Marketing_Guy - 4:36 pm on Nov 6, 2012 (gmt 0)
It can be tough to get a forum off the ground and some sites just don't lend themselves to it well. Is your site general news or from a specific industry? Are there other active forums in your market? Do you allow comments on your articles? How is it advertised on the rest of your site?
It's always useful to have a function to a forum other than just discussion. For example, small business forums might have a services wanted sub forum or a tech forum might have an expert help section.
I think in general though, forums seem to be losing their appeal - over the past few years people have generally moved away from being a part of a community and more towards blogging or tweeting where they can effectively create their own micro community. And on the flip side, forums can be resource intensive to maintain and difficult to monetise, so less websites are producing them.
It sounds like you're taking a good approach to it though - seeding the forum and ensuring the quality of it are the key areas to start with. Sometimes it just takes time to build up momentum.
Also, you have to consider your traffic sources. If we assume you're 80% search / 20% referrals (for argument's sake), that's still 100% people looking for news, and 0% looking for discussions. But over time that would shift as people link to good threads and so on and you get people visiting who are interested in discussions over news.