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View Full Version : Promoting a forum...?



Michael
03-08-2006, 10:38 AM
Decided to start a topic up here instead of just looking for advice. I have been trying to promote my forum (in my signature) for the last year but with no avail. So therefore I am looking for some advice, maybe I am doing something wrong?

I have tried many promotion methods:

- Paid to post, I paid about 10 people to make 25 posts on my forum. This increased activity for a short period of time. But at the end it was just the hired people talking to each other and very little of them had a keen interest in skiing.

- Google adwords, This got a lot of clicks and I had a 50 campaign there - I only got 3 signups, none of which have visited the forum since. They maybe made 1 or 2 posts.

I am at a stage where I do not know what to do. In trying to get more visitors from the search engines I opened an articles section and had some custom articles written. Only time will tell if this has paid off or not.

I am now considering the possibility of buying a product such as vbSEO, this should enable me to track what topics I am getting search engine traffic from and react accordingly, what do you think?

Maybe I have missed a big factor out? Does anyone see anything wrong with my forum that would discourage you from joining?

N.B - I have already read Chris' article on VB forums, - very informative.

Comments and discussion welcome... :nod:

- Michael

Shyflower
03-08-2006, 11:11 AM
Although Google says you have 24 links to your site, I didn't see any that were specifically skiing related. I would contact some other sites that have articles by ski experts, ski tutorials, and/or ski organizations and ask them to add your site as a resource for skiiers. Many of these sites don't have a forum so they might be amenable to a backlink or reciprocal link. This will help you find some targetted traffic.

You might also write the author of other ski articles and ask if they would be willing to visit your site and contribute to your forums. I found quite a few ski experts that seem to be looking for a place to talk about their expertise. :)

Another option is to do an interview with a ski expert or administrator of a ski organization site. They would probably give you a link to the interview from their site to yours. (In fact, you could make it a condition). This is a great type of reciprocal linking that gives you fresh content and a link to your site.

A press release would also help. I think actually this is a great time of the year for one focused on although many skiers need to hang up their skis there is still somewhere to go and discuss their favorite pastime, find new places to ski, etc.

Michael
03-08-2006, 11:24 AM
Thank you Linda for your feedback, some great suggestions there that I will look into. :D

Cutter
03-08-2006, 12:19 PM
What you need is to drive a lot of targetted traffic to your forum, and custimize it to maximize visitor registration (which I see you've done -- I would also recommend adding an on-page quick registration.) Even then, less than half who register will post, and even fewer will become active users.

There is always the chicken and the egg problem, in order to get people to join you need active members, but it goes beyond this. When you entire site is a forum, you simply don't have enough content to drive serious search engine traffic, so growth is really, really slow. I recommend building other ski sites, including a blog, article site, and e-mail newsletter, and driving the traffic to your forum through that.

Michael
03-08-2006, 12:27 PM
I actually currenty have another ski site, it is a link directory but it has not been promoted much - http://www.beforeyouski.com.

Steelsun
03-08-2006, 02:19 PM
Good info so far.

CreationNation
03-09-2006, 03:42 PM
You might also think about going to other ski/outdoor sporting sites/forums and posting (without trolling / sales pitching) on different threads and topics etc. - and have a forum signature that promotes your forum site.

Sagewing
03-09-2006, 03:51 PM
I'm struggling to help someone get a forum off the ground, too. It's www.gradschoolforum.com - targeted to the [highly competitive] gradschool world. So much of the traffic is based around getting in, admissions, etc. We are hoping to build a community around students that are already IN grad school I've launched a few forums in my day, but this one has really been tough!

We have a custom feature coming together - the 'private study group' feature which is really just a mini-forum that's invite only. Anyone can start one and be the moderator. It woud be used by small groups of students (study groups) as an alternative to using e-mail with everyone cc:'d , which is the norm amongst grad students. Hopefully this feature will help attract users, but we need something to help the forum reach critical mass.

Cutter
03-09-2006, 04:00 PM
make sure you do a daily database backup if you use phpbb

Sagewing
03-09-2006, 04:48 PM
You know, I've been supporting about 10 phpBB forums for a long time now, and I constantly hearing how dangerous, unstable, and insecure they are. However, simply by updating quickly when a new release comes out, I've never had a problem whatsoever!

There is so much anti-phpBBsm! I'm not saying it's the best forum, but certainly it's under-rated imo.

(oh, but yes I take a backup every day) :)

Cutter
03-09-2006, 07:28 PM
I've had one of my phpBBs hacked, and I've only run two of them.

Michael
03-10-2006, 11:28 AM
What do you think about vBSEO, would it be worth the money?

Cutter
03-10-2006, 12:14 PM
Some people say no, the guy that runs DNForum (a very successful forum) says yes. I installed it shortly after buying vBulletin so I have no results to compare it to.

Peter T Davis
03-10-2006, 10:54 PM
What do you think about vBSEO, would it be worth the money?
I tried it and was disappointed. I might give them a try again when the product is mature.

Michael
03-11-2006, 06:55 AM
I think the main benefit is that you can track what threads are getting the most hits etc.. Since most traffic utilities just register the hit as showthread.php :(

cyanide
03-11-2006, 11:48 AM
Starting and growing a forum is tough, no doubt about it.

You have a unique and a niche forum.
Writing articles is a good way to market your forum. The time consuming part will be finding websites that will display them.
Another idea might be a press release. There are penty of websites where you can post them for free.

You will have to find a way to get all these visitors to register once they start arriving. Which is no easy feat as well.

You might consider a contest. Maybe have a couple of the more sought after sections, kept private from guests.

eukhost
03-23-2006, 01:47 AM
Hello,

I think vbSEO will enable you to gain more new members at a very fast speed.

Cutter
03-23-2006, 12:13 PM
May be, may be not I haven't seen hard evidence either way.

Michael
03-23-2006, 01:48 PM
I think i will go ahead and purchase vBSeo, I will let you know of the results..

Michael
05-14-2006, 08:30 AM
VBSEO seems to be performing quite well. The hits from search engines have increased tenfold for some pretty impressive keywords. However none of the users seem to want to register and participate in the discussions! Could it be that my forum categories are done wrong and are not likely to encourage discussion?