How did you attract your initial audience to your forum?

MatthewC

Member
I think many of us have been in the situation where we found a topic area that we are passionate about, created a well thought out forum structure to accommodate it, released the forum, and then realized we need to put in effort to market our forum, so to speak, to get the ball rolling and to get that initial user base.

As I have recently set up a few new forums, I would love to hear about this part of the journey from other people further down the path. For those of you who did not start with an audience to leverage, how did you get your first 100 forum users?
 

cwe

Active member
You will need to create about 50 of the first 100 forum members yourself. Beautiful, beautiful socks of many colors and odors and opinions. They should play footsies. Always so interesting.

Or, you could recruit folks IRL at local events or whatever as appropriate.

Or you can try mentioning your site on social media, but it will likely be seen as spam marketing.

Or you can invest in advertising wherever you think your target market is likely to see it.

Respect to folks who create a big board in this day and age. It's not as easy as it used to be.
 

Mendalla

Well-known member
Kind of curious about this myself. I had a built-in base to start with since we were the replacement for a forum that was being closed down. But we are hemorrhaging users due to aging so I might need to do some rebuilding.

I just put up a site with good content
Content is something we are starting to work on. I do see surges in visits in my Google Analytics when new content goes up but it is not generating registrations so far.
 

PatriotGB

Active member
It's a multi-pronged approach, I think. Ultimately, you've got to "put the word out." Some ways I can think of:

1. Recruit people from other sources (forums, Facebook groups, etc.). Don't be obnoxious about it by spamming another board. But, there are subtle and discrete ways to do it. You might private message some of the folks you are closer to on the other forums. If you're active on other similar or tangentially related forums, you might put a link to your new forum in your signature on the other forums. Many allow such links in your signature.

2. Optimize the SEO of your forum so it shows up in Google searches for the topic.

3. Content, content, content. Prime that pump by publishing some good (and maybe provocative) content on your forum. Make it interesting. That helps with the SEO. It helps with KEEPING people on your site. And, it helps compel those visitors to SHARE (links) to your forum content.
 

PatriotGB

Active member
I had a built-in base to start with since we were the replacement for a forum that was being closed down.

Same here.. We weren't a replacement, though. Might call it a "spin-off." In fact there were at least 3 spin-offs. But mine has run away with the lead. I started with a good core group of maybe a couple dozen prolific posters from the defunct forum. My forum is now 7 months old, and we're at 985 members as of this moment. Almost the 1k mark!
 

Aerodynamic

Active member
You need leads. You need to keep advertising around websites, forums, post links, signature advertising, buy advertising if you can, etc. It takes a lot of work, some money would speed up the process, but determination and patience will get you there. A contest/giveaway is a very good idea when you have a good member base.

Social media is also a good way of advertising, but only paid advertisements get decent results. My advice, don't expect too much, it takes months and even longer to build up a decent member base.

Google forums with similar interests, advertise, advertise, advertise. ;)
 

Tracy Perry

Well-known member
The problem that exists is that almost every "popular" topical area already has anywhere from 2-10 existing big name sites already in that field that you will be competing against.
I'm not a fan of creating "fake members" as eventually you have to quit using those accounts and any "real" members that have been discoursing with them will think they are being ghosted.
One of the ways I'm working on is I had some shirts and sweatshirts created with my site logo on the front and the logo & URL on the back. I'll be wearing them to several of the local star parties and hope that it will help get the word out. I'll probably print some brochures up also and have them with me and ask if it's OK if I set them out on a table at the gatherings.
 

Aerodynamic

Active member
The problem that exists is that almost every "popular" topical area already has anywhere from 2-10 existing big name sites already in that field that you will be competing against.
I'm not a fan of creating "fake members" as eventually you have to quit using those accounts and any "real" members that have been discoursing with them will think they are being ghosted.
One of the ways I'm working on is I had some shirts and sweatshirts created with my site logo on the front and the logo & URL on the back. I'll be wearing them to several of the local star parties and hope that it will help get the word out. I'll probably print some brochures up also and have them with me and ask if it's OK if I set them out on a table at the gatherings.
It's even harder for you considering you have a rare niche.
 

Tracy Perry

Well-known member
It's even harder for you considering you have a rare niche.
Yep... that's why you have to go where the interested crowd is. Another thing I'm working on with a local attorney that is into the same field is getting with some of the local schools and starting up some astronomy clubs and hope they will use the site as a resource also. It's one of the reasons that I'm hoping that 2.3 will have social groups with calendars and I won't be dependent on a 3rd party add-on.

If we have much luck, we may start up a 501(c)(3) and get donations to buy some lower end equipment to use at star parties for them.
 
Top