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Author Topic: Drawing new members to your forum.  (Read 3856 times)

Offline Raion@BV

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Drawing new members to your forum.
« on: January 03, 2017, 09:21:15 PM »
Hello, SMF Crew and fans!

I've been wondering:  how does one create new vectors to introduce users to your forum? 

I thought of searching, but the nature of the Internet changes so violently each year that one can never really be certain that the things that worked last year would work this year, and so on.

I mean, a decade and a half ago, who would have thought that Social Media sites would have come along and basically overturning the classic forum landscape?

I can think of readily obvious methods, such as advertising and whatnot, but I was wondering if the Top Minds of SMF Community have any other ideas I might be missing.  Two heads are better than one, as they say, after all, and many heads ought to be better.

Help a brother out, guys.  If my forum becomes even huger and more successful thanks to you, I'll record a video of myself doing a little dance and put on the Youtubes, promise.

I'll also donate 70% of the proceedings to the SMF team.  ;D

Offline Colin

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2017, 10:18:26 PM »
I think it depends on the content of your forum. What type of forum are you running?
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Offline Raion@BV

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2017, 10:27:06 PM »
I think it depends on the content of your forum. What type of forum are you running?

Eh, nothing too weird or specific.  It's a culture forum, and God knows we've got tons of SMF culture forums - Greek Culture, Spanish-Speaking culture, etc.

It's not like we're a forum about the sprockets you get in the boxes for headphones that keep the headphones together, so I'm sure you guys can cook something up for me.

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.

Offline bendigital

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2017, 07:30:43 PM »
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 :)
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Offline HDB

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2017, 08:34:24 PM »
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...

Quote
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.

But how would anyone know that when you block the forum from guests? You might create new vectors to get potential new members to your forum but when it leads to a dead end you will likely lose many potential members. I won't bother registering on any forum unless I can lurk in the shadows a bit.

Offline Raion@BV

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2017, 07:32:22 PM »
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...

Quote
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.   ;D O:)

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.


Offline TrackMustangsOnline

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2017, 04:04:01 PM »
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

Hope my 2 cents help :)
Great post and that's more than 2 cents worth. Social media is a forum killer.


Good question!  Our hopes were that you and other members would actually sign up and contribute to the forum, instead of merely lurking.
I don't think hoping is going to draw in new members.   ;)  You need interesting and unique content to draw in members and if they can't see that interesting and unique content you don't give them a reason to join.  There is nothing wrong with lurkers either.  The more the better IMO.

Offline HDB

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2017, 09:48:58 PM »
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.   ;D O:)

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.
Lurking isn't bad. Think of it like "window shopping". If I like what I see in window from the street I will come into the store. If your windows are covered over and I can't see what you have to offer then I will keep going and not give you another thought.

Besides potential members you are also keeping spiders out and your forum will not be indexed by search engines when you don't allow entrance.

Offline landyvlad

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2017, 01:28:15 AM »
Social media is a forum killer.

Yes, and No.

I am a member of two forums (run one of them) re a specific motorcycle.
There are a number of facebook groups also dedicated  to that same motorcycle (again I run one of them...)

Facebook pros (cons for Forums)

- instant notification to other users / instant feedback gratification for posters.
- ease of posting, especially ability to take and post photos almost in real time.
- kids today  ::)


Forum Pros (cons for FB)

- long term repository of information / readily searchable.  (as opposed to facebook where content rapidly disappears down the page and is difficult or impossible to find again after time has elapsed - sometimes even a few days.)
- more accepted by those people who grew up pre-faceache
- many people don't or won't have facebook accounts for all the other stuff that goes on there...


Naturally whether FB is a big threat to a particular forum largely depends on:
- the nature of the content  (if FB can do it better, that's a problem for you)
- the target audience (if your target audience is primarily young, that's a problem for you) 

Facebook isn't ALL evil though.  I can be a means of attracting forum users, from related interest groups.
Many people use both. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.


The above is based on my experience. Your Mileage May Vary.
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Offline TrackMustangsOnline

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2017, 02:00:12 PM »
Social media is a forum killer.

Yes, and No.

I am a member of two forums (run one of them) re a specific motorcycle.
There are a number of facebook groups also dedicated  to that same motorcycle (again I run one of them...)

Facebook pros (cons for Forums)

- instant notification to other users / instant feedback gratification for posters.
- ease of posting, especially ability to take and post photos almost in real time.
- kids today  ::)


Forum Pros (cons for FB)

- long term repository of information / readily searchable.  (as opposed to facebook where content rapidly disappears down the page and is difficult or impossible to find again after time has elapsed - sometimes even a few days.)
- more accepted by those people who grew up pre-faceache
- many people don't or won't have facebook accounts for all the other stuff that goes on there...


Naturally whether FB is a big threat to a particular forum largely depends on:
- the nature of the content  (if FB can do it better, that's a problem for you)
- the target audience (if your target audience is primarily young, that's a problem for you) 

Facebook isn't ALL evil though.  I can be a means of attracting forum users, from related interest groups.
Many people use both. They are not necessarily mutually exclusive.


The above is based on my experience. Your Mileage May Vary.
Yep all good info there.  So the question I have on this is what's the best way to use/integrate FB and Instagram with my forum?  The idea is to draw traffic to my forum and not the other way around.  I see my members posting on other FB pages so they might as well be posting on my forum specific FB page.  I'll start a separate thread on this but if anyone has any good links to discussion on this please post a link.

Offline landyvlad

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Re: Drawing new members to your forum.
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2017, 08:28:26 PM »
Dunno about Instagram.. I think anyone over 30 is disqualified from being on there....  :laugh: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

As background - I created my (new) forum when an old forum run by someone else disappeared evidently permanently leaving ONLY FB as a place for people to retreat to.

As I mentioned I am an admin on a FB group related to the same subject as my forum.

It is NOT however specifically a facebook version of the forum.  In the context of this question we are looking to improve FORUM participation, and improve a FB page at the expense of the forum.

I am fortunate in that the FB I mention (which is an Aussie only forum) as well as the international FB page which was set up as an 'alternative gathering point' for (the old) forum both allow me to post to inform people of the existence of the forum.  Naturally it's important not to abuse this privilege by talking down FB, but I do mention what the forum specifically offers (leaving unsaid, but it's clear to people, that FB doesn't do those things).

There are, and will always be, people who like to use FB and will never use a forum.  You can't change people.

In my view the key is not to see FB as a 'competitor' for members but rather than both FB and forums have their own strengths ansd weaknesses.

The FB groups I mention were pre-existing to when I started my forum.  I would never advocate startuing a FB group specifically for 'forum members' - that is entirely counter-productive.

Sorry for waffling on - I hope some of the above makes sense.
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