Building a forum is a great way to create discussion with people from all over the world.
Forums are often created by enthusiasts looking for a place online to meet with like-minded people. This kind of forum tends to attract passionate people with a keen interest in the forum topic.
Active forums are also a useful tool for businesses of all sizes. Building a forum can enhance a company’s online branding and marketing. It allows consumers to engage with the company and each other. It can also be used to create a passionate and enthusiastic following.
However, there can be challenges when the time comes to create a forum for a business.
You need to build a community that remains engaged and active over the long term, not just a five-minute wonder.
Luckily, we have a lot of experience helping businesses to create and grow their online forums, and we’re going to explain everything you need to know. This will give you the best chance of success. From finding your audience to choosing a forum maker, and management tips, we’ve covered every base.
Find your tribe
When starting a forum, you need to identify and find your target audience. Then, you need to figure out how to get them to join.
This could mean marketing your forum to existing customers via posts on social media or newsletters. Or it could mean reaching new people. For instance, you could ask some of your loyal customers to post about your forum to attract others.
A good way of finding new users when building a forum is to advertise on related forums and message boards. Find some that your target audience is already using. You can guarantee these are people who enjoy engaging in forums and they’ll be more receptive to joining yours.
Creating a post about your new forum won’t cost you anything and can lead to lots of new members. Explain the added value on offer by using your forum, whether that’s exclusive content, competitions, rewards, etc.
Building a forum that maintains an engaged user base over a long period of time is a difficult process. The internet has a large graveyard full of once active, but now long-abandoned forums.
To succeed, you need to hit the critical mass of engaged users producing enough content on their own to keep people visiting the forum. The 3 keys to achieving this are:
- Create a community culture and purpose so that your audience keeps topics relevant and find new topics to discuss.
- A continual flow of new users discovering your forum. New ideas and points of view to keep the discussion alive.
- A good user experience. You need to build a site and app that keeps people returning to your forum.
Choosing a forum maker
To create a good user experience, you’re going to need to choose the best forum maker. Forum makers deal with the technical side of building a forum so you can focus on the people using it and the content within it.
There are now plenty of forum makers on offer, but they don’t all offer the same features and benefits. You need to choose the one that offers the most control, customisation options, branding, and tools that your forum requires.
With a good forum builder, you can create a forum that puts you in control. You should be able to customise your forum at each step of the process and be able to tailor your forum to your audience. Good forum makers offer a wide range of features, including advanced analytics and built-in monetisation options.
Make sure you choose the right one to help your business create a forum that engages your members and boosts your revenue.
Managing your forum
There are plenty of things for you to think about when deciding how to manage your forum. Here are some tips:
- Set the rules of your forum. The specific rules will depend on the community you want to cultivate but will likely include banning offensive language, abusive behaviour, self-promotion, and spam.
- Spam is an important factor to be aware of when managing a forum. A good way of combating this is marking all hyperlinks as “nofollow” in the source code. This removes the incentive for spammers to leave irrelevant hyperlinks on your forum. A good forum maker can support you with technical aspects like this.
- In the early days of building a forum, you are going to have to be extremely active to foster early engagement. Some surefire ways to boost early engagement are posting high-level content that is value rich, hosting live-streams, giving away free stuff (training, resources, tools, etc), and running competitions or contests.
- Monitor your forum to gain insight into your community. Learn what creates the most engagement and draws new users.
- Build your moderation team to ensure it remains well run and spam-free as it grows.
Disciple’s community platform allows you to publish content, moderate, and monitor your forum from a single simple-to-use console.
Get in touch with Disciple to build a forum for your business that is fully branded and independent. Disciple is waiting to show you how to engage, manage, and monetise your forum.