View Full Version : Getting people to post on a new forum

11-08-2005, 12:35 PM
I just launched a new forum on one of my websites Monday. So far, I've gotten 2 people to sign up but no one has posted besides me. I've run two other forums before, one moderately successful (it was for a very small niche hobby, can't expect many people to post.)

I'm trying out a few different things right now to drive traffic to the board. The first thing I did was put a big button link to the forum on every page of the site. A few minutes ago I added links to the newest thread topics on the top of every page (this might actually work :D )

Once I get the initial momentum going then I'm going to be doing a mailing to my opt-in list, which should bring in even more users.

Are there any other obvious methods people have tried? I know I can, and I will be able to turn this into a very active forum. Right now the site pulls in about 5000-6000 uniques a day. I think most "unsuccesful" forums fail because they simply don't have good traffic sources.

I'm interested in hearing methods some of you other guys who have built successful forums have used.

11-08-2005, 01:10 PM
Talk to yourself with multiple user names to get the discussion going.

11-08-2005, 01:21 PM
--Instead of or in addition to putting "big button links" to the forum, integrate relevant links to parts of the forum within the site's content, for example if you have an article about planting tomato plants, put a "discuss more tomato planting tips with other users in our forum" link to the tomato section of your forum on that article page. If you want to take this a step further there are some cool vBulletin hacks that can integrate lists of the latest x posts from different sections of your forums into your content pages.

--Consider loosening posting restrictions while the forums are getting off the ground. You could allow guests to post without registering, or at least drop the email confirmation requirement. This will result in more spam you'll have to clean up, but will probably result in more visitors posting. You can always tighten things back up once the forum has taken off.

--Make your registration form as short and simple as possible. After all, all you really need at first is username, email, and password, right? Most new users won't know or care about any of the other options. Users can change the defaults for everything else later in the control panel if they want to. A big long sign up form full of forum options and demographic questions will put off a lot of potential users.

--If you log out of websitepublisher.net and view the main forum page, you'll notice that Chris has set up a little announcement box that only unregistered users see that entices them to register. This is a very good idea.

I've seen some forums that take it one step further: They also put the actual (short) registration form right inside that announcement box. This way potential users don't have to "click here to register," they just fill in a username, email address, and password and click submit. Then they can start posting.

11-08-2005, 01:38 PM
There are a few "forum starter" services out there now such as http://www.forumlaunch.com/. I have no idea what they're like as I haven't used them. You could cut out the middle-man and go straight to elance to get some posts rolling in.

11-08-2005, 03:22 PM
Thanks for the great suggestions! I think I might have to register multiple names to get the discussion going. I was hoping to bypass this because I already have contacts with multiple people for this site who I have purchased content for and interviewed. I e-mailed them all and asked them to register & post. Some registered, but none posted.

Those were some really good ideas, John. I try to incorporate the "ease of use" concept into all my sites. I've read a lot of case studies about this for e-commerce sites, such as shortening the order process. I know of one adult site who puts the actual order form into their galleries. I never even thought about intergrating that concept into a forum!

Now I just have to figure out how to do this stuff with PhpBB.. or should I just drop the $$$ on vBulletin right now?

11-08-2005, 04:35 PM
I found when starting my last forum that if I posted up dumb questions (by that I mean that most of your sites visitors woud be able to answer them) the visitors would answer.

There are now 8 services like forumlaunch, so you have a few to choose from if you decide to go that way.

11-09-2005, 08:35 AM
Now I'm intrigued as to what the forum is about. PM me the URL if it's against rules or anything to post the URL here and I might add a few posts to help you get started.

11-15-2005, 07:56 PM
The forum is going strong. Nearly 50 registered users now. I did minimal "fake nick" posts -- basically 2 replies to a "your favorite music" thread, and I registered a user, made one question post -- that was it.

Earlier this evening I sent a quick note about the board to everyone on my e-list. I just checked, and a bunch of people posted, sharing some really cool stuff. Thanks again for the tips guys!

This is actually the third forum I've started. First is still around, very slow (but I'm going to redo it with the stuff I've learned here. Second one I had to switch hosts and I basically got rid of it.

If you have site with traffic, and don't have a forum yet I strongly recommend you add one.

11-15-2005, 10:10 PM
Grats on the progress. Now that you have sparked it, should be smooth sailing from here considering your traffic.

I like what Westech brought up about putting the relevant links like "discuss more ...", or "ask a question about ..." on the content pages to direct traffic to the forums. Seems like it would work well if someone didn't find what they were looking for on a page, they could jump to that section of the forum and look around or make a thread instead of just hitting the back button or closing the window/tab.

Someday I might make a forum, but I'm gonna wait until I have a site with good traffic that could use a forum or a good idea for a forum-based site... too many forums everywhere. heh

Anyways, keep up the momentum. :)

11-15-2005, 10:34 PM
Well done Cutter :)

What sort of traffic were you getting to that site? Did you do anything to the registration process (remove email verify etc)?

11-16-2005, 09:06 AM
This month the site is average a little over 5,000 visitors a day. I did put links on every page to some "hot/controversial" threads. Right now, registration is not required, but I will probably turn it on within a week. E-mail verification is not required. I added both a "please register" message and a registration box on the front page of the forum. I'm still trying to figure out how to get this to show up on every page with PHPBB. Also, I have no Adsense ads on the forum right now.

11-16-2005, 11:53 AM
If you already have 5k in visitors a day building up your fourm should be no problem how targetted is the traffic ? have u looked at the welcome header mods ? what forum software are u using ? How is ur content related to your forum ? there are to many factors... the less info you give us the harder it is to give u some help / advice.

11-16-2005, 01:13 PM
My new update to my cms enabling discussion and interaction is doing surprisingly well with little promotion. Over 300 posts a day.

11-16-2005, 05:57 PM
This month the site is average a little over 5,000 visitors a day. I did put links on every page to some "hot/controversial" threads. Right now, registration is not required, but I will probably turn it on within a week. E-mail verification is not required. I added both a "please register" message and a registration box on the front page of the forum. I'm still trying to figure out how to get this to show up on every page with PHPBB. Also, I have no Adsense ads on the forum right now.

If you want something to appear on every page edit overall_header.tpl, it's located in your forum/templates/yourstyle/. Put whatever message you want at the bottom of the page and it will appear underneath the header


11-16-2005, 06:11 PM
Id just switch to vb now... its totally worth it.

11-16-2005, 09:26 PM
Are there any specific sticking points that make it better than phpbb? I know that vbulletin run considerably better as a large board. Considering my long term goals, now probably is a better time to switch.

11-16-2005, 11:01 PM
As far as I've heard there's no reason to stay with phpBB, and it's inferior to vBulletin in every way *shrugs*.

It's also better programmed and not open-source, so you know it's higher quality overall.

11-17-2005, 06:47 AM
Well, its much simpler to add code that appears on every page.

vb has a very robust template system all editable from the admin control panel.

11-17-2005, 08:57 AM
It's also better programmed and not open-source, so you know it's higher quality overall.

Really? :) I always thought the VB code was supposed to be a muddled mess. I've not used it myself though.

I'm tempted by IPB. I've always found it nicer to use. Not sure how the admin side of things compares though.

11-17-2005, 09:23 AM
I find VB's code to be good. Well documented within the code, and with their templating system you rarely have to touch the code itself.

Most hacks are also very easy to install.

11-17-2005, 09:31 AM
Another cool thing about vB is that with the newest version (3.5 I think ??) they are implementing a plug-in system so that when people do add-ons or hacks for vB they can simply use the "hooks" that vB has built in instead of modifying the vB code.

This means that when you install a hack that uses this new system you can easily upgrade to future versions of vB without breaking the hack.

11-17-2005, 09:42 AM
Sounds good. I'm going to buy it later today.

11-17-2005, 11:26 AM
Notice the link in the footer... ;)

11-17-2005, 04:16 PM
Yeah, I actually clicked it earlier. Well, time to whip out the AMEX :cool:

11-17-2005, 05:28 PM
In the setup, it asks for the "MASTER DATABASE USERNAME & PASSWORD" I'm getting the idea that this means MySQL as a whole, rather than an individual database I set up through cpanel?

11-17-2005, 06:25 PM
no, just your forum database

11-17-2005, 06:25 PM
when you're all up and running give us your impressions... especially of the admin panel. I'm sure it can be overwhelming at first though.

11-17-2005, 07:00 PM
Getting things installed is the hard part for me, I tend to figure out user interfaces a lot easier :D

11-17-2005, 07:35 PM
Finally working. Very impressive! This makes phpBB look like a toy.

11-17-2005, 08:29 PM
That's because it is ;)

I've really got to get a successful forum running so I can get me vB for keeps instead of just looking around behind the scenes on other peoples' sites.

11-17-2005, 09:19 PM
How do you get user name and info on the left side instead of the top? Is there a page I can go to, to find common modifactions like that?

11-17-2005, 09:53 PM
Nevermind, got that figured out Looks like I've just got to do a lot of digging and vbulletin.com forum searches ;)

11-18-2005, 06:50 AM
also try vbulletin.org (thats the official hack site). Or post here, chances are one of us has done it before.