I'd be careful. You might start attracting folks just looking to make a quick buck who don't care about your forum. Maybe consider putting a slight twist on it and raffle off prizes/gift certificates every week to a few random users.
I've found that if you offer tools for folks to create/customize a blog, and you have ways for them to interact and be social, they tend to stick around and become more passionate about a site/topic.
We've avoided the cash thing for years and have been doing just fine... but I can understand your desire for an instant "boost" to your forum... but I'd just be careful to not set an expectation that you may take away some day... If you do go ahead with it... just be very clear that it is a promotional thing that will only last for x months... etc. Also, along with requiring posts of a certain length, also require quality (ie - posts will be reviewed and approved) so folks know up front they can't just type away and make money.
Hope this helps!
thanks for the reply. I guess I did not state this correctly, this company will post to our forum using their employees (or most likely students) as a way to make our forum seem more active as we continue to grow.
These are not "real" people that I would like to have as members, rather they will be "padding" our forums to make them look more robust.
I can sticky you their url if you would like.
Yuk, is the only thing I can think of about that idea.
Why prostitute your site like that?
Building a community takes real work, just buying posters is not real growth, its like paying people to be your friends.
yeah... this is my feeling as well. I have a partner that has suggested it and I had to put it up for consideration...
In almost every section of the internet you'll find an established leader for any given topic. That leading site (or sites) very likely didn't use artificial means of creating content. My best advice is to keep it real, its not the short term answer you're looking for I know but its the best way to ensure success. Focus on SEO or copyright skills or marketing instead.
SE's give weight to more established sites anyway and have seen what you are considering doing many times. Don't do it!
Study your competition. Learn your trade and do it better without shortcuts. There is no other way in the long run. If you hire someone else your site will only be as good as their skill/effort and quite honestly they likely don't care as much as you do.
This isn't meant to dash your enthusiasm friend, good luck with whichever approach you take!
Kurgano, thank you for that. I never liked the concept, but since I am not the sole owner, I have to listen to my partners' ideas, lame or not.
Since the responses so far have supported my thoughts about this, it makes it easier to go to them and say "See, I told you this idea sucked" or something perhaps more civil.... or less.
I'm happy to learn this type of community building takes place. I can understand the temptation of wanting to do it. Especially if your run the type of site like travel where visitors are less likely to return after researching their trip.
I run a popular travel-related site that added a forum 5 years after being online. I'm pleased with the quality of discussion, but the amount of members posting is light.
Honestly, I wouldn't mind a few "Good point" and "I agree" type posts. If my visitors could see that this type of posting is ok, I think it would help encourage others to participate.
Building a community is not easy and takes time and effort. Instead of buying posters may I suggest to you and your partner another idea..
Buy unique content instead and link that to the forum with "discuss"
I saw an example of a forum that was being built using paid posters - the posts were all written in "English as a foreign language" and it was so obviously contrived it was funny.
"Yes I think you make good point" . . . "Thank you for saying this. I am happy to help you my friend" . . . and so on and so on.
I'm sure there are half decent companies who can supply posters, but if you do go down this route ask to see samples of forums that they have helped take off.
Payment for posting in forums is not that bad. I know an online board that distributes dollars earned from AdSense among the members, since the whole content is developed by the members only. Not a bad idea.
To go against the grain travelin cat, I think these ideas can and do work. No one will join and post in a forum that has tumble weed going past, these type of services make the fourm look active, it makes it easier for people to join in the conversation's, again its still a lot of hard work to get visitors and real sign ups to stay and take part in your forum.
I have used these services to get a travel forum off the ground before and they work. People think it is an active forum and start joining and posting thats the main thing, its then your job to get more traffic and keep the sign ups active.
You might need to do everything you can to reach critical mass in your forum. That might mean doing an expensive trageted ppc campaign to get the first vissitors and get the traffic to reach critical mass where your forum readers will start posting to each other.
Seeding forums with posts is a valid way to get things rolling. BUT - you need to understand up front that you may pay for 100 posts and they will be made by perhaps only 3 users.
Seeding does help your search engine relevance. It is not a dishonest practice as long as your end goal is to have an active community of subject oriented posters.
To me it is like fishing a stocked pond for practice before you go fishing in the wild if you do not know how to fish.
There is nothing inherently "evil" or fraudulent about it. You are just trying to succeed.
That's my 2 cents worth.
...RSS, social bookmarking, evergreen copy, 'top-tens', subscriptions, link baiting, adding topics and discussion on other specialist sites with track backs, continual contribution, hard work...
I'd avoid quick and dirty. Go quality and wholesome.
1 decent contibuting member is worth 100 of these charlatans.
I would suggest that you keep on making dummy posts for the time being and make attempts to rope in members. By the time you have a good community around you would see that you wont need to make those dummy posts anymore.