3 Things You Need To Know About Free Popover Genie Special Offer

This special offer is good for a one year subscription to the Popover Genuie Starter plan.

1. What does Popover Genie do?

Clients told us they need users who visit their forum to actually sign up/register. Many users, especially those who find the forum from a Google search, will reap some advice and then disappear forever.

Popover Genie prompts users to sign up/register before they disappear which in turn allows Ninja Post clients to grow and monetize their forum communities faster.

2. How do I take advantage of this free special offer?

Start by signing up for your 15-day free trial with Ninja Post. After you begin your Ninja Post trial, the Ninja Post team will contact you to design and activate your Popover Genie popover.

3. Does Popover Genie work?

Ninja Post clients that use Popover Genie on their forum report that sign-ups/registrations increase by 30-50% after inserting their popover. Examples utilized by Bill Belew and We Get Around are shown below.

Questions? Chat with us.

Popover Genie example - We Get Around
Popover Genie example - Bill Belew
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How I Convert Twitter Followers Into Active Forum Users

Note: Guest blog post by Bill Belew. Bill is the founder of the Content marketer Forum which is powered by Ninja Post. Thanks, Bill!

On May 23, 2014, relying on Ninja Post, I launched my forum:

Content Marketer Forum. <= Sure. Check it out. You know want to. But more importantly you will be able to see what it is I am writing about here.

Before May of 2014, I had never been actively involved in a forum and what I didn’t know about forums far outweighed anything I knew. That didn’t deter me. What I did know was that a community of like-minded users could be a great resource to have.

Build a tribe

2 Big Problems New Forum Owners Face

Like many who have visions of creating a tribe, the immediate problem #1 was, “How do you get a whole bunch of people to hang out where nobody is hanging out?”

Then once you form a base of users, problem #2 was, “How do you get even more people to happen on your forum and stay engaged?

I know the answer to both of these questions. However, it’s the second question that I want to address is this post.

The short answer: Twitter.*

Say what?

Twitter. Twitter can be a good source of new forum users.

Forum users from Twitter

Six months ago I thought Twitter was more or less a useless platform. Believe it or not, it was one of my forum users who taught me how to effectively use the platform. It shouldn’t surprise me that in a forum devoted to how to do content marketing, someone in the forum would teach me more about content marketing.

The real goal, however, was to get people off of Twitter and onto the forum.

How to Get Tweebs to Visit and Stay in Your Forum

Step 1 – Get a lot of Twitter followers.

Not so easy you say.

Not as difficult as you think.

Step 2 – Watch this => WEBINAR: Real Followers and Engagement on Twitter.

This webinar was done by Steve Cartwright, consistently recognized as one of the top 5 content marketers in the world … and has nearly 200K legitimate Twitter followers.

In this webinar you will be introduced to CrowdFireApp. CrowdFireApp allows you to follow and unfollow Tweebs that you would like to engage with or not be seen in the same screen shot with. You can target who you want to follow, or you can follow indiscriminately. It depends on your strategy.

CrowdFire App Twitter followers to forum users

In July of last year, I had 11,400 followers on Twitter. As of this writing I have grown to 42,300 followers by using CrowdFireApp (there are others). Not bad, not bad. All I did was follow the advice in that webinar.

Read this part first and last.

Step 3 – Pay $10 for the advanced PLUTO version.

There’s an advanced function on CrowdFireApp that makes all the difference. It costs $9.99 / month (Pluto). No, I don’t have an affiliate link. Maybe I should. 😎

With the $9.99/month version you can follow and unfollow considerably more people than with the free version. You can follow up to 1000 people, and unfollow an unlimited number.

But what you really get with the advanced version is the ability to direct message (DM), new followers. More than 30,000 new followers were DMmed when they followed me.

CrowdFire App DM Twitter followers to forum

You can see my DMs in the screen shot.

CrowdFire App DM Twitter followers to forum Part 2

Every time I was followed by someone they got a message that invited them to check out my forum.

And they came.

Here’s a screen shot of how many visitors I have had from Twitter since I implemented this strategy.

Visits to Belew's Forum referred by Twitter
(Click for full size image)

Full disclosure: I also have a really cool header, a rock star profile blurb that includes and invite to my forum, and I tweet a LOT (automated).

I can tweet a LOT because I can automatically recycle old content from my home site – billbelew.com where I have a deep well of relevant content – nearly 2,000 posts.

My members get engaged. Not only do they get engaged, they have become paying students, which more than cover the costs of my forum. Some of my forum members have become contractors, earning them and me more money. The best part is some of my members have become friends. Not all of them, but some have come from Twitter.

The Most Important Takeaway Questions & Answers

Are you using Twitter to grow your forum membership? If not, then when?

Can I help? You won’t be the first nor the last person to ask me, “Bill, how did you do that? Can you teach me?”

Contact me at my forum via private message.

* Twitter is NOT the only way I acquire new forum users.

Posted in Marketing Your Forum | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sharing Content From Your Forum On Social Media. Are Share Buttons Worth It?

Earlier this week we discussed best practices for marketing your forum on social media. Many forum owners insist on placing conspicuous “Share This!” buttons on their forums in an attempt to get users to re-post forum content to their social media accounts. We have found this practice is not very effective.

Few people share content in the first place and it attracts even fewer clickbacks. Anecdotally speaking, when it comes to forum/community content, it might take 100,000 impressions to garner just one “share”. This “share” might spawn 5-10 clickbacks.

Any traffic is good traffic but since the “Share” buttons take up valuable screen real estate in an increasingly mobile world, the additional clutter is not worthwhile. This real estate would be better used to (1) highlight forum content and/or (2) nudge users to contribute fresh content to the forum.

The beauty of this approach is that it keeps the interface simple but does not preclude a motivated user from copying the URL and posting it to their favorite social media page.

We still encourage site owners to share forum content on their social media feeds. Share early and often, as we like to say. But expecting users to take on this task is asking too much. Therefore, we don’t think “Share” buttons deserve prominent placement on your forum.

sharing forum content

Posted in Forum Architecture & Design | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Methods To Market Your Forum On Social Media

Funneling traffic from your main site to your forum is probably the most efficient way to build your forum’s audience. However, it’s not the only way to attract new users. If your site has a huge following on social media, it makes sense to convert these users to forum users. This allows you to hold the conversation on your turf.

Be warned that it’s very difficult to draw users out of the “walled gardens” of social media onto your forum. But it’s worth it if you can find a couple power users. Here’s some advice for marketing your forum on social media:

  1. Make users curious. The link to your forum should arouse the reader’s curiosity. This can be achived by linking to a specific thread with a provocative title.
  2. Be funny. Who doesn’t love to be entertained? A thread featuring a series of funny photos can get readers to click through to your forum.
  3. Ask users to help one another. Asking users to help one another is a great way to inspire teamwork in your community. It also has the effect of bringing together experts and newbies.
  4. Post multiple times. It can be frustrating if your first cross post doesn’t net hundreds of new users. But don’t lose faith. It takes time to train people to use and check your forum so make marketing your forum on social media a habit. If you follow Rule #1 on this list to make users curious then you’ll probably post a different link every time so users will not be annoyed.
  5. Schedule an event. Lots of options here: conduct a Q&A with an expert, set a time for a live chat, announce plans to meet up in real life, or run a contest or giveaway. If the event is done in conjunction with a sponsor, this approach can produce a variety of benefits such as increased notoriety, more freebies for users, and it can attract more focus & energy since more stakeholders are involved.

Marketing your forum is about generating momentum. Be original, be persistent, and get people excited about your community. This is easier said that done but if these activities become habits you can convert your followers into forum users.

Posted in Marketing Your Forum | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

3 Components To The “Forum Success Cycle”

We theorize three components feed on each other in a cyclical manner so that a site owner is willing to work on his or her forum community over an extended period of time:

  • User activity
  • Motivation for site owner
  • Effort by site owner

User activity motivates the site owner to put effort into his or her forum community. In turn, this generates more user activity which creates renewed motivation for the site owner which compels him or her to keep working hard. We believe this cycle is one way to describe why site owners are willing to invest so much time and energy into their forum communities. It also illustrates how the site owner feeds off the users and vice versa. Can’t have one without the other, it seems.

Forum Success Cycle

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3 Reasons Why Unpopular Forums Require So Much Effort

Earlier this week it dawned on me: running an unpopular forum requires more effort than running a popular forum. This seems counterintuitive because a popular forum requires lots of effort so it follows that an unpopular forum would require less effort. But hang on. Let me explain why an unpopular forum requires so much effort. Here are three reasons:

  1. Content generation by large crowds is easier than content generation by a single individual or a small group.
  2. A forum that is unmonitored is a haven for spammers and bots.
  3. It is difficult to attract new users to an unpopular forum.

This list reflects the importance of making sure your site has sufficient traffic to support a forum community. It also underscores the importance of staying vigilant to keep the forum protected from spammers. And it demonstrates the empty restaurant problem which is that it’s difficult to attract people to a place that seems deserted.

Posted in Marketing Your Forum | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

The Greatest Thread Topic Of All Time?

We previously examined some creative ideas to add seed threads to your forum. And once your community is self-propelling and people know each other, it’s still a good idea for site owners to chime in from time to time. If you’re a site owner, what should you say?

One of the all time great conversation starters/icebreakers is as follows:

Name one thing you’re grateful for.

This topic generates replies all over the map from humorous to sincere and from “inside” community jokes to general items that anyone would celebrate. Chances are you will be blown away by some of the comments. Some users will follow the rules and list only one thing while others will list many more.

In many forum communities the most popular topics often revolve around hotly contested debates, “attention whore” drama, and scandalous gossip. If it’s salacious, it sells. While such topics are always intriguing, they become cloying after a while.

By asking this simple question you can make your community a happier, more positive place. We like to say that “gratitude begets gratitude.” And which forum community wouldn’t benefit from a little more gratitude?

Posted in Misc. Forum Discussion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

3 Strategies To Test Your Forum Community Concept

Assuming you have enough traffic to make a forum viable, what steps can a webmaster take to test their concept prior to investing too much time or money into a new forum?

After all, galvanizing users to contribute to your forum can be challenging. Overcoming the empty restaurant problem, getting users to make their first contribution, or simply finding likely participants is often easier said that done. Even when done correctly, this process can be tedious and slow moving.

In this post, we identify three techniques to test your community concept and generate more activity in less time.

  1. Lighting rod. This strategy involves bringing in a well known, well respected, and possibly even controversial figure to the forum. Think of this person as a high powered influencer, like a company’s CEO or a special guest brought in to entertain questions from users. (Note: mature forums often have a handful of “power users” that serve as de facto lightning rods.)
  2. Magnetic force. This strategy relates to the subject matter of your forum. How is your forum positioned? We have found that if your forum can help people get laid or make money, users will flock to you. In cases where the forum topic is mundane, we advise altering the topic to be more appealing or employing the lightning rod strategy described above.
  3. Anchor. The “anchor” strategy refers to common interest that brings people together. For example, an anchor could be a physical location such as an office building or college campus or it could be a cause that binds people together (such as those afflicted by the same disease). Another example of the anchoring strategy is bringing together people who share the same goal.

If you have adequate traffic and feel prepared to employ at least two (if not all three) of the strategies described above you should be in good shape to proceed with your forum community. If not, take a step back and consider how you can make your concept more provocative.

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A User’s First Contribution To Your Forum

Last week we examined 8 Reasons Why People Don’t Contribute To Your Forum. Of course, that research prompts an obvious follow-up question: what steps should you take to increase participation?

Readers of this blog know that one of the things we obsess about is the participation rate. How many visitors are on the forum? What percentage of visitors are logged in? How many users are active in the last month? To improve these metrics we need to understand what compels users to make their first contribution.

When it comes to a user’s first contribution, we call it the “foot in the door” technique. In a famous example, researchers asked property owners to place a small, safety-oriented sign in their front yard. Later, the researchers returned and asked to replace the small sign with a much bigger sign. They found that those who agreed to the first request were more receptive to the follow up request. Similar studies have been done to study recycling efforts and to reduce drunk driving.

Researches who conducted one of the earliest FITD studies back in 1966 summarized their findings as follows:

“Once someone has agreed to a small request he is more likely to comply with a larger request.”

This is a lesson we keep in mind when building a forum community. We keep the registration as fast as possible and we ensure that adding a new post is fast, fun, and obvious.

But a user’s first contribution does not have to be a post or a new thread. Therefore, we offer many other simple ways to participate: upvoting a post, adding a photo to the gallery, or awarding a badge to another user. These activities still have the effect of “loading the trigger” for subsequent participation.

Oh, and of course, we create a friendly, positive, and constructive atmosphere so that users feel comfortable participating. After all, if the researchers in the experiment described above had gone door-to-door with a mean or condescending attitude, we presume that most everyone would have refused even their first request.

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8 Reasons Why People Don’t Contribute To Your Forum

Most forums fail because they don’t get enough traffic. We call this the critical mass problem. However, some forums have lots of traffic and still fail. Other forums have lots of traffic and simply underperform.

We identified eight factors that stop users from participating in your forum community:

  1. No Evidence of Activity. No one goes into an empty restaurant and no one posts to an empty forum. People are reluctant to post because they’re afraid they will not get a timely response.
  2. Lack of Experts. Newbies ask questions that require expertise. If the experts in your community are not visible or accessible, newbies are unlikely to participate. Put another way, newbies need confidence that they will receive a good answer.
  3. Bad User Experience Design. If users can’t figure out how to register or submit a reply then participation will remain low. We remain puzzled by forums that lack obvious cues to register.
  4. Snobby Atmosphere. If users are afraid they will be ridiculed by “cool” users on the forum they become less likely to participate. Arguably, an elitist attitude can be a good thing because it cuts down on the volume of “stupid questions.” But we believe there’s a difference between having high standards and outright arrogance or rudeness toward newcomers.
  5. Stuffy Atmosphere. Forum participants want to feel like they can express themselves freely. If the atmosphere is too “corporate” or if there are too many rules prospects will shy away.
  6. Lack of Anonymity. If users feel like their content could be traced past their handle to their actual identity they will not chime in. Even in cases where the subject matter is innocuous, we have found that users relish the opportunity to develop a persona specifically for their favorite forum.
  7. Crippling Self-Doubt. Many users refrain from participating because they’re embarrassed about their question, they lack confidence in themselves, or they’re afraid they will somehow appear weak.
  8. Easier to Consume Than To Create. Users don’t participate because they prefer lurking, they’re on their phone and it’s difficult to reply, or they lack sufficient incentives to participate. It’s easier to consume content rather than generate content so it makes sense that many users default to this mode of operation.
Posted in Misc. Forum Discussion | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment