Getting Users to a New Forum?

ForumsRUs

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 10, 2022
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5
I wanted to start a new forum. There isn't a lot of forum presence for the topic out there, but there are some Reddit and Facebook groups.

Though, Reddit and Facebook have their issues with how content is distributed, hence the reason I still see the value for forums.

The hardest part I imagine will be acquiring new users. I've searched around here and haven't found much on the topic of how people are acquiring new users to forums, especially recently.

Starting with fake profiles is fine, but the popularity puppet show still requires real humans to come to the site and engage.

None of my friends/family would be interested. SEO isn't going to work for a new forum. I don't have an existing blog to funnel traffic to a forum, and would prefer to just have a standalone forum for the time being.

What are some strategies people are currently using to acquire new members to forums in 2022?

Mostly, I have just come up with manual outreach as a viable strategy, but it would seem hard to build up an entire community just by manually private messaging people on topic-relevant platforms elsewhere and informing them about my forum.
 

Nev_Dull

Anachronism
Joined
Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,439
Reaching out to people can help a bit, though you have to be careful about not annoying them. The only real answer is the same as it's always been:
  • Time. Building a forum audience is a long game. Expect to wait months, even years to reach the kind of activity levels your forum needs to become self sustaining.
  • Content. Continue to build the body of content your audience will want. Use fake accounts to create "discussions" or just focus on writing longer, informative pieces that encourage discussion. The more content you have, the more likely someone coming across your forum will be enticed to engage with something.
  • Passion. Make sure you've chosen a topic you love, because you are going to be the only participant for quite some time. If you're going to get bored with working on the forum or tired ot the topic, don't even start. The forums that succeed today tend to be soapbox niches, with the admin as the biggest evangelist.
 

sbjsbj

Fan
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Feb 9, 2015
Messages
779
80-99% of users come from Google search.

You need content. Which then are listed in Google. Which then can be clicked by people who are searching for some keywords.
 

Zero Numbers

Adherent
Joined
Sep 20, 2013
Messages
348
There's a lot of this "fake" stuff going on all around the internet. Every platform has been infiltrated by a mole.

And people aren't talking to each other like they used to in the older days of internet forums/message boards. We're at a point in time where people need to know or learn about stuff that gives them empowerment.
 

DigNap15

Fan
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Sep 14, 2019
Messages
726
80-99% of users come from Google search.

You need content. Which then are listed in Google. Which then can be clicked by people who are searching for some keywords.
Ha Ha
Many of my new members come from DuckDuckGo.
I awlays ask new members how they found my forum
About 1 in 15 reply.
Half of those say a friend recommended them, the other have were searching for a topic.
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
Joined
Sep 9, 2013
Messages
2,694
I get my members from Tumblr but #notlikeotherforums

Basically the trick to it is 1) get your site in front of people who might care and 2) have something for them to care about when they get there.

Writing content/articles etc is good for the latter but you still have to tell people about them, we’re back to that “if you build it they will come” not being true.

If you have content for the people on Reddit or Facebook… share it with them. Gotta put the name out there, the more ways you do that, the better, surely?
 

Bengie

Participant
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Jan 9, 2016
Messages
67
It depends what is on page 1 of a search engine. If the site has been going long enough to have been found, then put the
title into any search engine and of course it will come at the top. It's the subjects in the forum that people search for not
the name.

I can't search for your forum as I don't know the name but if you had a thread on Strawberry Jelly and I searched for that,
then up would pop that subject and your forum would be included in the results.
So that means the old old advice of 'subject matter' is still very much to the forefront.

But that is the hardest part of all, knowing what people search for.

I made 10 false accounts when I started mine but the problem with that is you start to run out of things to say to yourself,
it is hard having a conversation with yourself for any length of time.
 
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ForumsRUs

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 10, 2022
Messages
5
It seems most are saying search engines. That's not a viable strategy in the beginning. Google sandboxes sites for months now and SEO on a new forum isn't really going to happen unless the competition is virtually zero. Forums don't rank very well anyway.

Long term SEO should be the goal, but in order to build to the point of critical mass, there has to be other ways to acquire members. Surely, people here aren't just talking to themselves for 2 years, hoping some of that content becomes indexed and ranks as the primary strategy to onboard new users.
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
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No, they’re not, as outlined they’re producing other content alongside the forum. Articles and so on to round out the content.

End of the day you still have to have *something* for new users - you can’t just build an empty site and hope people will come and fill it even if you did manage to get it in front of them.
 

ForumsRUs

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 10, 2022
Messages
5
No, they’re not, as outlined they’re producing other content alongside the forum. Articles and so on to round out the content.

End of the day you still have to have *something* for new users - you can’t just build an empty site and hope people will come and fill it even if you did manage to get it in front of them.

A blog?
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
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A blog is certainly one format. A knowledge base of articles that aren’t chronological in nature is another. The key is to have material that an audience might care about and potentially even discuss.
 

Blanco

Participant
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Apr 8, 2019
Messages
76
Here is a clean way of looking at this:

What Question are your answering and is it popular/relevant?

or

Are you answering the best question relevant to your primary topic?
 

Blanco

Participant
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Apr 8, 2019
Messages
76
If you are going to market yourself, use the WHY method.

Are you answering the RIGHT question & WHY?
 

Blanco

Participant
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76
If you are answering the right question (popular question the best way in your genre), then you will create the right content.
 

Blanco

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A blog is certainly one format. A knowledge base of articles that aren’t chronological in nature is another. The key is to have material that an audience might care about and potentially even discuss.

Wit existing content you can see what is popular.

Starting out, some suggested using the keyword research tools, even typing question into google and seeing the top suggested answer is also a simple guide.

The way the net has moved now though traffic is attached to a personalities (social media effect), it was brought back into the same as mass media. The anon culture is the anti-thesis to mainstream media culture, eyeball control and profit system, i.e. look at the celebrities turnover- if you stop looking after a few years, you think to yourself "who re these people" why do I see their faces, it's kinda nice at times to not keno who is who anymore;)

When you have existing content it's amazing to see what stuff still attracts users and it's often a commonly raised quesiotn/cocner around a subject matter.

Thus my previous posts, identify the question you are trying to help people get the best answer on - is this not what Google does?

So do the same by having the best answer or frame to find those answer after the search event.

I guess that's the whole try be the best authority within your chosen field parameters.
 

ForumsRUs

Neophyte
Joined
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Messages
5
A blog is certainly one format. A knowledge base of articles that aren’t chronological in nature is another. The key is to have material that an audience might care about and potentially even discuss.
For what reason can that content not be forum posts?

You seem to be saying the content should exist separate/alongside the forum. Why not have sticky threads for good content -- is this solely for organization, because it will mess up the forum if you start producing a lot of content?

Also, why not use the forum posts to share as the 'content'? Is it because you cannot control the quality of the thread?

The problem I have with using articles/blogs to showcase a forum is then you're running more of a blog than a forum. In which case you might as well just run a blog. A lot of bloggers that roll out forums tend to close them down eventually and just keep the blog.

I understand the model, but it would be nice to funnel directly to the forum on its own merits, rather than using informational articles to hope to then direct them to a forum for additional Q & A on the subject.

Blogs are pretty saturated too.

I was hoping people had strategies for stand-alone forums.
 

Blanco

Participant
Joined
Apr 8, 2019
Messages
76
I wanted to start a new forum. There isn't a lot of forum presence for the topic out there, but there are some Reddit and Facebook groups.

Though, Reddit and Facebook have their issues with how content is distributed, hence the reason I still see the value for forums.

What are some strategies people are currently using to acquire new members to forums in 2022?

Mostly, I have just come up with manual outreach as a viable strategy, but it would seem hard to build up an entire community just by manually private messaging people on topic-relevant platforms elsewhere and informing them about my forum.
Thats actually a great start. Possibly the best start.

So leverage what the others are not doing so well, solve their issues with your platform or approach and get a handful of dedicated, interested decent posters and you cold not ask for a better start IMHO - it just may be harder these days to get those few seed users.

habits and behaviours and the level of online distraction has never been higher, and so long form content is not as common as it once was, or lie the post you get here. TAZ is a good example of a forum that still has a place in the world of social media swamp and saturation.
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
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Messages
2,694
For what reason can that content not be forum posts?

You seem to be saying the content should exist separate/alongside the forum. Why not have sticky threads for good content -- is this solely for organization, because it will mess up the forum if you start producing a lot of content?

Also, why not use the forum posts to share as the 'content'? Is it because you cannot control the quality of the thread?

The problem I have with using articles/blogs to showcase a forum is then you're running more of a blog than a forum. In which case you might as well just run a blog. A lot of bloggers that roll out forums tend to close them down eventually and just keep the blog.

I understand the model, but it would be nice to funnel directly to the forum on its own merits, rather than using informational articles to hope to then direct them to a forum for additional Q & A on the subject.

Blogs are pretty saturated too.

I was hoping people had strategies for stand-alone forums.
Because Google penalises the heck out of user generated content by default on the presumption it has limited authoritativeness.

In any case, blogs in particular also bring the situation of chronology to the mix, when well-written articles can often be evergreen and by nature timeless.

The forum can have its own merits but that doesn’t change the fact that you seem to be hoping for a model that doesn’t exist: a forum that has no reason to have content that somehow has content. As Blanco points out you’re ultimately trying to fill a need, and to do that you have to have something to fill it with.

No one is going to go to a forum that has no content; the age of “build it and they will come” is not real, if it ever was in the first place. And yes you can seed the standalone forum for/with seed users but eventually that initial content gets lost, buried over time - hence the need for content that sits outside the forum proper to keep being a source of inflow.
 

ForumsRUs

Neophyte
Joined
Jun 10, 2022
Messages
5
Because Google penalises the heck out of user generated content by default on the presumption it has limited authoritativeness.

Except Google doesn't penalize the heck out of user generated content by default. Google ranks sites based on the global authority of the domain as well as at the page level. The reason most forums do not rank well is because they're not very well optimized for SEO, not authoritative on the domain or page level, etc. Reddit forum posts, for example, rank well as do the myriad of stack programming forum websites.

The forum can have its own merits but that doesn’t change the fact that you seem to be hoping for a model that doesn’t exist: a forum that has no reason to have content that somehow has content. As Blanco points out you’re ultimately trying to fill a need, and to do that you have to have something to fill it with.

No one is going to go to a forum that has no content; the age of “build it and they will come” is not real, if it ever was in the first place. And yes you can seed the standalone forum for/with seed users but eventually that initial content gets lost, buried over time - hence the need for content that sits outside the forum proper to keep being a source of inflow.

I don't know why you seem to be defining "content" as an article. Forum posts are content too. I never once said that a stand-alone forum = no content of any kind. I thought it was implied in the point of playing the talking game with yourself that you would be generating content.

And forum post/thread content only gets "lost" to users if they are looking for the content on-site. The forum admins here have stated they are relying on search results to bring traffic; in that case, Google will directly take the user to the content, so it doesn't matter if its on page 1 of your forum or page 100, it will still be indexed/ranked. Pagination occurs with blogs too.

I think what you really are getting at is the value of a blog. Indeed it does rank better than forum posts because its a lot simpler, static content, better structured for SEO.

No one is going to go to a forum that has no content

Having a blog doesn't fix this issue. How will having a blog or a series of articles help a forum have content; the forum itself still won't have user-generated content, just some articles/blog adjacent to the forum itself.

I can see the value of the blog driving eyes to the site. But if the forum lacks user-generated content/engagement, people will read your blog/articles and disregard your forum.

User intent is of importance too. A user reading a blog/article might have no interest in Q and A of a forum; just like if I read a news article, I often have no intention for back and forth discussion about it on a forum.
 
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