Jason Fried of 37 Signals once said, “The longer it takes to develop a project, the less likely it is to launch.” Most project managers and software developers understand from first hand experience how true this statement is. From the very beginning, one of our goals with Ninja Post is to speed up the time it takes for you to launch your forum community. There is nothing worse than getting stuck in project development purgatory.
Once the set up and design of your forum is done, what comes next? When it comes to launching a new forum community, we preach feedback, not fanfare. We advise our clients to use an ever expanding “circle of trust” to launch their new forum community. Think about a steady, calculated launch as opposed to throwing a big launch party and hoping people show up.
The idea is to collect feedback, iterate based on this feedback, and slowly expand the circle of trust. In very broad terms, the launch strategy for a new forum community can be summarized like this:
- Request feedback from users
- Iterate based on this feedback
- Funnel users into the forum from your newsletter, main site, search engines, etc.
- Engage good users while excluding trolls, spammers, and other jerks
- Get value from the forum traffic (monetize via ads, examine content trends, eCommerce integration, etc.)
For any new service, user feedback is like oxygen: a necessary ingredient to survive and thrive. The approach outlined above ensures users become part of the decision process early on. User feedback can be more valuable than gold and users become invested in the success of the community. This is especially true if early access is meted out carefully. For example, you might consider making your forum private to start.