One trend I’ve been noticing is that website owners are adding forums on their business site to go along with their existing business blog.
If you’ve read this blog, you know that I definitely think having a blog is a good idea. But what about forums?
Why Forums are Great
Forums in general are a great tool.
First, they build community on your site. Second, you get free content that can drive traffic through the search engines. Third, you’ll increase repeat visitors since people will be coming back to see if anyone replies to their posts. Fourth, as people create content and participate on your forums, they’ll have sense of belonging and involvement. This often leads them to tell their friends to check out their posts and participate on the forum.
Forums Need a Critical Mass of Users
Despite all these great benefits, it’s not enough to just add forum software to your site and wait for people to show up and start conversing.
To make a forum work, you have to have the right foundation in place. Here are some of the things to consider.
Forums need a critical mass of users to work. When I say users, I mean people that actually participate in the forum and create content. Even if you have a lot of traffic, that doesn’t mean that your forum will do well.
Many people will be glad to read forum posts but they don’t want to participate. I would check your blog and see if you get a lot of blog comments. If you do, that’s a good sign.
Also, if you have regular commenters, that’s another good sign since forums thrive when there is a group of regular users that form the backbone of the forum community.
Finally, unless you have a huge amount of comments like 20+ per post, you may want to shut down your blog comments and just have a forum section where people can respond to your blog posts. After you close your blog comments, start creating a forum thread for each of your new blog posts and then link to the appropriate thread at the end of each blog post.
Over to You
What do you think of forums?
Do you participate on them? Have you ever tried running one?