Successful Forum: Members and Staff
By: Shawn Joseph Gossman
Welcome to article number 2 of my “Successful Forums” article series. In this article, I will be discussing how you can gain members and staff members for your message forum. In the last article, I explained methods you can use to create a forum a get started and in this article, I will show ways for you to populate your forum with members and staff members to help keep in active. Thank you for reading this article and I hope you enjoy it.
Start off with 2 or more staff members
Some people will tell you to start a forum on your own because too many staff members on a new forum will look bad, this is a myth and should not be followed. Everyone knows that most businesses have to have more than one person when they start otherwise all the workload in on one person and that is a recipe for failure. It’s the same with a forum in many cases. If you start by yourself, then it’s completely you duties to get the forum going and keep it active until active members join. You will be the one posting new topics and when there are no replies, you will then have to think of more topics to post until replies start occurring. You will also have to make sure spam doesn’t affect the community and if it becomes a problem, you may find yourself losing sleep at night just to combat spam.
If you start out with yourself and another staff member or two, then it will prove to be a lot easier to get the forum going. Imagine it for a second, you make new topics and your other staff member or two can reply to it giving you’re a chance to reply to them and presto, you have a discussion formed. While some people don’t mind being the only staff member making new topics, I personally would love to have responses from the get go because it will make the community look more active if there are discussions in progress and that is a big plus for guests that are considering registering on your forum. Plus, the extra staff member or members can help enforce your rules, make sure everything is running properly, find any errors or bugs and control spam issues.
There is such thing as too much staff though. If your forum is brand new, I would recommend starting out you yourself and 1 to 2 other staff members at the max. You don’t want too many staff members because if you have too many, there will be so much less work that some of the staff may not have nothing to do and could get bored and not be as active because of having nothing to do. As your forum grows, you will know when it’s times to hire more staff members. It’s when the workload is starting to overwhelm you and your other staff members then it is time to expand the staff team a little bit here and there.
Getting those first few members
Now it’s time to help populate your forum. You can do this by getting a few members to join the forum. I recommend asking some of your friends and family if they could help you out. Let them post a little here and there for a while to help get some discussions going. Who knows, they may like the forum enough to stay and become active members. The good thing about having friends and family help out is you can tell them what sort of discussions you are looking to get and they will likely create them for you without any argument. Once you start getting actual members, you will want to let them decide what they will be discussing in relation to your forum’s niche.
Another good way to start getting some new members is to conduct post exchanges with other forum owners. A post exchange is where you have a mutual partnership with another forum owner. You join their forum a post a certain amount (or continuous) of posts in exchange that the forum owner joins your forum and does the same. You should check to see if it is okay to add your forum link to your signature as well because if you are permitted to, then you may be able to draw traffic to your forum which could get you more members. The signature link could also count as a back link which will help your forum ranking on search engines but that is a subject that I will go deeper in as I write more articles in this series. Please be sure to post quality content when making exchanges even if the other forum owner isn’t. Don’t place negative points on your reputation just to do the same as the other forum Post Exchange partner.
Another great way to get new members and posts is to use a service such as PostLoop.com which allows you to join and place your forum in a directory. The process for forum owners is quite simple; you have to have points to enable your forum in the directory. You get the points by either posting on other forums within the Post Loop directory to gain points or you can purchase points at a fair price. Once you have a positive number of points, you can enable your forum to be joined by others and posted on. Please note that when members post on your forum, you will start to lose points so you will need to keep posting or purchasing points in order to keep your forum active on the Post Loop directory. I personally purchase points because it seems to take less time than having to post on other forums to earn the amount of points that I need.
Keep the forum active
Once you start to get new members, it is important that you keep your forum active with plenty of new content so that the members have something new to return to. If you think they will join and take over posting new content, you will likely be disappointed because that is usually not how it works out. You need to work hard for the first several months to even few years of your forum in order to get it to a point where members will join and post a lot of new content. Even if you get to that point, you will still need to be fairly active on your forum otherwise it can start to fail and it will be harder to get back into that extremely active mode to prevent it from dying. Trust me; I have learned this from my nearly 15 years’ experience of running message forums.
Run a contest. A good forum contest on a brand new forum is ideal for getting a new forum more active. I would recommend either running a referral contest making the member with the most referrals a winner or running a posting contest making the member with the most posts the winner. If you do run a contest, you need to give out prizes. In this day and age, money seems to be the best prize to give. However, if you cannot afford to give money prizes away, you could always give members special premium memberships for free which allow them to have extra access to other features and sections that could be hidden from everyone else.
Remember those first few who contributed the most! One my forums, each and every one of them, I have a special membership known as Charter Member which is reserved for 10 to 20 members only and its extremely prestigious to get that membership. It’s basically a premium membership for life and free but it’s even more than that, really. I only give a member Charter Member status when they are a part of the first members to join that forum that have contributed a lot to the forum. These members could be the ones who referred a lot of new members, posted often, was very helpful or were very kind to others members. I recommend that you do this because it will actually keep active members on your forum because you are giving them a prestigious thank you for being so active.
You now have the knowledge and skills to help start and boost the first activity on your newly opened message forum. In the next articles within this series, I will be discussing how to deal with problems on a forum, how to advertise and market your forum and lastly, how to start earning money by having a message forum. Thank you for reading this article, if you like it, please consider replying to it with your comments and other ideas on how a new forum owner can get new members and basic activity on their forum. You may post this article on other forums as long as text stays intact the way it was first presenting including the link to my forum on the top of the page.