Best ways to promote a forum?

53 replies
Do you have any suggestions about forum promotion and optimization? Any tricks and secrets?
Thanks beforehand for sharing your experience.
#forum #promote #ways
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  • Profile picture of the author richblogs
    If you can provide a place to discuss an article on a popular blog, that could well be a good start.
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    • Profile picture of the author jwmann2
      Try commenting on related blogs. Also try building backlinks to your website and targeting certain keywords. If you rank high in the search engines with those keywords, you will get free traffic and also try starting conversations and topics yourself.
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  • Profile picture of the author tharith
    That is right. You can find the place that relates to your niche.
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  • Profile picture of the author dadamson
    I know it sounds unethical but the BEST way is to hire fake posters to frequent the forum and post useful information, questions, and responses.

    Hey, nobody wants to be the first one to enter a forum haha!

    Forums are funny like that, you need to make them APPEAR big and authoritative before they actually will be big and authoritative.

    ~Dave
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeTucker
      Originally Posted by dadamson View Post

      I know it sounds unethical but the BEST way is to hire fake posters to frequent the forum and post useful information, questions, and responses.
      It doesn't "sound" unethical, it is unethical. It's called "lying."
      And it is far from being a "best" way to do it.


      Originally Posted by dadamson View Post

      Hey, nobody wants to be the first one to enter a forum haha!
      This is just not true. Like any other site, if you have great content, people will want to be there. In fact, there are tons of people who love to be the first members of a forum, or to be part of a small, select group in a forum... Especially if it is full of great content and they can sense it is going to be really big someday... And they love to tell their friends about the latest, greatest thing they have found before anyone else knows about it.


      Originally Posted by dadamson View Post

      Forums are funny like that, you need to make them APPEAR big and authoritative before they actually will be big and authoritative.
      ~Dave
      I'm sorry, but you just do not "need" to do this. You really don't.

      What you "need" to do is provide quality content in a user-friendly way, and use classical, proven methods of marketing to attract the right kind of people. This could be anything from SEO and PPC to Articles and Blog Commenting. In my own personal experience, the most powerful way to grow real memberships is actually through-- you guessed it-- forum marketing. (I know, great big "Duh!" right?) Any of these methods will be a far better investment of your time, energy, and money because you will be attracting real members.


      Like any other business in the world, trying to "fake it until you make it" almost always backfires at some point. When you stop paying those fake members, do you think they will just keep showing-up and posting for free? As the saying goes, "An illusion will work only as long as you believe in it, but the real thing will work every time."


      Now that I have stated all of that, please note that I did not say that you shouldn't buy content for your forum. On the contrary, I often pay for well-written articles, and encourage others to do the same. But I post them under my own name, and usually give credit to the author-- just like a blog or any other site.


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      • Profile picture of the author cashtree
        Originally Posted by MikeTucker View Post

        It doesn't "sound" unethical, it is unethical. It's called "lying."
        And it is far from being a "best" way to do it.
        Here's what Reddit did

        "How, exactly, did Reddit get so big? Well, according to Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman, in the early days the Reddit crew just faked it 'til they made it.' In a video for Udacity, Huffman describes how the first Redditors populated the site's content with tons of fake accounts. These days, with the site's users are wary of people using expendable accounts to try to seed their own content. But early on, Huffman said that using fake accounts driven by the founders was key to building the tone they wanted to the site. Early on the Reddit crew could shape the discourse of the site in the direction they wanted, and as the real user base grew, those standards held allowing the fake accounts to fade away."
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        • Profile picture of the author vedremo
          Banned
          Originally Posted by cashtree View Post

          Here's what Reddit did

          "How, exactly, did Reddit get so big? Well, according to Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman, in the early days the Reddit crew just faked it 'til they made it.' In a video for Udacity, Huffman describes how the first Redditors populated the site's content with tons of fake accounts. These days, with the site's users are wary of people using expendable accounts to try to seed their own content. But early on, Huffman said that using fake accounts driven by the founders was key to building the tone they wanted to the site. Early on the Reddit crew could shape the discourse of the site in the direction they wanted, and as the real user base grew, those standards held allowing the fake accounts to fade away."
          Seed content is one way. Quora is now incentivising answers. Truth be told, they probably did to some extent from the beginning.

          Personally I think that, being a forum/community, the best way is word of mouth, referrals. See how Noah Kagan built the App Sumo database at first - competition targeted at the ideal audience.

          One thing I would not do would be to attempt to promote it on a similar platform, especially if your forum is "heavily inspired" by it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    I started a forum from scratch 6 years ago now and I dont envy you at all its gonna be hard work but the results will be fantastic if it starts to take off :-)

    The way I promoted mine was bought lots of domains relating to my forum and effectively created landing pages and SEO'd those pages and ranked them.....

    For one search term I own every spot on google on the first 2 pages :-)

    You could go posting on others forums and get to know a few of the members and bring it up casually via PM :-)

    You need to make your forum attractive to the visitor to not only stay but to post as well...

    We now lock our forums to guests so that they can only read one thread then it makes them register.... this seems to work very well as once someone has registered we have made it easy to post and reply to threads etc...

    Make your forum look busy :-)

    Not a year goes by that I dont get some sort of legal action against me due to my forum so be sure that you keep track of whats going on

    Good luck

    Danny
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    • Profile picture of the author Witty
      It's like the chicken and the egg situation.

      At the end of the day, making a forum successful is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest things online.

      A good start however, is to continually write and update quality content, people WILL read if you continue to pump out quality, yes it will be slow at first, but give them a hook, like a free product, and you'll drastically increase your conversion rate, as long as your product, whether it be an ebook, a software, even a service, is something that people would want.
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      • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
        Originally Posted by Witty View Post

        It's like the chicken and the egg situation.

        At the end of the day, making a forum successful is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest things online.
        Amen to that..... its the biggest head ache as well

        But in the end you could be like me an have a forum valued at over £100K :-)

        So yes I say that it was worth it :-)
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        • Profile picture of the author Witty
          Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post


          But in the end you could be like me an have a forum valued at over £100K :-)
          Lol, exactly!
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    • Profile picture of the author davidloke
      Danny, may i know what type of legal that came against you? How did you fan them off?

      Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

      I started a forum from scratch 6 years ago now and I dont envy you at all its gonna be hard work but the results will be fantastic if it starts to take off :-)

      The way I promoted mine was bought lots of domains relating to my forum and effectively created landing pages and SEO'd those pages and ranked them.....

      For one search term I own every spot on google on the first 2 pages :-)

      You could go posting on others forums and get to know a few of the members and bring it up casually via PM :-)

      You need to make your forum attractive to the visitor to not only stay but to post as well...

      We now lock our forums to guests so that they can only read one thread then it makes them register.... this seems to work very well as once someone has registered we have made it easy to post and reply to threads etc...

      Make your forum look busy :-)

      Not a year goes by that I dont get some sort of legal action against me due to my forum so be sure that you keep track of whats going on

      Good luck

      Danny
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  • Profile picture of the author typoo999
    SEO is the most important IMO. Did you try social network promotion? That's another good way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kevin Thomas
    if you have been apart of forums for years.......and you are a internet marketer than the answer is rather simple

    use your list...I will let your creative juices flow from there lol

    I for one am launching my forum in june....my birthday as well as 1 yr anniversary for my blog
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  • Profile picture of the author Shoot
    It will BE SLOW at first. Keep at it.
    ADD NEW ENGAGING CONTENT EVERY SINGLE DAY! Keep at it.
    Get a few friends to post on it at first to keep it looking fresh.
    People want to post something and have someone else sees it and reply's right away so staying on top of the little traffic you have to keep them around it important. Keep at it.
    I have never used a "cheap" writer to post or fake users, but I have contacted and paid or worked with other blog owners in my niche to write featured stories or articles and cross promote.Keep at it.
    Those are the BASIC'S. I have much better ways to draw and engage users but that is a starting ground.

    Whats your niche?
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  • Profile picture of the author Yulia from DNP
    Same thing as promoting a product, every marketing method, just buy the niche .
    And yes, i agree that its a hard one...
    Good luck!
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    • Profile picture of the author BizzCLick
      Originally Posted by Yulia from DNP View Post

      Same thing as promoting a product, every marketing method, just buy the niche .
      And yes, i agree that its a hard one...
      Good luck!
      Thanks! What do you mean saying 'buy the niche"?

      Originally Posted by typoo999 View Post

      SEO is the most important IMO. Did you try social network promotion? That's another good way.
      Yes, I tried. Maybe you have some tips about forum promotion via Twitter and Facebook?
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      • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
        Originally Posted by Danny Cutts View Post

        Not a year goes by that I dont get some sort of legal action against me due to my forum so be sure that you keep track of whats going on
        That's a new one on me, and a bit amazing. Thanks for the rest of the post too. Also, thanks to Mike Tucker. Haven't seen that point of view expressed as well anywhere before. (The buttons are working, sometimes I feel like typing it out the old fashioned way too.)

        You do want significant traffic to start a forum, and it takes about 10 minutes after you post your first link to it online, that the bots start showing up to post spam. You need at least one other person to help moderate. Some of the stuff they post is unpleasant.

        The amount of work it takes is substantial. Yaro Starak from Internet Marketing Blog - Entrepreneurs-Journey.com recently closed his forum with over 40,000 members. He made a forum post about it. I just tried to locate that but couldn't find the forum. He might have deleted it completely. He typed a bit about why it doesn't always pay.

        For an idea of how many forums there are, and how much competition you face, try visiting the Simple Machines support forum, at Simple Machines Community Forum - Index. (It is quite a good free forum software.)

        It's almost as big as this one. Nearly every post in it is made by someone with a forum. I don't believe the kind of opportunity Danny had is still available.

        But with a bit of expertise in a subject, something might be possible.
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        • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
          Originally Posted by Lloyd Buchinski View Post

          I don't believe the kind of opportunity Danny had is still available.

          But with a bit of expertise in a subject, something might be possible.
          Well the opposite also exists where it sure is possible then for those who do believe, just like any site there are a lot of crap forums our there, so if people put in they have every chance to make it.

          Danny's forum is very nice and is laid out well but also covers a personal angle which works well on his site.

          One thing I have learnt is people talking about forums or the topic is close to religion, sex or politics, and in general I now stay away from commenting on what one person thinks i right or wrong, and people need to I suppose read and absorb and test what works best for them.

          There Is one comment I do agree with

          At the end of the day, making a forum successful is probably one of the hardest, if not the hardest things online.
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          • Profile picture of the author marknel
            There are numerous link builders looking for dofollow high PR forums so if you can optimize it for good PR in the first few months while hiring some handful of members to keep it loaded with content will ensure smooth sailing soon. You need to advertise your forum in signatures and articles like its is done normally for any site.
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  • Profile picture of the author Rod Cortez
    Originally Posted by BizzCLick View Post

    Do you have any suggestions about forum promotion and optimization? Any tricks and secrets?
    Thanks beforehand for sharing your experience.
    I found the Warrior Forum via a viral report that Allen Says wrote back in 1999. There's a GREAT lesson there.

    Allen wrote this great viral report that talked about how to make money. He had laid out a simple, but effective system on how to do this. He also showed you how to make money by sharing the report with other people.

    Inside the report he offered up a link to the Warrior Forum to learn more about marketing.

    Of course, before you promote any forum you want to make sure you have some useful content in there so that when people visit, they will want to return. Some forums, when they first start out, will offer a free webinar / teleconference every week or bi-weekly, and then discuss the webinar in a thread and/or offer additional content in a thread relating to the webinar.

    You've got to give people reasons for wanting to visit the forum and for reasons to return to the forum, so having fresh, valuable content is key. It's also important to recruit members to start participating in the forum, that includes you too. Make sure you are building a list and when you post new content, send them a reminder with a link back to your forum.

    You'll want to strike a delicate balance between promoting your forum and coming out with new content. One of the biggest mistakes I see forum owners make is one of apathy. Once the members see the owner of the forum is no longer participating before the membership hits critical mass, then they'll stop coming back.

    Critical mass is what this forum has. You'll notice it hit critical mass years ago when the members themselves created all the new content for it. Also members would spread the word about the forum in their own ebooks, reports, e-mails to their lists, on their blogs, and even in their own forums.

    There really isn't a "best way" to promote a forum, what's important is that you are promoting it, consistently, in more than one way.

    RoD
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  • Profile picture of the author amanbisht15
    hello I am new here. Can I get list of consumer reviews sites. Actually I wanna post my reviews to different sites. Plz help me out
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    Dont go down the route of of your own views on a forum... that is like forum suicide :-) You need to stay impartial :-)

    Simple Machines forum is what mine use to be run on, its good but was very restrictive and when I made the switch to vbulletin thats when I noticed a massive traffic increase and that is where the revenue comes in....

    However there are big costs to running a busy forum and that is server costs for the first few years of mine I covered it but it got harder and it came close to me having to close the site because I could not justify it

    But now the costs are still high but advertising revenue now pays for it and we are now a leading authority in our niche where companies come to launch new products and services so we also get a lot of freebies.

    The reason why we get a lot of grief is that if a company does something bad like rips a member off then the forum slates them and thats when the defamation and libel come out. I am pretty good now at dealing with it and last year we made it on the news because we were being sued by a company that was scamming people then we turned the tables and the company had to close :-)

    I worked hard to build my forum and I did a lot of things to get members that maybe seen as bad, but there are no friends in business and it can be quite cut throat, but you do what you can to be successful.

    I will never start another forum again and I will be selling mine in a few years once I have completed what i want to achieve, it may be worth less then but thats a risk I am willing to take.

    Make sure you have a clear direction for your forum and make sure you try to keep your visitors engaged and it will then grow.

    Also when i started my forum there were quite a few others in the same niche its just that I was doing it better :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author hustlinsmoke
    Facebook ads, ppc, and not to mention other forums.
    Forums are very hard to build, only the best last.

    Facebook ads would probally be very good though if you can target it down specifically to your niche.
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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    other forums are your best bet. that can reach people quicker.

    But do not make your forum seem like a ghost town, that will kill it instantly.
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  • Profile picture of the author Charan
    There are many ways to promote you forum:-

    Follow this Some Promotional Techniques

    Sending an email to all your friends
    Posting updates on Facebook or Myspace
    Using Twitter.com to reach out to new people
    Posting on Forum, Blogs
    Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
    Submitting articles to article directories
    Posting on Yahoo Answers
    Social Bookmarking on sites like
    By advertising on Google's adwords
    Using Widgets to promote your forum on your personal website and social networking profiles

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    http://www.dhost.com/

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  • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
    This has been covered a million times already on this forum. Did you do a search?

    Again, BUILD A LIST, then launch your forum.

    And listen to Mike, posting fake threads with fake members is RIDICULOUS.
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    • Profile picture of the author MikeTucker
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      • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
        Originally Posted by MikeTucker View Post

        Not sure how I forgot that in my original post? I'm distracted...

        Yes, absolutely, build your list... It's much more simple than building a forum, and you can then send your list members to join the forum.
        Absolutely.

        I recall trying to launch a forum years ago. I purchased the forum software, registered a domain name, organised hosting....then sat there waiting for members to join.

        It never happened.

        I ended up scrapping that forum and writing it off as a loss. I then began to assume that forums were a "lost cause", especially given the number of forums that were already highly established that I was competing with.

        It wasnt until I attended an internet marketing seminar on the Gold Coast that someone said to me.."Always build a list first, then launch your forum"

        At the time it confused me, but now it makes perfect sense.

        Having a big list of people that are all interested in the same subject matter, will more than likely be willing to interact with each other on a forum.

        It really would be the best way to launch a forum and have instant memberships, rather than trying to do it the other way round.
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        • Profile picture of the author BizzCLick
          Originally Posted by ramone_johnny View Post

          "Always build a list first, then launch your forum"
          Whome should I include in this list and where to find new users? F.e., I deal with IM forum, so I should look for my visitors on the forum of the same theme, some IM communities, Twitter etc.? What should I do? Make a list of emails of particular people who might be interested in my resource or just list directories where I can find a targeted audience?
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          • Profile picture of the author John Romaine
            Originally Posted by BizzCLick View Post

            Whome should I include in this list and where to find new users? F.e., I deal with IM forum, so I should look for my visitors on the forum of the same theme, some IM communities, Twitter etc.? What should I do? Make a list of emails of particular people who might be interested in my resource or just list directories where I can find a targeted audience?
            Im not sure I follow your question. :confused:

            You build a list by sending highly targeted traffic to an offer that requires an optin. Once you have a considerable list, then survey your list and ask them if they're interested in the possibility of a forum.

            Its up to you to then gauge the 'temperature' of their response and make a decision based on that.

            Dont forget Im talking in a very broad sense here. There's no doubt other members who might contribute to this thread with additional ideas/suggestions.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kunle Olomofe
    I owned a very popular forum back a few years ago.

    Here's what I did and didn't do...

    1. I didn't fret about getting traffic. I just wanted to have a place to post my thoughts, help marketers (yes it was in the IM niche) who needed free tips and tricks, have a place to discuss different POVs with like-minded and opposing-minded marketers, learn from others' thoughts and experiences and ultimately attract people to my side of the web where I would eventually build relationships with them that could in turn yield profits later. I also primarily wanted to BIC--BE IN CHARGE of my own online hang out/community, set the rules you know that sort thing--the entrepreneur spirit was strong in me.

    2. I had a co-admin, my business partner at the time so I didn't have to go it alone, it can be boring and stressful being all on your lonesome, so when I didn't answer to posts, she would and sometimes she would refer posts specifically to me to answer and vice versa. I also had other moderators but that was just a secondary effect though it helped to bring them in a lot more regularly I presume--I can only presume cos I never tracked the effect of having multiple moderators except to say it's not always necessary. 2 dedicated admins should do just fine at least in the beginning.

    3. I didn't start with MULTIPLE forums in one forum. This is a grave mistake I have made in the past (after my first forum and first success), forum owners tend to think creating many forums allows for people to target their posts better and that's true (after you have built a BUSY forum!) When you start with 5-10 forums in one, some will look scanty and that will make your whole forum look scanty. Start with one general board and don't call it general lol... Just start with your own posts and let others post whatever they want. People will get in on the discussions and things should flow from there.

    4. Your posts should be natural discussion attractors and starters. Don't go overboard with anything. Just post thoughts that you would say if you were in a room full of people with like interests and you wanted to start a conversation or lead the conversations as the case may be. I can't tell you what to post because then that would be unnatural Just be yourself. Talk. Say what's on your mind. Don't be shocked this will attract others who need a forum where they can speak their minds too and on it will go, hopefully.

    5. Participate in other people's forums where your target audience spends time, build a list of those people by giving away great content in your posts and attaching more great give aways to your signature file. After a couple of weeks on your list, let members know about your own forum. This isn't poaching, it's simply using what you have to get where you want. I don't remember (sadly) how I attracted such large numbers but this may have been one of the primary techniques. I also wrote free viral reports and ebooks a lot so I'm sure those helped attract posters. I also mentioned my forum in every report, article resource box and everywhere I could that didn't infringe on anyone's space. I didn't pay to advertise my forum. Just never needed to.

    Hope those tips help.

    Cheers,

    Kunle
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  • Profile picture of the author Ricky Dawn
    I think the best place to promote a forum is in other forums! And PPC can do well also, but you will need to populate the forum and make it look active or people will not join and participate in the convos

    Ricky
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  • Profile picture of the author Danny Cutts
    no chance :-)

    I dont want to start another forum.... I have my hands full taking this one to the top :-)

    Danny
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  • Profile picture of the author Joey Tribbiani
    It will require SEO and/or some sort of targeted traffic. Good sorts of targeted traffic are fb pages, youtube videos and forum exchange services.
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  • Profile picture of the author FreshPLR
    Have you tried PRWeb? A compact and relevant press release can work wonders, offering something new, boosting traffic and getting the backlinks.

    They offer a service with a very wide reach, including news sites, blogs, and RSS feeds.
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  • Profile picture of the author ghedman
    SEO indeed and i thing you need Service Thread to boosting the traffik, because people always try to find cheap place to outsource their projek, example WSO. Hey, i come here because that Warrior Spesial Offer hahaha...
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    • Profile picture of the author Witty
      Whilst I agree SEO is important, it doesn't mean it's impossible to make a forum successful without it.
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  • Profile picture of the author tharith
    SEO is still important to promote your site.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jami Pagan
    Good SEO, great content and if you can have lots of users who communicate on regular basis can lead to success in running forums
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  • Profile picture of the author Lloyd Buchinski
    Sorry, I remembered it wrong. It was Steve Pavlina who shut down his forum. Here is the link to his article about it.

    Shutting Down the Forums

    A short quote from that article.

    I just want to point out that business-wise the forums were never a wise investment of time and resources.
    And here is the forum topic about it.

    Shutting Down the Forums (Blog)
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    • Profile picture of the author tryinhere
      Originally Posted by Lloyd Buchinski View Post

      Sorry, I remembered it wrong. It was Steve Pavlina who shut down his forum. Here is the link to his article about it.

      Shutting Down the Forums

      A short quote from that article.

      And here is the forum topic about it.

      Shutting Down the Forums (Blog)
      The guy had change in his directions / focus and has no bearing on any one else or is not in any way related to a forum, he could have been running any type of site and lost the passion, and I am sure he will not be the last person to fold a forum, it happens daily one would imagine.
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  • Profile picture of the author Herbowo
    Expecting Google or any other search engine to feed people to you just is not going to happen

    Therefore it is hard work, ideally you need three or four helpers who will post items, and reply to them, in my experience an article that has had a few visitors will get more, an article showing only one or two visitors often never takes off

    There should be some community of interest that you can address and use other means, word of mouth, advertising emails (be sure to stay withing the spam regulations for your country) and get the people to visit.

    Be prepared to ensure that when they post they get replies, and good replies, preferably from more than one person.
    I have set up many forums for myself and for friends/clients, some take off some just die

    You have to reach that intertia point quickly where the forum is self sustaining.
    You have to think what is the purpose of your fourm and why they would want to join your forum, then find a way to target that audience with the information it is available.

    Don't expect everyone to be active, there are more passive observers to a forum than there are active contributors. Typically you will only get a few % of your joined up subscribers actually making any contribution.

    In sort a lot of hard work is needed to get it moving, go out and find those first few contributors that will act as the core to get things moving. You can try and do it on your own using several user names, but that is not easy and many would frown on it.
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  • Profile picture of the author owlfowl
    You can promote forum on other forums which is in same keyword. Basically forum needs lots of article to promote. Also you need some unique articles.
    What I do, post an article with new registration, add some members and comment to your previous post.
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  • Profile picture of the author Geoff101
    Offer something that people can't find in other places. You'll get traffic, guaranteed!

    Search out what your target audience is looking for. Visit relevant forums for that.

    E.g. some black hat forums do well from the start because they provide software and information products that pirates cannot find on the internet.
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  • Profile picture of the author DotComBum
    The best way would be doing paid advertising like PPC.
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  • Profile picture of the author alex124
    Banned
    that is very simple way to promote your forum by posting your forum different kind of article site like reddit, my space,chronicle,joomla etc.
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    • Profile picture of the author Valdenheath
      I have seen MySpace mentioned a couple of times. Is that even still going?
      Signature
      www.paidforumposting.com

      Forum posts, Tweets, blog comments, webcopy, forum moderation and more.
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  • Profile picture of the author Popche
    Let it grow Make it unique and the flock will follow it, make it worth their time.
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  • Profile picture of the author PBScott
    There is nothing special about forums, you need to create content first and then you need to drive traffic. It is very hard work, much like everything else.
    Signature

    If you don't look at this => Really Funny Shirts <= you missed something in life

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  • Profile picture of the author celente
    viral marketing, word of mouth, and PPC to get the ball rolling.

    Youtube vidoes would help too, i think facebook video ads, also as you can target and define the people you want in your forum posting, and their interests.

    I helped a client go from 0 members to swarming with 4000+ members in a month doing this.

    with a bit of testing we worked out what work, and what marketing did not resonate and just threw out the stuff not sticking, and upscaled the winners.
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