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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru
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    How to effectively promote a forum?

    Hello,

    I set up a forum for my web site about two months ago, and I have not promoted it at all since. I have a link to it on the top bar of my site and an image linking to it on the main page.

    There are very few visitors and members in the forums. I'm not expecting a lot, since I have not promoted it at all. I'm looking for tips and ideas on how to successfully promote a forum like mine.

    The reason why I installed the forums in the first place was to use the Calendar feature. That is where all my visitors go. They don't bother browsing to get to the actual forums.

    I receive lots of general questions regarding the food industry, which I cannot answer, but if my visitors posted those questions in the forums, I'm sure they can receive a better reply from someone else.

    On my "Questions?" page I have posted the following:
    Please use our forums if you have general questions regarding the food industry.
    But people don't seem to follow that little line. Anyways, what are some good ways to increase traffic to the forums and create a community? Please keep in mind, that 35% of my traffic is not from North America.

    Thanks to all.

  2. #2
    ********* Poet X Q mano's Avatar
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    Forums can be a little tricky to promote sometimes. Especially if the target-group is non-technical. They can be scary and look complicated for some people.

    Be sure to have easy-to-follow instructions and be active there yourself. Maybe if you registred a couple of users and asked yourself a question or two that you can answer, then people see that they can get help there?

    I don't know if I would use that method myself, but it might help...

  3. #3
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Give them a reason to visit the forums, get some people to post there and link to good posts in your news. Start a forum poll and post that as news too. Do something with the forums that will get people to want to check it out. ("Visit our COMPLETELY REDESIGNED forums") or something similar.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot avolia's Avatar
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    I think you should start with all the questions you receive from your visitors. Take their questions and post them in the forum yourself, and send them back an email telling them that you posted it in the forum and they might get a better answer from other professionals in your industry.

    You also might want ask them to register there too and explain to them the benefit of registering and using your forum.
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru
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    I would suggest having a sticky section of questions you can not answer.
    Do that and create multiple nicks to talk with yourself with to give the appearance of a busy forum people want to be involved in.
    OnlineSoldier.com

    The webmaster's guide to the war which is the web. Analyze monetization, visitor retention, and promotion.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot Optimum's Avatar
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    Lol. Integrate your forum with your regular site better. Any topic you find people are really interested in make a thread about it and put the link in your site. That should get a few more in.

  7. #7
    SitePoint Guru
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    Thank you all for your suggestions. I will certainly put some of them into play very soon. I was wondering, would it be better if I renamed my links from "Forums" to "Message Boards"? I think some people from other countries may have better chance of recognizing that they can post messages there. What do you think?

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast fanhost.com's Avatar
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    Darin,

    We are going through the same issues. Currently we have about 10,000 members but in retrospect to the amount of traffic our sites get, this number is low. One idea was to turn off registration for a while and get people to post and involved. If we try this I will let you know how it goes.
    www.fanhost.com
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru
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    Quote Originally Posted by fanhost.com
    Darin,

    We are going through the same issues. Currently we have about 10,000 members but in retrospect to the amount of traffic our sites get, this number is low. One idea was to turn off registration for a while and get people to post and involved. If we try this I will let you know how it goes.

    This is a specialised discussion forum you will need to be serious to get participants and give them the real desire to particpate.

    -Start not just by contacting people but those in your publics
    -Promote your forum in e-zines by writing articles
    -In the related professional press
    -Exhibition and trade related events
    -Make direct contact with trade association
    fash


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