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How to market a Forum?

Get people to come and post?

     
2:58 am on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi,

This is my first post here. Have been reading for a couple of days. I must thank this forum. It is amazingly helpful. Hopefully I won't break any rules unknowingly.

That said, here is my problem.

I am planning a website that will have a forum like this on it(different subject area). I want to know if anyone has any tips on how I get people there and to start posting. I have tried to find this mysterious answer but to no avail.

Appreciate any input.

Thanx
WildViper

3:03 am on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Here's a couple:
1) Create 3 or 4 identities and start having a converstion with yourself
2) Start a link directory and start trading links with other sites in a big way. It's usually pretty easy to get links for forums.
3) If you already have a mailing list in the same industry, see if you can include some links to forum topics in the next newsletter.
4) Find some articles that others have written and ask permission to use them on your forum (and give credit of course).
3:06 am on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I have a better way. Use software that is compatible with USENET, and start a feed through USENET to your forum. You will have topics and people texting eahother immediately. It will make your site look busy when it really isn't at the present time.

Hope that helps.

CompWorld

3:27 am on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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You need a couple of seeders, those that can start threads of interest and tend them to keep the good ones alive. IMO, it'd be better if it wasn't you. I'd be careful of alter-egos, if you're exposed you stand the chance of alienating any community you had managed to pull together.
3:43 am on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If your forum handles polls, try pulling people in with some general polls to get their interest up.

Then change the polls about every week or so.

4:01 am on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi, Wildviper, welcome to WebmasterWorld. Promoting a forum is just part of promoting the overall site, and many of the same advice applies: create content, get good links, make sure the forum and other content are designed for spidering and indexing, etc.

For new forums, lots of TLC will help. Make visitors feel welcome, be sure posts get answered, etc. If your site has lots of other content, link to the forum prominently. Put links to some interesting topics on your home page.

Exchange links with sites with similar themes. For forums that aren't directly competitive and which allow signatures, make helpful posts... but DON'T promote, and don't violate either the letter or intent of their TOS. As a forum owner, I'm sure you'll empathize with the operators of the other forums. Nevertheless, you may find a way to reach potential visitors without alienating your hosts.

Good luck - starting a forum can be a rewarding experience if it takes off!

5:54 pm on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Thanx a lot to all. I appreciate the feedback.

How do I link the Forums to the Usenet? That would be awesome.

At this time I have no content, but I am planning on developing that. I was hoping to get the forum going so that when my real site is finally up, it will already have ready made traffic. Maybe, I am going about this the wrong way...perhaps get content and site up first and then have the forum up huh?

Thanx again.

Also, do Moderators get paid by Forum Owners?

WildViper

6:22 pm on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Also, do Moderators get paid by Forum Owners?

I'm a moderator at a free computer tech support site. I don't recieve any sort of pay or anything. I have found a couple of programming jobs through the forum though. I think people like being moderators enough to do it without being paid.
6:39 pm on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Also, do Moderators get paid by Forum Owners?

I'd be happy to discuss my six-figure compensation package, but I had to execute an iron-clad non-disclosure agreement... ;) Riiiight...

The truth: I'd guess 99% of web forum moderators receive no compensation (unless, perhaps, they are otherwise employed by the owner and have moderation as an incidental duty).

I think site owners often toss a few perks at dedicated mods. One forum I run has given mods t-shirts and will soon upgrade them to golf shirts. We've also thrown some free professional services (offered by the site) their way when they needed them.

Most mods, I'd say, are motivated by an interest in the topic and a desire to help others. Some forums may also provide professional networking opportunities and the occasional business deal for those mods who are interested, but I doubt if that is the prime motivation in most cases.

Treating your mods with respect, constantly recognizing their effort, and the occasional perk will go a long way to keeping them involved. IMO, most mods are paid a lot more in their real-life positions than a forum owner could hope to match. Depends on the field, of course. If potential mods perceive the site/forum as a big moneymaker, they may be less inclined to work for free. If they see the owner committed to the same goals they are, volunteering is more palatable.

9:10 pm on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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One other thing you can do, WV: even without assuming multiple identities, you can start new discussion topics with informative and/or provocative posts. If they are timely, you may get a double impact: plenty of follow-on discussion, as well as SE referrals if your forum is well-indexed and ranked.

It's a lot like starting a face-to-face conversation. If you stand there mouthing banalities, people will turn away. If you say something that is insightful, intelligent, and provocative, people will listen and respond. (At least if you hang out with the right kind of people... ;))

<added>Sometimes just being provocative is enough... periodically someone starts a topic here like, "Will SEO Be Dead Within 6 Months?" There are always a ton of outraged replies, arguments & counter-arguments, etc.</added>

9:51 pm on Dec 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Also, do Moderators get paid by Forum Owners?

I always had the mods pay me instead ;)

12:20 am on Jan 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I know phpbb offers a usenet mod. I think it is still in BETA. The only thing about usenet is you can't moderate it.
1:29 am on Jan 1, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Of course you can moderate on Usenet - there are/were numerous newsgroups with "moderated" in their names. When I mean Usenet, I mean the Big 8 or 9 hierarchies. To moderate, you need a decent news program that lets you add the special headers.

I visit a professional forum that appears to be maintained by a paid person and month after month she starts 4-5 new threads and is good at attracting follow-up discussions. This forum is SE-crawlable, so the discussions end up in the SEs and attract new members - which is how I discovered the forum.

2:57 pm on Jan 2, 2004 (gmt 0)

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"Celebrity" posters are another attraction... If you have some well-known names in your topic, WV, invite them to post in your forum. I've made a habit of doing that, and one time in five or ten it actually works. This is great for word-of-mouth advertising... "Hey, did you hear what ____ said at WildViper's site?" Other visitors will want to interact, and you may draw some lurkers into posting.
9:31 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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add the url to your forum to all your signature files. like on other boards that you post at, your email sig file, etc.
get the word out and like the other's said, post some interesting subjects yourself and get friends etc. to post also.

luck,
robert

9:45 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Compworld,
Use software that is compatible with USENET, and start a feed through USENET to your forum. You will have topics and people texting eahother immediately. It will make your site look busy when it really isn't at the present time.

Sounds interesting is there any examples we can look at and ware's we can trial out?

Thx

10:42 pm on Jan 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Thanx all again. Keep the advice coming. I am trying to do a little bit of everything. Wish I can do the celebrity thing.

It is kind of difficult when you have 0 posts from anyone and have 2 members! :( Hopefully one day, I won't have this problem.

I am trying to get the USENET thing working, but no luck yet. Once I get it going, it would be cool.

6:32 pm on Jan 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

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wildviper,

You could ask friends to post in your forum - either reponding to threads you've started or starting new threads themselves.

Beth

12:39 am on Jan 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I've been told USENET is dead and is all spam post anyways, so its going to do more harm than good as G pinalizes spam in a big way.
6:17 am on Jan 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

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To the original poster.

Forums and community are very nice terms. but does your site REALLY need it? Do you really know what you are getting into?

I am moderating high profile forums for almost 10 years.... sometimes i regret that I entered this filed <grin>....

I would recommend that you get couple of books, read it, and propound your decision after reading them.

these books are excellent for both the novice and experience community builder, and can be found at amazon:

1. Design for Community: The Art of Connecting Real People in Virtual Places

by Derek M. Powazek

Paperback: 336 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.85 x 8.98 x 7.10
Publisher: New Riders; 1st edition (August 9, 2001)
ISBN: 0735710759

2. Community Building on the Web : Secret Strategies for Successful Online Communities

by Amy Jo Kim

Paperback: 380 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.75 x 9.25 x 7.25
Publisher: Peachpit Press; 1 edition (April 6, 2000)
ASIN: 0201874849

enjoy

2:55 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I wouldn't bother with the Usenet thing. My experience in Usenet discussions is that the discussions are dominated by just a few people with too much spare time and too less tolerance. Mainly in computer or web design related topics the discussions tend to get very harsh.

I'd go with the alter ego advice. This is the way I started my forums four years ago.

5:17 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Well, for the past few days I have spent researching the Usenet while trying to figure out how to integrate it in my Forums.

My Findings: As Fischer said, these groups are frequented by few people who are, I might add, very very knowledgeable about the relevant issues. However, they also do lack the patience. I would love to get these guys to post on my website, however, I doubt that will happen.

I do not think that I will be able to successfully incorporate the Usenet. :(

As for the books, I am definately going to B&N this weekend to see if I can pick them up. They sound good.

I am going to recruit few of my friends to go and post as someone here had mentioned. I am not sure about the alter ego. I like the idea, however, am not sure if I can pull it off especially when I am not an expert on the subject matter(that is why I am looking for moderators as well).

Again, I would like to thank everyone here for their contributions. If anyone else has any other ideas, please post...perhaps make this post a kind of "Guide to Marketing Forums" or something for others. :)

WildViper

6:11 pm on Jan 15, 2004 (gmt 0)

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1) Find good moderators
2) Offer prizes for the first one to make 50 QUALITY posts?
3) Feed your forum with good questions and topics that you know that will attract attention and replies