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Thread: Populating a forum?

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob
    I have tried a paid forum posting co, which didnt really get a community going but did make it look like it wasnt an empty forum so thats worth something.
    With the newer food forum, I also paid for some forum postings, but not from a company. I asked a person whom I knew to be good at this sort of thing. I didn't want to pay for any old postings, such as, "What's your favourite soup?". I had a very clear idea of my target audience and what I wanted to provide for them, so they would see the forum as a useful resource and stick around. I gave the writer a very clear brief about what I wanted and he met the brief perfectly, and even overperformed.

    However, it did not all go to plan as despite the resource that was created, I didn't manage to attract the main target audience. (Probably because I spent too much on here instead of building up that other forum.) The infrastructure is there for a good forum (if you don't mind phpBB rahther than vB), but it just lacks the traffic it needs to take off. Perhaps I should have mentioned that the food forum was also built as an add-on to an existing site that pulls in 20-30K UVs per month, so I'd expected to be sending traffic to the forum from the site as well. It just didn't happen.

    I know much of the blame for that forum's lack of success lies on my shoulders, but you see, even with an established site behind you and even with experience of building forums, friends who'll post for you, a top-notch paid-to-post guy, having numerous conversations with myself, blog commenting on relevant sites, it still didn't happen. It's not as easy as some people might think it is.

    You also need to be aware that forum visitors can be very fickle. If they don't like the management or some of the rules, they're quite likely to migrate en masse to a new place they've set up as an alternative.
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  2. #12
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    How long did you spend trying to get the second forum up and running, Kay?

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    You mean in terms of how many months I kept on plugging away at it, or how many hours I spent on it? I'm not sure either way, but a lot of time and effort. Plus I had a lot of resources behind me to push it. Such as free advertising on a site that was getting about 5K UVs per day at the time, other free advertising elsewhere on my other websites including a prominent ad on the food blog which spawned the forum. Free advertising on other people's forums (where allowed), already being in the niche with lots of contacts, making blog comments - which were welcomed by the owners and often led to online friendships. These activities very rarely led to increased traffic for the new forum.

    I knew it was a crazy thing to do when I started that forum, but I thought that given my experience and available resources I could be one of the rare exceptions to the rule and build a forum from scratch these days. You can put money on it that I won't be trying that again in a hurry. As for monetisation of the thing, the AS trickled in and one kind person (a friend, not a stranger) bought an item via my aff. links. Not exactly an impressive ROI.

    Perhaps you could do better, but do you still think it's a good idea to set up a forum from scratch?

    I can see how you think you could do it better than your competitor(s), I looked into that aspect of things too. And I did offer more than some - still do. But it didn't build the community I'd hoped for, and indeed was arrogant enough to expect.
    Last edited by Kay; 16 April 2012 at 6:48 am. Reason: putting para spacing back in
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    I don't think it was arrogant. It's just that times have changed. A decade ago it would have been a lot easier. Now there are far too many options for a user to comment on a subject he likes - everywhere he goes sites are asking for him to leave a comment, respond to something someone else has said or even click a Like or +1 button. With that much of choice to have his say you need to provide a far, far more compelling reason for him to take the trouble of registering on your forum and you need to have a far higher level of engagement and community and interesting discussions to entice him to post regularly.
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    Kay (16 April 2012)

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    Thanks guys. I suppose, like a lot of things, there is no harm giving it a go and seeing if it works out or not.

    Hope for the best but plan for the worst and all that. Every failure is a step towards success, blah, blah, blah

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    Content and activity are two major factors when it comes to forums. When first starting out, I strongly recommend hiring some paid posters to create quality threads/topics on your forum.

    It also helps a lot to have good rankings in the search engines.

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    I've started up a forum from scratch. I'm a big believer in two old fashioned things; firstly having good content (faq threads, blogs, wikis...whatever works) and secondly spreading by word of mouth. If the material is good and the contributors are there, the users will come.

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    SteveGill, that has not been my experience with this forum. I like to think we have the content, but I've had to work bloody hard to get the members. The large majority of users here prior to our FP merger last week came from my efforts either directly by posting in other forums/blogs and via the huge amount of traffic I send this site from the .co.uk of this domain name.

    The material is good, the contributors are here but there are far too many locations now where people can leave their comments - blogs, microblogs, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites and a million other forums. That has increased the difficulty with getting a forum off the ground.
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  11. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clinton View Post
    SteveGill, that has not been my experience with this forum. I like to think we have the content, but I've had to work bloody hard to get the members. The large majority of users here prior to our FP merger last week came from my efforts either directly by posting in other forums/blogs and via the huge amount of traffic I send this site from the .co.uk of this domain name.

    The material is good, the contributors are here but there are far too many locations now where people can leave their comments - blogs, microblogs, social networking sites, social bookmarking sites and a million other forums. That has increased the difficulty with getting a forum off the ground.
    A fair point Clinton. I neglected to mention I prefer a smaller userbase of contributors to a larger userbase with lots of lurkers. And I agree these things take time.

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