Tips on promoting your forum

Just some tips on promoting a forum. It’s aimed more at people who have forums by free forum providers, and covers a few beginners mistakes.

  1. Don’t do loads of “cool” stuff on your board (javascript, dhtml etc.). It’s an amateur’s mistake for normal websites and it’s an amateur’s mistake for forums. Look at the best boards in the world. Do they have all that cr@p?

  2. Pick a unique name for your board, and try to brand it. Don’t just call it your message board or, even worse, your bulletin board. If you don’t want to buy another domain name, I also have a forwarding address for The Punters Lounge ( punterslounge.cjb.net/ ) which is a lot easier to remember and type.

  3. Don’t make do with your board’s defaults OR their themes. Both boring.

  4. Don’t be rude to other people. Invite them to the board, and when they come, welcome them.

  5. Don’t tolerate spamming - a lot of people don’t mind it because it is, in their view, posts, but they aren’t really posts.

  6. Don’t tolerate flaming either - a disagreement is fine, but any more just puts other people off joining in for fear of being slated. It also sets a precedent - people may want to join the board just to slate.

  7. Don’t have “Mod / Admin” boards only. It just makes the others feel left out. You can communicate with your mods and admins via e-mail.

  8. Don’t demand registration first, until you have a good base of registered members (at least 100).

  9. Make use of each board’s features e.g. EZBoard’s opportunity to give titles to people depending on their number of posts, and make them innovative. For example, if you run a martial arts board, you could make them a white belt for the first 50 posts, give them a yellow belt for 50-100 and so on.

  10. Don’t have a hundred forums. Start with one or two and expand as your members demand.

  11. Here’s something that you should definitely do. Recently I’ve started a program where sites in the same vein as mine that have no board or a crap board can adopt mine as theirs, in return for a link at the bottom, which will, of course, be seen on every page. That then encourages that webmaster and his “fans” to post, which encourages others to post etc. Have a link on your board explaining it and giving them images etc. This really is a good idea, IMHO. The bigger sites you can give a top-of-the-board link and make the webmasters moderators.

  12. Run comps etc. - if you have sponsors, perhaps they can be persuaded to provide a prize?

  13. Mention your board in every correspondance, put it in your signature.

  14. Don’t have huge pics at the top that take forever to download - they also mean that people have to scroll down to get to the forum!

That’s all I have off the top of my head. Anyone got any more? :slight_smile:

  1. Promote your board with doorway pages.

  2. For indexing with the search engines, the board can be placed in a two frame frameset where the top frame is 0 pixels high. You can then optmize the NoFrames content of the frameset.

  3. Have one forum for what I like to call “Member Spotligt.” In my forums this is an area where members can share in depth articles they have authored. Also, if you have a forum like this it gives you a good opportunity as you surf the net to invite authors to post their articles on your message board.

Originally posted by OllieO

  1. Don’t have “Mod / Admin” boards only. It just makes the others feel left out. You can communicate with your mods and admins via e-mail.
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Also the problem with Mod/Admin boards is that someone always leaks the information. Unless you and your best friend are the mods, and no one else, then you can just about assume non-mods know.

My addition:
18) Allow swearing. People are just going to get a way around it and everyone hears it on the news, TV shows, other sites, etc. If you’re worried about professionality then don’t have a forum…SP does, so it’s probably worried about different things here at the forums.

I agree qslack, i allowed cussing, swearing, and everything possible. Then a good freidn posted a topic called AZN music. most of my registered memebrs were asian and tehy had a dispute over if korean music was better or chinese. It eventually turned out that it wasnt about the music anymore. it was about which race ws better which really upset me. I locked teh topic and disallowed anything for a while(check out my forum and see pplz make fun cuz i did that)but then i allowed swearing cuz pplz were gettin pissed. I made my forum 3 days ago cool eh? http://forumco.com/mph0en1x

  1. Have a topic that people actually want to talk about! :slight_smile: I’ve seen a lot of people complaining that they don’t have any traffic on their bulletin boards, and their site is nothing more than their personal home page. The most you can expect from a site like that is your friends posting and the occassional spam for a get rich quick scheme.

  2. Get the ball rolling (post messages & have your friends post messages) before you unveil your forum. No one wants to post in an empty forum.

I have to disagree somewhat on the cussing. If you have an ad network for your site, they often prohibit swear words. It depends on your site’s purpose and your audience. If it’s a professional site, you might want to block certain words. But if your site is about Eminem, for instance, blocking cuss words would be the death of your forum.

A little trick I learnt when I was starting out was to have conversations with yourself. Sad, I know, but it makes the board look busier (obviously post under different names!). People tend to lurk for a while before they feel ready to post. Partly because there’s little point posting on an empty board, but also because forums can be quite cliquey - you wouldn’t just go up to a group of people that were chatting in a bar and join in on the conversation. The lurkers have to almost get to know the people by reading what they have to say. This is why it’s so important to welcome people when they make a first post - not only will it make them feel at home, but it will encourage them to stay and feel liked; it also sends out a message to other lurkers that when they post they will be welcomed into the group. :slight_smile:

Originally posted by OllieO

  1. Pick a unique name for your board, and try to brand it. Don’t just call it your message board or, even worse, your bulletin board. If you don’t want to buy another domain name, I also have a forwarding address for The Punters Lounge ( punterslounge.cjb.net/ ) which is a lot easier to remember and type.

Can anyone think of any good alternative names or words for forums/message boards/discussion boards/bulletin boards?

  1. Mention your board in every correspondance, put it in your signature.

This sort of thing has really boosted my forums traffic. When a “thank you” message is sent when someone uses my mailform, I have a “Please visit our forums” message. I’ve seen a lot of people sign up and start posting on the boards before I even get a chance to write them back!

Well I’ve called mine “The Punter’s Lounge” - obviuosly, a lounge being a place where people come in and chill, relax etc. It doesn’t really matter what you call it - it just makes it a little easier to brand and remember.

“Way Too Personal” has me stuck though…

How about some alliteration? “Dating Discussions”? No, that’s gash. “Single’s Corner”? “Dater’s Lounge”?

Sorry, they’re all terrible. Feel free to adapt them in any way, if you can. :slight_smile:

I’m thinking of just something like clubwtp or wtpforums (boring, but easy to remember), since wtp is what everyone there calls it anyway. I asked a bunch of the regulars for suggestions, and they almost unanimously wanted ilikeelephants.com. I have some strange people on my site. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. :smiley:

The biggest problem I have is people who think the site is a dating service, when it’s actually a place to talk about dating (advice, complaints, etc.). So if we had anything too “singles club” sounding, I’d be getting even more offers to become someone’s “special friend.” :goof:

Ooh! That’s another piece of advice: Make sure people know what your forum is about!

ClubWTP!

That’s the one! :slight_smile:

Probably best to stay away from Ilikeelephants though - your dating regulars have some weird tastes - they like the heavy ones, eh? :wink:

Well I have a forum and I called it Busta Kartoon’s Trash Talk. I have a link from my site (www.bustakartoon.com) to it. I used trash talk as an alternative to “forums” or “discussion boards” etc.
Check out my forum at http://www.forumco.com/bustakartoon and tell me what you think I should do to make it better.

OllieO-

What is the best way to contact you? I would like to talk to you about your forums. I run a sports forum too.

Can anyone think of any good alternative names or words for forums/message boards/discussion boards/bulletin boards?

Well I use Trash Talk as an alternative on my forums.

4thandLong - just drop me a line

  1. Here’s something that you should definitely do. Recently I’ve started a program where sites in the same vein as mine that have no board or a **** board can adopt mine as theirs, in return for a link at the bottom, which will, of course, be seen on every page. That then encourages that webmaster and his “fans” to post, which encourages others to post etc. Have a link on your board explaining it and giving them images etc. This really is a good idea, IMHO. The bigger sites you can give a top-of-the-board link and make the webmasters moderators.

I thought this would be a good idea, and I just send emails to several sites, which use a really ****** board with no visitors. It was a real polite messgae and told them they could be moderator as well.

What happened: they replied and just wanted to trade links (they wanted to have a link on all my forums pages at the bottom and the top), or they told me, they could set up a vbulletin board as well.

What’s the problem? Webmasters tend to think they need their own forum, even if the don’t make any money and don’t have any users.

Actually, this is a german site.

That’s funny, because although that happened with one or two webmasters, the vast majority of webmasters were well up for it, so now I have 11 sites (including my own) using my forum as theirs. That’s a lot of people seeing my banner at the top of every page.

Definitely a good idea if you have a fairly thriving community and you want to extend it.

I’ve used Tip #11 to make some “webpartners” that drive posters to my message board site. It actually has worked out pretty well. I’ve only dealt with very small sites, though, but my message board community is more for fun than for profit, so I haven’t spent much time on promoting the site.

I contacted one company, though, about becomming their message board, and I got a response that they wanted to fold my message board site into their larger site. They’ve made vague references to “some sort” of compensation, but I’ve gotten no specifics on that. So sometimes by making a contact with a website, you might get offers that you weren’t expecting. Maybe they’ll be worth it, maybe they won’t be. (I don’t know if the “offer” I got is worth it since I don’t know what the specific offer is yet. We shall see.)

  1. Do not allow HUGE signature pictures, they can make a forum a real hassle to use. ( At least that’s how I feel about it! :slight_smile: )

Hi Together! I’ve also used Tip #11 to make some partners that drive posters to my message board site - which really worked out well! I started my forum in november - by now I am @1530 posts and 153 reg. users (which is quite ok for a german mountainbike-forum)
now my tip for you:

#22 Invite well known companys if their products are discussed; using the “Send This Page To A Friend” feature this is really simple - people inside the forum mostly are impressed if they get an answer from the manufacturer of their own bike (in my case)
:slight_smile:
Tom

“8) Don’t demand registration first, until you have a good base of registered members (at least 100).”

I agree with not demanding registration at first, but I think the number should be a bit higher than 100.

I kept open registration until I hit around 250, then closed the board…registration dropped off…

I opened it back up, and registration picked up again…it seemed that visitors who posted didn’t like being identified as “unregisted” in their post…they wanted to be an “honorary SoulCyster”…

When the registration hit 500, I once again made registration mandatory…and within 2 and a half months, we topped 1200 registrations…I’m thinking that once people saw that the board was ‘frequented’ by others, they were more willing to register…

Also, even when the board was “open” registration, the forum where you could ask me a question directly was always registration only.

I also found that by asking my visitors what forums ‘they’ wanted helped to make the board better…40 % of my forums are from visitor suggestions…

Kat