Posted in: Archive
Web Forums are traditionally extremely difficult to get off the ground, but are well worth the effort to create a sense of community around your site. Hopefully this post will give you a bit of a start.
1). Directing Traffic
It is alot easier to get a question forum going on a site if you have a source of traffic already. If not, you are going to have to work hard to create traffic organically. Find a couple of traditional website promotion tips over here.
2). Combatting the sheep effect
We are a fickle breed us web users. If a visitor lands on your site and it resembles a ghost town, no one is going to ask any questions. Creating new members (either organically by sending out email invites to your site, or faking it yourself) is one way to overcome this perception. Social networks can help here too if you have a good friend list who will agree to join and help you seed your forum.
3). Incentives to post
If you can provide incentives to post in the forum, you are half way there. At the early phase of growth you will have problems getting people to participate, so if you can offer a prize for the first member to reach say 100 quality posts (or alternatively quality answers if this suits your model) then the posting rate will go up. Remember that as a general website rule interaction happens with only 2% of your audience.
4). Faking interactions
Generating debate between fictious members can be a way of teasing lurkers out of the woodwork, specially if its a heated, spark flying argument. Be careful not to have ongoing flame wars between people as it may set a tone that will be hard to irradicate in your forum.
Reward members on their first interaction by introducing yourself, and thanking them for joining etc etc. You might want to start an introductions thread to get people talking.
6). Content Content Content
Start postings lots of content to the site yourself, and start answering questions that you have posted yourself, obviously withan alternative username.
7). Questions Questions Questions
Make sure that any posts that you do create have a final question in them, to encourage other viewers of the thread to post.
8). Less topics
If you can start quite small, with less topics and less sub forums your traffic will be more concentrated in one place, which should, at the onset help in getting visitors to post.
Overall remember that your main problem with a forum, is good content, which will get picked up from the search engines and tempt people in. Remember to set a tone, and be quick to let new members know what will be deemed acceptible with regards to moderation of posts, if you are more relaxed, don’t be surprised to find plenty of slagging matches between members. If however you have too strict a moderation policy it can put people off.