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Gosu71

Guide – How I made a successful and thriving forum

Part 1

Step 1 - Get the people before the forum is made

I spent over 6 months being a member of a very large ‘Official’ game forum.  As time went by I got increasingly unhappy with the way the moderators run the site, I also noticed I wasn’t the only one. I was a well respected member of the community and with this in mind, I decided I’d make my own forum and take with me all the best people for what I needed.

The point I’m making here is this - I’d now got a user base of potential people to join my as yet uncreated and untitled forum. Most people make a forum and then expect it to become populated as if by magic, which doesn’t happen. People spend ages making a good looking site and then get no members. My advice is to get or target the people you want and then make the forum.

Step 2 - Make the forum

I very quickly used a standard template, added a few forums to it and gave it a name. It took me 10 minutes to do and I was happy with it. I decided that if the forum took off and became popular, I’d add all the fancy bells and whistles at a later date.

I sent 15 pm’s to the people I wanted on the ‘Official’ forum and told them I’d made my own forum. It was going to be a forum by the people for the people. Within a couple of days I had over 50 members signed up to my bog standard forum and most of them had joined through word of mouth.

The point I’m making here is this – You don’t need to spend a long time making a fancy looking forum for it to become populated. If you follow the first step then the people will come. You can make improvements to your forums looks at a later date.

Step 3 - A forum for the people by the people

To make everyone happy and feel involved with the running of the forum, I made carefully selected choices for moderators. From step 1, I knew the people I wanted and I knew all about them. The ones who should have been moderators on the ‘Official’ forum but never were were made moderators on my forum. The idea behind this was simple, I wanted to give them what they wanted and knew they would stay and become a regular on my forum.


I will post part 2 once i've written it out and show the importance of affiliate sites, getting 'known' on other sites, Twitter and various other great tips that will make your forum into a thriving and popular community. I will also show you the pro and cons of having a chat box and how they affect your forum.
myff admin

All very good points.

Point 1 tends to be key, and there is only one exception to it.

The exception is if you make a forum that targets a very distinct niche that no one else is targeting and work your butt off in populating that forum with information on that niche, and then work your butt off getting links to that forum from other sites, so that people can find you.

In neither case do you need to do more work on the looks of your forum other than changing the logo.
Leedsforever

thanks for the tips..

We now have 72 members however about 15 that havent posted at all... and about the same again who have only posted once or twice.

We have sent out a newsletter to all members in the hope to prompt them back, so far only 1 has taken that bait! We are also on twitter and facebook, but will be interested in your points with twitter as at the moment Im just following loads of ppl in the hope to get recognised. And dont think its working  
myff admin

Well you have done the work on making the forum look good, and in this case I would almost say it is an exception to the rule about the work not mattering that much.

But you are picking a hard target, why is your weight loss forum the one to join? Maybe you should pick a niche within that area?
Leedsforever

admin (no pm's please) wrote:
Well you have done the work on making the forum look good, and in this case I would almost say it is an exception to the rule about the work not mattering that much.

But you are picking a hard target, why is your weight loss forum the one to join? Maybe you should pick a niche within that area?


I understand what your saying especially as there are no end out there and 2 very very sucessful ones but we really want to try hard and make it as successful as those. If you google weight loss forums we are no where in site

However I wouldnt be able to choose what to focus on if I was just going to pick a niche... ? Unless we went down the route of mums losing pregnancy weight? Something to think about definetly... thankyou.
myff admin

There is a distinct lack of the focus needed to get you into a google search. The main page title is the meaningless "mini me" and the main page is a litter of keywords. Just making the title "Mini me - New Mums weight loss forum" would have a big effect. Though lifting a ranking from page 100 to page 50 is still a meaningless exercise! The market may be just too full to get anywhere unless you go for a really small part of it.
Leedsforever

admin (no pm's please) wrote:
There is a distinct lack of the focus needed to get you into a google search. The main page title is the meaningless "mini me" and the main page is a litter of keywords. Just making the title "Mini me - New Mums weight loss forum" would have a big effect. Though lifting a ranking from page 100 to page 50 is still a meaningless exercise! The market may be just too full to get anywhere unless you go for a really small part of it.


Thanks for the advice... I really like this idea, as we could have a smaller section for those trying to conceive but cant due to weight issues and so forth.

Thankyou
Gosu71

Leedsforever wrote:
thanks for the tips..

We now have 72 members however about 15 that havent posted at all... and about the same again who have only posted once or twice.

We have sent out a newsletter to all members in the hope to prompt them back, so far only 1 has taken that bait! We are also on twitter and facebook, but will be interested in your points with twitter as at the moment Im just following loads of ppl in the hope to get recognised. And dont think its working  

I will help you.

For starters, post a write up of your forum into my affiliates/recommended sites section which is found here  Modern Warfare 2 Affiliates Section
sazzle

this is great advice, thanks.
Hopefully it will help our forum grow and grow and will give the members we currently have even more support and advice from new members.
bazfalty

Hve to agree with all the points made on here, Luckily I was in the same situation where people were not happy with the way the forum was going under the current mods, and admin so I just set my own up and sent a few PM's on the forum and within a week I'd got over 100 members, now I have over 800.
Gosu71

Part 2

Twitter and how to generate users from it

Twitter has brought me loads of usefull forum contacts, but most importantly it has brought in alot of new forum members.

Anyone can do this regardless of how many 'followers' you have. The secret is in the hashtags (#)

Our forum is a Modern Warfare 2 'first person shooter' gaming forum. Evertime I post a 'Twit' I add onto the end of my message the hashtag #mw2. ALOT of people follow the realtime 'timeline' for this hashtag, so those people are all going to see my 'Twit' which just so happens contains the link to my forum and a message saying check out our forum for the latest MW2 news  Wink. Last time I did this we got our record of 48 users online at the same time.

How can this help your forum?


If for example your forum is music related, you could send a 'Twit' saying "Check out our forum for all the latest music news here - example.myfreeforum.org  #itunes #sony #ipod"  

This 'Twit' would not only go to your followers but ALSO to the large amount of people following the 'live' timelines for the #itunes #ipod etc hashtags.

This really works and can be done by anyone. Even new Twitter users with zero followers as the secret is in the hashtags #.
myff admin

An excellent tip? What are the spam issues there though?
Gosu71

Good point raised Admin.

As of now we havn't had any spambots or spam users whatsoever.

I really do think this is a great way to help people get more members and those that do try this out, you will find you will only attract users who are interested in what your forum's theme is.

I have some more tips and tricks which i'll post soon.

On a side note to Admin, our forum is really close to being fully transfered to our new .com host. Is it ok if I stay active on here and try to help people out with hints, tips etc. Ive been here since 2005 and it feels like 'home'  Wink
myff admin

of course all help is gratefully accepted.

I meant spam at the twitter end though, presumably this system is open to abuse and controls must be in place.
Gosu71

Here is an example of this in action, with screenshots!

Our forum stats at the time -



My 'Twit' (I shortened the URL as there is a 140 character limit on Twitter messages)



2 minutes later...

Gosu71

To further prove my theory on using Twitter to your advantage -

Some 'latest news' came out regarding a game we cover on our forum. Myself and another user using our forum Twitter account 'Twitted' this news, using the hashtags I mentioned in a previous post.

We have just got our record for people online

while()

It's called tweeting, you "tweeted". Furthermore; the point of a forum is to attract people to register and contribute, correct? How many of those guests convert into actual users? I could easily get a few hundred people on my forum, but if they're not registering and posting what's the point?

My problem with all these quick solutions; buying members, posting competitions, blog posts, twitter etc. is that they do not generate people actually interested in your forum, if they're not truly interested they'll get bored and stop after a few hours/days.

I run my own forum and I have never had to do any of these methods and my forum is very popular, we get well over 50 new registered users per day and see an average of 20 users online at any given time - none of this setting the time out to 60 minutes, it's set 6 - and this is all because my forum is unique. Yes, shock horror, I went with something unique. The perfect solution; unique idea that there is a demand for or at the very least a unique approach.
Gosu71

while(); wrote:
It's called tweeting, you "tweeted". Furthermore; the point of a forum is to attract people to register and contribute, correct? How many of those guests convert into actual users? I could easily get a few hundred people on my forum, but if they're not registering and posting what's the point?

Load of rubbish.

If you actually read, you tailor the hashtags to your sites interest.

Like I have said, i've proved my theory works and im posting it for others to use to help them out.
while()

Gosu71 wrote:

Load of rubbish.

If you actually read, you tailor the hashtags to your sites interest.

Like I have said, i've proved my theory works and im posting it for others to use to help them out.


You didn't answer my question; how many of those guests converted into frequent forum users?
myff admin

he probably can't put a number on it, but it stands to reason that if you get guests then some join.
Zudane

That's fairly normal logic... the more visitors you have the more people you have signing up.

It's rough to question a site of "how many of them converted to users" when the site itself has had an astonishing growth rate from the start.

No, not everybody that visits will join, but of the say 150 guests that visted there were probably a good 10-15 that signed up.
while()

Zudane wrote:
That's fairly normal logic... the more visitors you have the more people you have signing up.

It's rough to question a site of "how many of them converted to users" when the site itself has had an astonishing growth rate from the start.

No, not everybody that visits will join, but of the say 150 guests that visted there were probably a good 10-15 that signed up.


I don't see how this can be a viable tactic to grow your userbase; he offered a ps3 - what's that, like, £300? - and posted a link to his forum, if I'd seen that on twitter I'd have clicked it regardless of what the forum was. My point is, anyone can dangle a big juicy carrot in front of people, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're going to join his forum and contribute.

It just seems stupid to me to say that twitter is a good tool for getting forum members when you're not actually targeting the people who'd be interested.
Zudane

I understand - you would not join for that reason.

But someone else may have gone for the same reason.  While they were on the forum they saw the community, they saw the posts, they saw something they liked about the forum.  Then they join.

If you can't get visitors to your site you won't get new members.   Not every visitor will join, that is certain with every single site you can possibly imagine.  In fact only a small portion will join.

The point is that if you can bring them to your site, and have your site attractive enough for them to browse it then you might make them want to join.


No, Twitter was not the reason they joined.  Twitter was the reason they found the site, the joined because they enjoyed the site.

You are arguing that what is true for one part of the visitors is true for them all, and that is a fallacy.  Some will join, some won't.  Gosu was simply pointing out that Twitter allowed many more people to find the site, the ones that liked it stayed, the rest left.
while()

Zudane wrote:
I understand - you would not join for that reason.


He touted it as a viable method to get proper members for your forum and my point is that it isn't. You may very well get a few people signing up but you have to remember that he just posted about offering a FREE playstation 3, he didn't tweet "This is my cod4 forum" he tweeted "win a free ps3". Winning free stuff isn't specific to anywhere, you could say "win a free ipod" to a bunch of people who like to play games, it doesn't mean they're interested in it. It's free stuff. I hate console gaming, but if you said to me "here's the opportunity to win a free ps3" I'd take it, but I'd never be a member of that forum.

I'd love to see the results if he actually tweeted something about the forum and not some sort of prize; he essentially was advertising a prize not his forum and that's why this isn't a good representation of the use of twitter.
Myles

I use twitter for my forum as well.

I use the wefollow hashtags for #calcio #seriea and the hashtags for the various different italian football clubs, so obviously i get members signing up as my forum is directly related to what the followers of those hashtags would be interested in.

However, and to answer Admin's earlier question, twitter frowns upon constant spamming such as "check out my forum" being always sent to the same followers of those hashtags.
Twitter bans spammers from being allowed to use hashtags and other certain privileges depending on how blatent your spamming is.

It is better for me to post a tweet with a comment like "Roma Forum - Supporters discuss new manager Ranieri >> [link to Roma thread]". This way, my followers and the hashtag followers know whether or not they are bothered checking it out before they click on it. Also, this practise won't piss people off so you keep your current followers and don't get reported to twitter for spamming.
myff admin

Thank you, that was what people needed to know.
Gosu71

while() wrote:
Zudane wrote:
I understand - you would not join for that reason.


He touted it as a viable method to get proper members for your forum and my point is that it isn't.

You are totally wrong yet again.

Read my previous posts and learn.
RyanScarp

Can you go into a little more detail about using twitter to your advantage as far as promoting your forum goes?

I'm new to twitter and only have a basic understanding. Right now, I broadcast to #mma , which I believe is my target audience. I put #mma at the beginning of all my tweets. Is this the most effective way?

Any advice is appreciated!
while()

RyanScarp wrote:
Can you go into a little more detail about using twitter to your advantage as far as promoting your forum goes?

I'm new to twitter and only have a basic understanding. Right now, I broadcast to #mma , which I believe is my target audience. I put #mma at the beginning of all my tweets. Is this the most effective way?

Any advice is appreciated!


Imagine twitter as a global SMS, instead of sending your SMS to a single person you send it to everyone who wants to access it. There's a database of all these that people can search, hash tags work in that they "associate" your tweet with a specific thing, so if you send out "#mma this is my mma forum: <link>" then anyone who searches for "#mma" or "mma" or "mma forum" will see this tweet. Hash tags are also used, in part, for the trending topics. If you see in the sidebar it says "Trending topics", these things are the most talked about things on twitter in the past few minutes, so if you and 1000 other people tweeted "#mma this is my forum" it may very well end up as a trending topic - don't try this though, they have stuff to protect people making accounts and doing it. "mma" or "#mma" would be just as effective, however it has become accepted that if you use a hashtag you're providing information on the tweet. So you could just say "this is my mma forum: <link>" and it'd be just as effective as "this is my mma forum: <link> #mma", but it is assumed that hashtags are the "proper" thing to do.

The problem is that very few people are actually going to search for this term on twitter, they're entirely more likely to use google for example, twitter is great for finding out about new discussions and news, not new websites.

I would recommend against spending your time using twitter if your only aim is to get forum members, it really won't work.
RyanScarp

while() wrote:
RyanScarp wrote:
Can you go into a little more detail about using twitter to your advantage as far as promoting your forum goes?

I'm new to twitter and only have a basic understanding. Right now, I broadcast to #mma , which I believe is my target audience. I put #mma at the beginning of all my tweets. Is this the most effective way?

Any advice is appreciated!


Imagine twitter as a global SMS, instead of sending your SMS to a single person you send it to everyone who wants to access it. There's a database of all these that people can search, hash tags work in that they "associate" your tweet with a specific thing, so if you send out "#mma this is my mma forum: <link>" then anyone who searches for "#mma" or "mma" or "mma forum" will see this tweet. Hash tags are also used, in part, for the trending topics. If you see in the sidebar it says "Trending topics", these things are the most talked about things on twitter in the past few minutes, so if you and 1000 other people tweeted "#mma this is my forum" it may very well end up as a trending topic - don't try this though, they have stuff to protect people making accounts and doing it. "mma" or "#mma" would be just as effective, however it has become accepted that if you use a hashtag you're providing information on the tweet. So you could just say "this is my mma forum: <link>" and it'd be just as effective as "this is my mma forum: <link> #mma", but it is assumed that hashtags are the "proper" thing to do.

The problem is that very few people are actually going to search for this term on twitter, they're entirely more likely to use google for example, twitter is great for finding out about new discussions and news, not new websites.

I would recommend against spending your time using twitter if your only aim is to get forum members, it really won't work.


Thanks for the articulate response. For now, I just have twitterfeed active and it'll post a link to the site with every rss tweet. Thanks again for the reply!
while()

RyanScarp wrote:
while() wrote:
RyanScarp wrote:
Can you go into a little more detail about using twitter to your advantage as far as promoting your forum goes?

I'm new to twitter and only have a basic understanding. Right now, I broadcast to #mma , which I believe is my target audience. I put #mma at the beginning of all my tweets. Is this the most effective way?

Any advice is appreciated!


Imagine twitter as a global SMS, instead of sending your SMS to a single person you send it to everyone who wants to access it. There's a database of all these that people can search, hash tags work in that they "associate" your tweet with a specific thing, so if you send out "#mma this is my mma forum: <link>" then anyone who searches for "#mma" or "mma" or "mma forum" will see this tweet. Hash tags are also used, in part, for the trending topics. If you see in the sidebar it says "Trending topics", these things are the most talked about things on twitter in the past few minutes, so if you and 1000 other people tweeted "#mma this is my forum" it may very well end up as a trending topic - don't try this though, they have stuff to protect people making accounts and doing it. "mma" or "#mma" would be just as effective, however it has become accepted that if you use a hashtag you're providing information on the tweet. So you could just say "this is my mma forum: <link>" and it'd be just as effective as "this is my mma forum: <link> #mma", but it is assumed that hashtags are the "proper" thing to do.

The problem is that very few people are actually going to search for this term on twitter, they're entirely more likely to use google for example, twitter is great for finding out about new discussions and news, not new websites.

I would recommend against spending your time using twitter if your only aim is to get forum members, it really won't work.


Thanks for the articulate response. For now, I just have twitterfeed active and it'll post a link to the site with every rss tweet. Thanks again for the reply!


A good thing to do with twitter is, if you run a website, to treat it similar to an RSS Feed, so followers can constantly be up to date with your latest news, I subscribe to quite a few people for this reason. It doesn't bring new members to your forum though, but makes usability much better and will most likely retain them as members - which I personally feel is more important than getting new members.

(not sure why I said that, it seems you're already doing it, but I'll say it anyway because explaining is fun)

Nice way to use it, high five!

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