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How to take an established forum to the next level?

     

ssri06

6:53 am on Nov 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



hello,
I am new to forums.. not exactly but still learning each day. Initially it was the issue of getting members etcetc.. Now the forum is established with over 15000 members and 100,000 posts. now my question is how do I take the forum to its next level? I don't have the funds. Majority of members are inactive. Revenue is just barely enuf to maintain its running costs. But it is popular:)
how do I remove this stagnancy?
thanks

thecoalman

5:43 pm on Nov 23, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



It's been my experience that most of the popular forums are the ones that have a healthy social area that give a reason for regulars to become regulars, off-topic, political, games etc. Something to keep people coming back where the main topic isn't something they need help with anymore.

Expanding features and adding other things that the regulars can participate in is also important. For example adding a mediawiki.

grey259

1:51 pm on Dec 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



That postcount does seem low, for the number of users you have. One of my forums has over 190,000 posts, but only 626 members. Daily activity shows visits from over 100 of those members.

Prune your membership of the users with 0 posts who've been inactive for more than a month or two. Then delete orphan threads older than 7 days. Combine your related but lightly used forums together. Add a great new style. Then email your membership advising them of some cool new changes.

One thing I did to stimulate discussion was to create a "News scavenger" forum which has new threads created based on news feeds from popular social sites. Once the thread receives a certain number of replies, it automatically gets moved to a general discussion forum.

ssri06

2:08 pm on Dec 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



do u think introducing contests will improve member posting?

rogerd

3:34 pm on Dec 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I don't think contests will help at all. It sounds like you have a lot of members but not much community, hence the low post-to-member ratio.

I'd focus on classic community building techniques: posting provocative topics, keeping the discussions flowing, welcoming new members, and ensuring that nobody is made to feel unwelcome. It's slow, but effective.

Heartlander

11:32 pm on Dec 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I agree with Roger.
I have done every type of contest imaginable over the last 5-6 years, and they simply do not work...by and large.
Gave away some very impressive big-ticket items in the process, but even then it does nothing to retain even those that won them.
Your site will rest on it's own merits.
If people enjoy the content enough, they will hang around, read and occasionally post.

ssri06

10:34 am on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



thanks guys.. that helped:)
any other suggestions to get members to come back. the forum has loads of content.. but people read and go.

thecoalman

8:11 pm on Dec 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Prune your membership of the users with 0 posts who've been inactive for more than a month or two

I think that is a little drastic, I've many members that only come around occasionally with a 0 post count. My guess is they sign up for the forum features such as auto reply. I've been pruning about once a year, inactive for 2 years with a 0 post count.

scabadone

5:03 pm on Dec 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I agree that pruning membership hurts. A lot of people are just reading/lurking.

The suggestion about making offtopic and other fun areas has always worked for me.

Insomniak

1:35 pm on Dec 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member




You mention revenue is barely breaking even - if this is a concern you could also look at better ways of monetizing the traffic you already have.

rogerd

12:02 am on Dec 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Before focusing on monetization, work on building the community, the number of posting members, etc. When you have a wildly successful forum, monetization is easier.

If you have a lot of readers but not many posters, check out this thread: Pulling Forum Lurkers out of Hiding [webmasterworld.com].

Insomniak

5:46 am on Dec 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member



I agree but the wrong monetization model could also hurt the community - if it looks too spammy for example.
 

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