A few days ago, DavidG who is a member of the Hive community announced the launch of his new forum, http://www.eatingbritain.com/forum/. During the discussion related to forums, David showcased some of his stats for previous discussion boards that he had managed to sell and it was obvious that the man knew what he was doing. So I asked David if he could share some of his tips. He did, and here they are.
1) Target MySpace. Get an account there, let it run for a couple of days with just a set of info and some nice clear big graphic links to your forum.
Then start searching the ‘forums’ and ‘groups’ along with commenter’s and friends related to the subject. Send each one a personal message. Try to hand pick and get a core set of users to check you out. Try to make each message personal and don’t spam. This is the time when you can get core users, potential Mods and strong promoters.
2) I am loathe to give this one away, but if you are doing anything for music or artists jump to the virgin radio website, become a VIP and submit news etc to the site linking back to news threads on your forum. They always approve it and its some great links, traffic and marketing etc.
3) Press releases can do massive work for you, especially if you actually pay some money and do it properly. Include the url in full (with http) in the copy and it will get you nice links, clicks and reading as well as get promoted by people. Try especially to choose a press release service that will push you via Google News as well. Many sites pinch RSS feed links from their and auto post in their own forums so its a nice way to show up without promoting yourself.
4) Personally say hello to every new member up to number 100, then as many as possible after that.
5) Implement changes that users requests, add new emoticons and announce them for users to play with. Make them feel you are doing stuff for them.
6) Start with no more than 6 forum areas to prevent the forum from looking empty.
7) Reward early users with custom user titles, mod rights etc.
8) Facebook, mybloglog, ping RSS feeds of your forums etc
9) Include / write about news actually within the forum and ping that as a seperate RSS, especially on the latest news that people will be searching for. Some will join just to reply and thats a new set of users right there.
You eventually reach a tipping point where the thing runs itself. I have a number that I will only look at once a week. Get your mods on your msn / gtalk list etc so they can contact you directly with any questions or problems. They will bother you little, and often you can say “make it so” and they will manage it all.
Finally, youtube. Youtube is a great way to get new people. Just upload videos that have a 3 second screen with your logo and web address at the start and end, perhaps even a bar along the bottom all the way through too. That can get you lots as people there are normally interested in what they are watching.
I want to thank DavidG for not only becoming part of the Hive, but for sharing his experience along with tips and tricks for managing a forum. If you are looking for more information in regards to managing forums, be sure to check out my two part interview I conducted with Patrick O’ Keefe.
Interview With Patrick O’ Keefe Part 1
Interview With Patrick O’ Keefe Part 2