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Thinking of adding a forum?

Posted by Michael Bloch in web development (Thursday August 27, 2009 )

Considering adding a forum as a way to generate traffic and attract customers? A forum *may* work for your site, or but it’s more likely to work entirely against it; particularly if it’s a new site – here’s why.

If your forum has no activity, it can reflect on your entire site, your products and your services in a negative way. It shows (either rightly or wrongly) a lack of interest in your business.

The ghost town forum most commonly occurs on new sites – it’s often just down to a numbers game these days. Even on the busiest forums, only a relatively small percentage of those who frequent them actually participate. Given that, if your traffic is relatively low to start off with, don’t expect much activity to occur.

While there are lots of forums out there with substantial activity, you’ll notice that many of them have huge resources to throw at promotion (sometimes paying for member signups) or were established pre-blogs; the early birds have caught the worm. The only other real exception is connection with free applications that have become very popular.

I feel that if new sites want to encourage a community to grow, a blog or even Twitter is likely a better way to start.

With a blog, you can post up interesting items related to your industry and people can leave comments. Even if no comments are posted, you still have valuable content for people to read; a chance to show your expertise and familiarity on a topic – and it gives search engines great fodder to latch on to.

As your readership builds, occasionally request from your readers something they’d like to see discussed. If activity becomes solid, that’s the time to branch off into a forum, but even then it’s a case of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it – stick with the blog

With a blog, it’s also a bit easier to control things and guide the conversation. Additionally, once you’ve posted an item, you can also post a link to it on Twitter, which takes a few seconds.

That all might seem like a bit of work, but my opinion is that building a forum-based community requires even more effort when it comes to new sites; with less chance of a return.

Learn more in my article – Forums as marketing tools.


Twitter as a marketing tool – beginners guide


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