We previously advised site owners to use an ever expanding circle of trust to launch their forum community. We are big believers in the power of checklists so here is a handy guide to using the “circle of trust” strategy to launch your forum community. After your forum is set up (be it through Ninja Post or another service):
- Ask your closest confidants and colleagues to test the software by registering and creating a new thread or replying to a post.
- Ask power users to test the software by registering and creating a new thread or replying to a post. Power users include any users who have sent feedback about your site, commented on a blog post, or visit your site routinely. One strategy is to pass out “beta tester” invites to these users and to make the forum private early on. We advise contacting these users individually as opposed to sending a mass email.
- Begin to seed your forum with provocative content and shift away from “just testing” posts. Your power users should do this for the most part but if they need help, visit similar communities to see what users are talking about. Use these topics to brainstorm ideas for your board.
- Announce on your newsletter that you’re testing new forum software and need feedback from users.
- Funnel users from your main site to your new forum. We recommend a large advertisement, and displaying content from the forum on your main site among several other effective tactics.
It is easy to over think and/or delay the launch of your forum. Unfortunately, it turns out that doing nothing is a horrible launch strategy. However, the “circle of trust” method for launching a new online community allows you to proceed in a safe and controlled manner.