|Steps in creating a successful Forum|
I started a forum ~ 5 months ago using vBulletin.
I wanted to create an online forum for a specific country in the middle east where users would post online and discuss topics such as Politics, Business, Women and more...
I have dedicated a valuable/expensive domain for this forum, meaning it is not a subfolder or part of a website. So basically users would immediately access the forum's front page by simply typing in the domain.
I have disabled the permission setting to upload videos/images in order to increase the download speed and to keep threads clean/neat and also avoid users from using up all my server space for non-sense material.
(This is also one of the things I love about WebmasterWorld! = it doesnít allow users to add signatures, upload pictures and add crazy colors/fonts)
I havenít put up any ads yet so users can focus on the forum. The template is pretty simple as well to avoid distraction.
Now what am I doing wrong?
What steps do I need to take to create an active and successful forum cause no ones posting yet and its getting a bit frustrating! For how long do I need to talk to myself on my own forum?
Start talking to yourself a lot using different accounts. Get your friends to do likewise. An empty forum does not inspire new users to post.
bill, I have been doing that for the past few months. Do I try to get search engine traffic or do you recommend sending traffic from other sites?
How long do I talk to myself? and also if I do send a few thousand visitors/day from other sites should I put up google ads so my traffic doesnt go to complete waste?
people have said to wait 1-2 years before things pick up, but how do I know if my forum is on the right track during this 1-2 year period?
friends need incentives to post...I realized I spent too much energy trying to persuade people to post, I rather use that energy to create new accounts and post myself.
the forum gets 1-20 visitors/day from Google and thats pretty much it.
Have you tried starting a fight? (visualizes Fight Club . . . lol . . . )
Seriously, controversial issues tend to draw the rubberneck crowd who can't resist getting their finger in the pie. This approach doesn't come without a cost though, beware.
Start something that will raise some hairs.
There's the controversial forum, the community forum, the reporting forum, the passionate forum... many styles possible. But they all take some time to get started and even then, unless the topic(s) have long legs will run out of interested parties over time. All forums, however, need at least on topic to vent/blow steam and that "open topic" forum sometimes helps generate new members.
As for cross posting against yourself from different accounts, that often comes across phony... folks tend to speak the same way even against their own topics and the result is often obvious.
If you find one or two equally dedicated folks and then have extended/multiple topics the search engines will have something to chew on. But beware you don't have duplicate content showing because of url issues (web/print versions of same content, etc).
The old rule was at least 1-2 years to get established, but with so much attention being diverted to FadBook and other such sites, the number of eyeballs looking at forums is generally decreasing in some parts of the world. It could well be still growing in your area of the world, but I sort of doubt it. I am guessing it will take at least as long as the old-school estimates these days and you'll need a number of people there 18+ hours per day to nurture it - and more importantly to remove any and all spam within a few minutes of it being posted.
There are some great classic threads in the Community Building Library [webmasterworld.com]. One oldie but goodie is this one:
Starting a Web Community [webmasterworld.com]
One issues is that there is so many general forums, and you're tying to establish a new forum in this environment without a main topic which has much more potential to establish a base of users.
I started a general type forum about 5 years ago and it languished for about a year. One sub forum out of the many was getting a lot of interest though. I was hoping that would carry over to the others but it never did. I dropped all the baggage and concentrated on the one that was successful and expanded it into others. Now I'm slowly migrating back to a more general type forum overall that I had originally envisioned and it's working out quite nicely but I already have an established user base.
|One issues is that there is so many general forums, and you're tying to establish a new forum in this environment without a main topic which has much more potential to establish a base of users. |
I agree. However, the only difference is my forum is supposed to be TEXT only, something like WW. All other forums either have too many images on most posts or videos embedded and considering that the internet connection is slow in the middle east I thought they would appreciate less download time especially in those cities where dial up is still more common.
Yeah its really tough starting a new forum today unless you have a super tight niche. I know you said you have disabled image uploads. I always recommend to folks like yourself starting geographical sites to get your camera out and become a reporter. Take photos of buildings, people, historic sites. Interview the locals, in short, become a reporter.
One thing I strongly recommend against is hiring forum posters. I did this once and things we're going quite well , then I reached my contract limit, the posters vanished and my few normal members said "Huh" What happened?
|I started a general type forum about 5 years ago and it languished for about a year. One sub forum out of the many was getting a lot of interest though. I was hoping that would carry over to the others but it never did. I dropped all the baggage and concentrated on the one that was successful and expanded it into others. Now I'm slowly migrating back to a more general type forum overall that I had originally envisioned and it's working out quite nicely but I already have an established user base. |
how many forum topics/categories do you have in your forums?
1) do not have too many forums for every category that you think ppl will like.
much better to have a few catch-all forums that include EVERYTHING...and break off subject topics if it gets busy enough. ie: don't give users the choice of many different forums to start.
ie: 1 forum with 5000 posts > 50 forums with 100 posts.
I see that all the time. beautiful, organized, and like 10000000 forum topics with a few threads and posts in each. (usually by the admin)
2) seed one forum with related RSS feeds to bulk up numbers (no, you won't get much outta that other than lookign like you have a lot of posts in that forum).
but early... looks are important. And by looks I mean number of posts/threads.
no one wants to be the first to a party.
3) unless you have exclusive article content... enable images/embedding (just not auto start) or make default small thumbs.
Find a couple of funny ones and start a couple threads with it. I don't care how niche you are in MOST cases the general and funny "foo" topics and threads still end up the most popular.
|However, the only difference is my forum is supposed to be TEXT only, |
What forum system you using?
Most have built-in option to view lite/text version vs. full version. Set yours to text be default if that's what you want. but give users the choice.
Benchmarking WebmasterWorld is a bad idea for starting out. Its a unique case. Text focused and only allowing text are two very different things.
4) write a few unique content articles and make your fake discussions with yourself, your ids, and friends about them.
see how that goes for a while.