How did you get your forum off the ground

evcom

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Apr 27, 2018
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Not sure if it is on by default on XF. I am using Invision Community. There it can be set to ON or OFF.
 

Study Force

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My forum is centered around Q/A. So back in 2010, I would answer questions on Yahoo Answers, and reference my website. Did that for a good 3 months until I was satisfied with the results...
 

DigNap15

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Its going to be even harder for us all now that Google seem to be down ranking forums.
If you search forums on my main topics I do not even get to page 10.
Yet I know I am one of the biggest.

So I think we have to find other ways that Google.
 

cdub24

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Nov 12, 2015
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Its going to be even harder for us all now that Google seem to be down ranking forums.
If you search forums on my main topics I do not even get to page 10.
Yet I know I am one of the biggest.

So I think we have to find other ways that Google.
I'm not sure that's true. If you search forums for my topic I'm the first result. I guess it depends on the topic.
 

evcom

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Apr 27, 2018
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Its going to be even harder for us all now that Google seem to be down ranking forums.
I cannot confirm this. It's a complex subject and my guess is, SEO plays an important role. If your forum cannot be found if you enter "your topic" and "forum", then there is perhaps something on your SEO side that should be improved?
 

Splinter2

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Always an interesting topic for sure. Most have been said by previous posters already and I agree with most of it. anhy123 I am in the same boat as I am working on a forum that hopefully will take-off one fine day. I've been administrating different forums since 2005. Many of them with a mixed success. What I've learned from it is, that if you want to be successful today, all factors that may lead to success, must be met. In the early days, this was not the case and even when things were less 'optimal', sites quickly gained traction.

My situation is pretty similar to yours, as there is already another forum which focuses on the same subject. I find it one of the biggest challenges on the way to grow your forum. Even though my forum is superior when it comes to tech. functionalities and design, people won't join from the other forum. I've learned also, that the folks from e.g. FB Groups won't join. So what can be done about it? I'm trying to make my community different from the competition (find your niche). E.g. different advertising and monetization strategy, different forum categories, different content, different profiles, etc..And of course all other factors must be observed as well. To name a few: Top Content, SEO, Newsletter, Design, Functionality & Usability, Atmosphere, and, and, and...Good luck! And don't give up too quickly.
I have the same problem because A Another forum, which has been around much longer than us, is based on the same idea, same subjects, same country etc.
We've managed to lure some people away, but many go back and the ones that do stay with us have been banned by the other forum anyway, so they've got nowhere else to go. That's kind of funny in itself, but not the best reason for them to join us, if I'm honest.
At both the welcome thread and the home page, I make it very clear that our forum isn't over-moderated, PMs are not read by staff and members will not be banned out of the blue, as happens at the other place. I always thought that would be enough to bring in new members, but no.
In the end, we try to create fresh content, keep the conversation lively and make people feel welcome without looking over their shoulders and wondering if their post will go to moderation.
I've also tried chat plugins, but no one used them; added more humorous smileys, a picture gallery and pages of local interest, but what we really need are more members.
It's an uphill struggle.
 

DigNap15

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My problem is that Google put me on page 7 or page 10.
Whereas Bing and DuckDuckGo put me on page 1 near the top (where I should be)
Google does not like forums, and my main topic - politics.

I am not going to spend hours on SEO playing their games.
 

DigNap15

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One of the problems forums face is that there are two definitions of the word forum.
A forum such as this (a mesage board, bulletin board or community)
And a forum such as a formal meeting orgasised for experts to attend eg on health or transport in a big hotel.
 

Taylor J

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One of the problems forums face is that there are two definitions of the word forum.
A forum such as this (a mesage board, bulletin board or community)
And a forum such as a formal meeting orgasised for experts to attend eg on health or transport in a big hotel.

As far as I know there is only one definition of the word forum.

a place, meeting, or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged.
 

overcast

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Sometimes joining facebook groups and then redirecting some of the group users to your forum can be one tactic.
 

Abizaga

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Q Army: I posted a few links on a forum I was well known on and that's about it.
GeezeZone: I didn't :(
 

DigNap15

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Yes forums are up against so much competition these days.
Youtube - is much better for getting quick help on any topic
Facebook
Reddit
Twitter
Online MSM
Blogs - every webhost pushes blogs

All of the above are competing for peoples time and attention online
 

User37935

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the ones that do stay with us have been banned by the other forum anyway, so they've got nowhere else to go. That's kind of funny in itself, but not the best reason for them to join us, if I'm honest.

It's definitely not, because you're getting all the rejects, to put it bluntly. People are banned for a reason :) Usually because they are a**holes, sorry but that's the way it is. I've seen many ex-members of my forum go on and create complete chaos and havoc elsewhere too. Also don't assume a strict moderation stance on the other forum is a weakness or problem - they might be doing things really well. PM me yours and their forum URLs if you like, I'll give you an honest opinion.
 

evcom

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Apr 27, 2018
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Sometimes joining facebook groups and then redirecting some of the group users to your forum can be one tactic.
I've tried this with very mixed success. Some open minded Facebook people might join another network (your forum) if it provided an added value, e.g. better search, better structure). But many also just stay with FB because they just don't want to engage elsewhere.
I think using FB to promote a forum is fine, but it's manly for traffic and not to increase your member base.
And, just make sure not to spend too much time on FB as this can be a time-wasting engagement. Spent time might be invested better elsewhere.
 

evcom

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Yes forums are up against so much competition these days.
Youtube - is much better for getting quick help on any topic
Facebook
Reddit
Twitter
Online MSM
Blogs - every webhost pushes blogs

All of the above are competing for peoples time and attention online

True. That's way it's in many cases an idea to go beyond a forum and to offer other content too (if time allows it). E.g. Invision Community goes down this path and offers beside the forum app also other functionalities (cms, e-commerce, downloads, databases). It might not always work but this way it might be more attractive to some folks. Also, the word 'forum' has some antiquated touch. 'Community' might work better these days...
 

DigNap15

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True. That's way it's in many cases an idea to go beyond a forum and to offer other content too (if time allows it). E.g. Invision Community goes down this path and offers beside the forum app also other functionalities (cms, e-commerce, downloads, databases). It might not always work but this way it might be more attractive to some folks. Also, the word 'forum' has some antiquated touch. 'Community' might work better these days...
Yes Forum is not really a good word for three reasons
One its antiquated as you say
Two It also means a physical meeting like a conference
Three Google does not seem to like forums
 

Splinter2

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Dec 9, 2017
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It's definitely not, because you're getting all the rejects, to put it bluntly. People are banned for a reason :) Usually because they are a**holes, sorry but that's the way it is. I've seen many ex-members of my forum go on and create complete chaos and havoc elsewhere too. Also don't assume a strict moderation stance on the other forum is a weakness or problem - they might be doing things really well. PM me yours and their forum URLs if you like, I'll give you an honest opinion.
I should have explained that our members that were banned from somewhere else, were banned for mentioning other forums in PMs and also for objecting to each of their posts being moderated before being shown.
In my book, that's an abuse of privacy and Soviet-style censorship that has no place in any forum.
Since joining our forum they are valued members.
 

Joel R

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Now most people have probably realized that a forum is very difficult to build up. Especially if you have under 100 members. Even if you have a 1,000 or more members it's probably difficult to get people to join. Especially if you're going against other already established forums that have tens of thousands of members. For all of you already have a successful forum or a forum that is "somewhat" successful: How did you get your forum from zero members to what it is now? Did you start off by creating tons of fake posts and accounts or did you hire forum posters? Maybe you exchanged posts with other forum owners or had your friends help you out. This is definitely a mystery to me that I haven't been able to figure out. So far every single forum I've tried starting up has been a complete failure.
The web is getting competitive. You can't just install a new forum and a fancy theme, then hope-and-pray that members will come. Fake posts, forum promotion on forum directories, and post exchanges are low value strategies.

There are two ways to get members:
1. You have an existing audience.
2. You develop best-in-class content.

#1 is easy, but you need to be affiliated with a brand or growing market. #2 is hard but it will always attract new users.
 

Nev_Dull

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Apr 27, 2010
Messages
2,263
I agree with what Joel R says above.

#1: Having a pre-existing audience. My forum was born from a stagnating, local real world group. I started the forum to reach new members. The real group still exists and has enjoyed some renewed interest, but the forum has become the heart of the group, with members across the country and around the world.

#2: Best in-class content. I'll admit, I don't know what that means, though I suspect he's referring to ensuring your forum has high value content related to the forum topic rather than a heaps of idle chat or unanswered questions. This is vital if you want people to keep coming back.

I would add some other options.

#3: Build an audience. If you don't already have an audience, make one. The only good reason to start a forum is to address a need that isn't met by the existing offerings. When you take the time to analyze those needs and what sort of people share those needs, you'll have defined your audience. From there you can build a forum that speaks to them.

#4: Protect the environment. I'm not talking about switching from plastic to paper here. I'm talking about creating and maintaining the right forum environment. We probably all know a forum or two that has some really good content but isn't a place you want to spend time. Building a forum where people want to spend their valuable time is probably one of the hardest things to do. It's an ongoing, uphill slog that never ends. But when it's working, you finally understand what people mean when they say "forum community."
 
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