For a forum to become successful we have found the most important ingredient is a critical mass of users. But if you have traffic, how do you capitalize on it to gain traction? We offer the following suggestions:
- Make it easy for users to find and participate in your forum. E.g., create a large, unambiguous link from your main site.
- Get buy-in from the highest level of your organization (e.g., CEO) and thought leaders in the community. In other words, make sure the “cool people” are using your forum.
- Make your forum a welcoming and hospitable place for new users. Encourage participation by ensuring users will get a reply in a timely fashion.
- Help users achieve personal goals (especially make money, lose weight, achieve higher job satisfaction, etc.). Encouraging users to ask for help, encouraging users to help others, and encouraging #humblebrags makes for a good mix of content.
- Remind users to visit the forum by sending relevant email alerts and highlighting recent activity in other verticals (e.g., monthly newsletter).
- Let the “network effect” take over so the forum becomes self-propelling and users visit the site out of habit.
- Reward and recognize users for contributing to the forum.