Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past 20 years, it’s likely that you’ve used or belonged to an internet forum at some point.
They have become an important way of communicating ideas, content and forging friendships in the modern online world.
Forums began to form around different passions, groups, societies, organisations, and cultures. They gave platforms for like minded people to have real-time discussion and purposeful social interactions. These days, they have also become a good way to build a following and monetise your content or services.
So, you want to create a forum yourself? Before building a forum there are some questions you’ll want to ask yourself to help guide the process. We’ve compiled what we believe are the 5 most important questions to ask yourself before you create a forum.
1. What is the forum subject?
You’re competing in a crowded marketplace; the internet is filled with active forums. Choose the subject for your forum wisely. Take a new angle on a popular subject or create a forum for a subject that is underrepresented on the internet.
For instance, many people are setting up forums on things that matter to them or their communities, and using them as a way to share their passions.
For instance, if you’re really into conservation and using eco-friendly products, you could create a forum that involves people in conservation projects and shares details of companies that have good eco-credentials.
2. What do you want to achieve by creating this forum?
Once you’ve chosen what the topic of the forum is, you need to decide what type of forum it is going to be and any goals you want to achieve. Forums provide places for discussion but what is the discussion based around? Do you want to:
- Provide knowledge around your chosen subject.
- Produce social interactions.
- Connect over shared experiences.
- Collaborate on projects.
- Build a community related to a brand, creator, passion, or organisation.
Whatever your goal is, make sure you have a clear vision for your forum and how to achieve these goals.
The best way to achieve your goals is to break them down into specific, achievable targets. So, you could say “I will have 100 active members by the end of the first month” or “I will create at least 3 pieces of unique content to share with my forum members each week”.
3. Who is this forum for?
Now you know what you want to achieve with your forum, who are the people you want to participate?
Do you want a particular demographic that will have the most shared experiences? Do you want people with knowledge around the chosen subject? Maybe you’re a brand or creator and looking to monetise the forum community. You’ll want to populate the forum with your target audience.
You need to work out how to motivate your audience. To do that, you can poll or survey people. Are they driven by things like prizes and rewards? Or are they more driven by intrinsic rewards such as doing things that are socially good or spiritually rewarding? If you have a social media or independent community group already, you can ask for feedback there.
4. How are you going to draw people to your forum?
When you create a forum, the most important resource is the users. You will need to attract people to join your forum. If you are transferring a forum to a new platform you will have a pre-existing user base. Make sure you explain why the new platform is worth joining.
If you are building a forum scratch, you’re going to need a plan for getting users to join. You could market your forum in places that your target user base is likely to use. For example, if you’re a health and fitness coach, you can try to get guest posts on big fitness blogs such as Nerd Fitness or The Balanced Life.
You could hit the ground running with posts that are going to drive a lot of discussion within the field. Get people talking about and sharing your forum with their friends.
5. What forum maker are you going to use?
There are many approaches for forum makers to use. When choosing a forum maker make sure it is capable of achieving the goals you want to achieve.
You could host a forum on a popular social media site. They already have large user bases, but then you’re just another forum on a crowded platform.
You could use a dedicated forum hosting platform. But then you are restricted to using their features with little room for customisation.
Or you could build your own forum website that gives you full control and independence. You don’t have to be able to code, there are now website and app building services that do all the technical stuff.
All in all, there are a lot of benefits to using forum makers. You get a customised forum that matches your branding, suits your needs, you have full control over, and can be monetised.
But make sure you don’t go in blind. Put some serious thought and action into the questions listed above. The last thing you want is to create a forum that nobody is interested in using, or doesn’t target the right audience for you.
Fortunately, many forum makers and platforms offer good help and support to create your own forum.
Disciple is a community platform that offers everything you need to create a forum. Forum makers can build apps for web, iOS, and Android, with full control and customisation. With features such as advanced analytics and direct monetisation, you get precisely the forum you want.