MWpro - 4:41 am on Jan 22, 2009 (gmt 0) Lay Down a Substantial Base of Posts Post Everyday Make sure each post has strong keywords, especially in the titles Change the default design, but don’t overdo it
Forums take long to start. I have been working on mine for almost a year and it has made TONS of progress, but it is still not a self-sustaining community yet--I still have to help answer questions and get topics rolling. Here are my tips:
Before you start promoting your forum, you need to make it appear to be busy and popular. People do not join a new forum or an inactive forum. So make 5-20 fake accounts (some people frown on this but if you only use it as an initial catalyst then it is ok… I don’t see how you could start a new forum without fake accounts these days). Get some quality posts going with these accounts, and try to fill up at least one whole page of each different category of your forum with posts (roughly 20 posts or so).
The main page of your forum will show when the last posts were made in each category. You never want this to say “Yesterday” or that no one has posted in over two days. You need to make posts in every category every day so it looks like you have a very busy forum. I can tell you first hand that seeing that no one has posted anything in two or three days is a huge turn off when I am considering joining a message board.
Many users when posting make a thread entitled “I have a question.” This title in no way helps you optimize for search engines. You must change the title the user submits to make it more relevant, anticipating keywords that people will search for. This method has helped me get a lot of traffic to my website. vBulletin lets you change the titles fairly easy.
If you try to run a forum with the default design it came with, you will probably fail, as it sends the clear message that this is a new forum. You don’t want that image—you want to look established and professional. So change the default design, you can probably download and adapt a skin that someone made fairly easy. But don’t do anything too crazy; remember to follow the usual accessibility principles that apply to regular websites.
Lay Down a Substantial Base of Posts
Make sure each post has strong keywords, especially in the titles
Change the default design, but don’t overdo it