Forum platforms allow communities to gather around a shared interest. Like minded people can come together in an online space to discuss and gain new information. This gathering of people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about a given subject make forum platforms an important area for online communication. forum platforms provide a smaller audience, but each post has a larger impact and generates greater engagement.
Without the right support, building a platform can be a difficult task. For the forum to survive beyond launch you need to be able to foster a community of active users that remain engaged and this is achieved by putting a strategy in place and making sure you select the best community forum platform available from the outset.
Who uses them?
Many different organisations and individuals choose to build online forums.
For instance, life coaches, wellness coaches, educators and influencers commonly create them to attract and engage with their audiences.
Having your own online forum platform allows you to:
- Build a following around your brand, service or product, such as a specific online course or a series of coaching topics.
- Attract and gather your diehard fans into a single location online, allowing them to communicate with each other, share their experiences and support each other.
- Share content, information, and training materials with your audience directly.
The benefits of forum platforms
Building a successful forum platform around your product or content offers many benefits:
A community of like minded people naturally creates greater engagement. Each post is viewed by an active, often knowledgeable audience who are going to bring strong opinions to points made about a subject they enjoy. Engagement is contagious, comments create more responses.
Reach new customers
When people feel part of a community, they are likely to want to share it with friends. This can also reach potential buyers who would be turned off by using a large social media platform that’s filled with spammy ads.
Forums facilitate direct communication with your audience. They can ask questions about your services, such as specific advice on healthy eating or how to create a workout plan. It may be answered by another user, yourself or your customer services if you have grown to the point of needing this support. Also, members can search forums to see if their question has already been answered.
Forums improve the experience of your followers and generate loyalty, as well as increasing your reach. This means they will be more likely to pay for exclusive content such as high-level training resources or specialist wellness advice, for instance. This leads to greater revenue as more people buy your services and become repeat customers with a connection to your brand.
Choosing the best forum platform
There are so many factors when choosing a forum platform. The best option for you, will depend on your audience.
Asking yourself the following questions will help you to narrow it down:
How do you want people to use your forum?
What do you want them to get out of using it?
It’s obviously better to make your choice based on your requirements and find a forum platform that can meet them. Rather than having to modify your requirements to fit the forum platform.
It is especially important if you are looking to provide a unique or uncommon feature. You will have to research whether a given forum platform can support this feature. Does it have a plugin to make it possible or does it allow you to integrate your own solution?
What makes a good forum platform?
Although forums tend to be unique to their community, many traits are common among successful ones. These include:
- The design of your online forum needs to provide an awesome user experience. This includes the visual look, layout, and interface. Making your forum platform look great, ensures users will enjoy using it and become repeat users. Also, a simple-to-use interface and layout often works well. A complicated, poorly designed platform never works well and turns people off.
- On a similar note, your forum software needs to be fast and bug-free. It’s important to think about how your forum platform might grow in the future. You want to maintain performance as members and activity increase.
- Many forums have features beyond just text editors for creating posts and comments. The exact features you want to integrate into your platform will vary. Choose a forum platform that is compatible with all the features you require.
Typical additional features include profile customisation, private messaging, comments, calendars to schedule events, and different ways of delivering content such as video and live streaming.
- Once you’re up and running, you’ll need moderation tools to enforce your forum rules. This could be a system for users to flag inappropriate content or behaviour, shadow banning users for rule breaches, or providing raised access and permissions to experienced users.
- Many forum platforms now offer analytics to better understand the community using it. Gain insights about the users and get a deeper understanding of how your online forum platform operates.
- Monetisation options are another feature important to forum creators looking to gain revenue from their community. This provides companies and creators with the ability to directly monetise their forum users.
Available forum platforms
There are plenty of forum platforms available that allow you to create a forum without any knowledge of coding. However, many of these tend to have basic functionality and require you to use a separate hosting provider.
When creating a forum platform, the best solution is one which gives you total control so that you get to make decisions that suit your specific needs at every step of the process.
Remember, a good forum platform allows you to customise the look and feel of your forum, post various types of content and media (videos, live-streams, etc.), and gives you full access and control over data.
Disciple’s forum software does just this. We provide all the technology you need to take control of your community forum platform. You can build a fully branded, independent forum platform for web, iOS, and Android in a short space of time
Take a look at one of our success stories here. Rod Stryker is a world renowned yoga teacher who created a community app, including forum, to share his teachings with his audience worldwide. In doing so, he benefited from 6.7 times return on investment (i.e. 670%). This just demonstrates how powerful a community forum platform can be.
You get total control to customise your forum platform at every stage to suit your community. Disciple believes each community develops its own unique culture and ways of interacting.
This is why we include a range of tools and features, as well as an API, that allows the integration of any existing tools you wish to use. Disciple puts you in charge of your forum platform’s data and provides high levels of security.
With Disciple, you can monetise your community forum platform directly to boost revenue. We offer a wide range of monetisation options including premium content paywalls, membership subscriptions, and online courses. In this way, you can tap into the “passion economy”. In other words, you can benefit from people willing to pay for the value that you provide.
Disciple allows you to control all aspects of your forum platform from the community hub. Publish content, oversee the content library, moderate members, and receive advanced analytics to gain a deeper understanding of your community forum platform.
Choosing a forum platform to build your community is an important decision. You need to consider the forum platform that will provide your future members with the best experience and allow you to achieve your goals. With your own, customised forum, you’ll soon be able to communicate with your audience directly and in a way that builds trust and loyalty.
At Disciple, you get the decision making power to build a forum platform your way. Get in touch today and learn how Disciple’s community forum platforms work, book a demo, or start a free trial.