Top ten ways to make your forum community stand out

CompletevB

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Aug 4, 2007
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CompletevB submitted a new Article:

Top ten ways to make your forum community stand out

1. Research and discover your forum’s niche.
2. Target a specific member base and user groups.
3. Create or obtain a unique vBulletin theme.
4. Make a good first impression.
5. Link-build with similar content related forums.
6. Optimize your forum pages to be search engine friendly.
7. Add incentives for your members.
8. Create room for personalization and customization.
9. Promote it to anyone and everyone. Word of mouth is huge.
10. Start slow and work your way up. Don’t get in to deep.

1. Research and discover your niche.

Everybody has a certain passion and advanced knowledge in one category on the web or another. Search deep inside yourself to figure out what you think would succeed as a popular forum. However, your first thought is usually just like everyone else’s. Try to avoid the “John Doe” ideas that everyone and anyone has already thought of. Chances are there are a couple hundreds of forums on that topic already and it will be extremely difficult to compete with the previously established forums.

Aim your sights on a much smaller or hidden niche that has not yet been discovered or developed. (i.e. “vBulletin hacks”, rather than “Web design”) Targeting a more specific topic allows room for search engine placement potential and an easily target-able member base.

Once you find that industry niche, go at it 100%. I see hundreds of new forums fail and give up in the first few months because the owner doesn’t dedicate enough time to it. Put in the work and be patient, you will get results.

2. Target a specific member base and user groups.

Take the time to research other forums or websites that you think your potential members would hang out. A key to finding the perfect source is to search Google, MSN, Yahoo, and other search engines for the keywords you plan on targeting. These same relevant internet websites and forums provide the best source for advertisements and partnerships.

Since the big guy (Google) looks for relevant content between links you will be noticed faster. For example, don’t advertise a sports forum on a printer repair website. However, Google does seem to be caring less and less for relevancy and more for real content text links.

3. Create or obtain a unique vBulletin theme.

Every forum owner should have a goal that his/her site can stand out from the rest of the forums in his/her niche. One step to accomplishing your own identity and recognizable skin is through downloading pre-made...

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hiphopave.net

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Jan 5, 2006
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Glad to be the first to comment on this!

9. Promote it to anyone and everyone. Word of mouth is huge.

My first website was carried by a large group of friends for about 3 months until we started to do well, so I couldn't agree more
 

djbaxter

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Jun 6, 2006
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10,473
Good article!

7. Add incentives for your members.
8. Create room for personalization and customization.

To this, I'd add:

8a. Solicit and pay attention to feedback from your members as to what features they want or don't want in the forum. If they want more smilies, give them more smilies. If they want more color choices in styles, try to give it to them. make them feel that they are part of a real community. Remember that the whole point of a forum is to create a sense of family and community and you can't do that by ignoring your members - without them, you simply do not have a forum at all.
 

babybear

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May 8, 2007
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8a. Solicit and pay attention to feedback from your members as to what features they want or don't want in the forum. If they want more smilies, give them more smilies. If they want more color choices in styles, try to give it to them.

I agree with you. Before, we were strict with forum rules (i.e., no pictures allowed in the posts, no images in the signatures, etc) but members kept violating them and it seemed they want to have images and all that. So we finally scrapped the rules - we made the announcement during our 1st year anniversary and everyone went "YAY"! :lol:
 

love_bug

Super Member
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Aug 19, 2006
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243
Do you check Bounce rate?

My google bounce rate is 70%.. "I puked and left" kind of situation with my site... what about you? how do you block it, any idea?
 

djbaxter

Tazmanian Veteran
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Jun 6, 2006
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My google bounce rate is 70%.. "I puked and left" kind of situation with my site... what about you? how do you block it, any idea?

I'm confused about your post. Do you mean people find you from Google and leave again immediately?

What do you mean by "how do you block it?"? Block what?
 

Hangman

Tazmanian
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Dec 19, 2005
Messages
4,124
Very good article! I also totally agree with the following:

Do NOT try to trick your members by changing the refresh rate on the active member list. Most forum junkies nowadays know about this trick and will look down upon the forum. You definitely do not want to jeopardize your reputation over a few extra members. If your site is new, I suggest throwing a forum contest for the best poster. Not only will it increase activeness, but it will gain trust in your site.

Major turnoff!
 

annakey

Charter? What Charter?
Joined
Apr 19, 2007
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If your site is new, I suggest throwing a forum contest for the best poster.

If I tried that on Turbo Island they'd all compete to be worst poster... :(
 

MisterPersonality

Shut up and run!
Joined
Nov 29, 2008
Messages
2,898
Sound like good ways to make them more known/popular, not stand out.

Either way, great tips.

I will jot them down.

Thanks
 

pooja84

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Apr 16, 2009
Messages
14
Thanks a lot for sharing this useful article. Beginners will be definitely benefited.
 

Bruwizzle

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May 3, 2009
Messages
15
Good read, having a real niche is definitely the biggest one on there-you see so many boards going after topics that have been done time and time again and have HUGE competitors
 
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