In my theory, in today's I-better-login-to-socialmedia-than-forum mindset, the key to have a successful forum starts from the niche. General topic forum seems difficult to survive, since people prefer social media to talk about daily and general topics.
So here are my thoughts:
1. The forum has to be a niche forum
2. A considerable numbers of people or communities that have interest in this niche
3. Some people have problems that need to be solved about this niche
Now, let's analyze yours based on points above:
1. I assume you already has your niche (African-American culture)
2. Are there considerable people or communities interested in this topic? If yes, you can focus your marketing on this specific group of people
3. Are those people actively seeking solutions about this topic? If no, then nothing to be discussed on your forum
Now, let's analyze SMF forum (which I consider as a successful one) based on point above:
1. Yes, the niche is very specific (about SMF platform)
2. Yes, a lot of people around the world interested in building a forum (though it's decreasing)
3. Yes, a lot of people have questions around this matter, and actively seeking for solutions, which keeps the forum conversation engaging.
Hope my 2 cents help
Hey, thanks for stopping by, no problem. Glad you noticed me in the sea of SMF admins out there, struggling to survive around the behemoth of Social Media.
The situation as you describe it with general topic forums being overwhelmed by Social Media is especially jarring to me as someone who was online prior to the social media boom back in the 56kbps days; of course, there were large corporate-owned communities like Geocities and AOL and whatnot, but forums about broad, general topics seemed to be more common, back then. I may be observing the past through nostalgia-goggles, however.
Yes, there are people interested in this topic. You have prompted me to narrow the focus of the forum to an even smaller aperture by choosing a subtopic within this topic, or perhaps even a few of them - your thoughts?
As for whether solutions can be found for the topic in question, we certainly hope so, but I'm afraid that's rather a tall order, friend. At best perhaps we can help each other exchange information about the topic in the hopes of eventually finding solutions to our questions if such a task would be possible. I'm not terribly ambitious and don't expect our tiny forum to be a breakthrough problem solving source, but it would be nice if it were, yes, thank you.
I see that you have blocked guests from viewing your forum. My opinion is that you need to allow guests to see your forum otherwise they are not likely to join.
You said above...
Our forum is about African-American culture - a competitor to sites like MediaTakeOut or Bossip. Our shtick - the thing that makes us stand out is that our site is classy and doesn't solely deal in gossip, rap music, dating people offline, and sports.
Good question! Our hopes were that you and other members would actually sign up and contribute to the forum, instead of merely lurking.
I feel awkward saying this because it makes me sound like I'm trying to recruit people from here to prop our forum up by mentioning it, haha.
For what it's worth, it's been like that since our inception and we have still had new members register, although slowly. Perhaps removing it might speed up the process...but then they wouldn't wanna make accounts....hm.