How do you manage your community? Whats your strategy?

Max Fridman

Well-known member
Hello;

Im here to ask to forum managers how they plan the life of their communities. For example you create content proactively with your moderation team? you create a podcast or a live show? you have run in the past or you are actually running commercial campaigns for find new users?

How you monetize them other than Google Ads? And Amazon affiliate programs?

What strategy bringed you the most ROI possibile?
  • Facebook Groups for feeding content?
  • Twitter hashtag creation?
  • Live Streaming on YouTube or Twitch?

My experience and my strategy:

I have a community running since 2007 (with the same name since 2010, this October we will have our 10th anniversary). In Italy at least the competition is not as bad for English speaking countries (they fight with Reddit). But we face with the same challenges others do, low contribution from users, lots of thin content etc.

What we are doing is building an editorial strategy to create content as a blog or a traditional site will do. We ranked our 250.000 popular threads found the trends and opened forums, writing guides and so on. We launched a podcast and a newsletter and working on making our curated content more relevant in our forum to improve discoverability. We launched a free course the Hacklog.
 
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Max Fridman

Well-known member
How has this worked for you?

Good enough, we improved our stats from 2019 as active users / user registrations / thread made monthly / post made monthly.

We are working addressing a few areas for example:
  • Creating a more engaging forum with extended Profiles stats for our users / recurring challenges etc.
  • Optimizing the overall SEO of our forum and found ways to improve the SEO of content generated by our users by default.
  • Ramping up and generate more content from our moderators team.
  • Establishing our forum as "valuable" platform for our users.
As @sbj said in this thread: Why do forums fail?

The problem with all newcomers are the same. They don't understand in what world we live in. I give the same example all the time. In 2005, you could open a forum about a topic and it would grow on its own. All you needed to do is to host a forum with an okay domain. That was it. People would come on their own and populate it without you needing to do anything.
In the last decade it changed dramatically. It is not enough to host a forum. YOU have to provide the content.

I feel sorry for all the people who spend hours and dollars without getting anywhere. Because they focus on the wrong things. Customizations, designs, styles are wasted times and money. If you don't have an established forum, those stuff are just useless and they drain you out. Because the time and money you invested in that, could have been invested elsewhere.

It takes a lot of time to grow a forum. It is not enough to host a forum. One needs a plan. A plan about what? About content. 99% don't have a strategy how they will put content in their own forum. This is the question they need to ask themselves: "Why should someone visit your website?". An answer of "because you can discuss x" is by far not enough and will fail. You need specific answers. You need something to lure them in. Something they can't find elsewhere. Discussions happen everywhere on the internet. Having another platform is just a grain of sand in the desert.

The discussions on your forum must be a by-product of your content. It means you must have a content on your platform to talk about. The discussions shouldn't be the product itself. And I see most of them having no clue about how to get content. They think having a forum node called "games" or "movies" will be enough and people will suddenly talk about gaming and movies. No, they won't. Because that they can do elsewhere. What can you provide?

Another problem is Google. You need content in first place so your site is found when someone searches for something. You need to put the content first and after a year or two, then you will get seen and people will come for the content.

The overall forum activity improved dramatically when we invested more time (we = whole staff) to create content, reply etc. Basically you need a efficient Team and an active one. You can't carry everything on your back expecting results from night and day.

And you need to monitor everything happening from analytics, to adsense, to direct ad selling, to users feedback and social activity.

Create "value" as a text only platform isnt simple if you dont have a niche and even if you had that you need to be different from every player in your market. Xenforo is not limited, but most of the time you need custom development in many areas to improve content discoverability / user engagement etc. :)
 

Faust

Well-known member
Good enough, we improved our stats from 2019 as active users / user registrations / thread made monthly / post made monthly.

We are working addressing a few areas for example:
  • Creating a more engaging forum with extended Profiles stats for our users / recurring challenges etc.
  • Optimizing the overall SEO of our forum and found ways to improve the SEO of content generated by our users by default.
  • Ramping up and generate more content from our moderators team.
  • Establishing our forum as "valuable" platform for our users.
As @sbj said in this thread: Why do forums fail?



The overall forum activity improved dramatically when we invested more time (we = whole staff) to create content, reply etc. Basically you need a efficient Team and an active one. You can't carry everything on your back expecting results from night and day.

And you need to monitor everything happening from analytics, to adsense, to direct ad selling, to users feedback and social activity.

Create "value" as a text only platform isnt simple if you dont have a niche and even if you had that you need to be different from every player in your market. Xenforo is not limited, but most of the time you need custom development in many areas to improve content discoverability / user engagement etc. :)
That's well said. I found your topic very useful and definitely can use something to improve my forum.

Also in my opinion you need a style and design which will represent your niche.
 

Max Fridman

Well-known member
That's well said. I found your topic very useful and definitely can use something to improve my forum.

Also in my opinion you need a style and design which will represent your niche.

People often invest so much time in themes, style, design etc. i saw forums with 6 themes and more. People often need a frictionless design as possible. Is difficult enough already have people create content for you don't make things for them "harder" so: less is more.

cdn-if2010-png.46441
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r3VzgBJ.png

2016​
ifforumhome-png.227436

2017/2018/2019​
inforge2021.png
2020/2021/202*​

The most requested features are:
  • Black Theme (you need it develop a white and a black one that's it)
  • Clean forum home / threads / forum posts
We ditched the sidebar, is only a clutter "accumulator" most of the time, we will maybe find a way in the future to re-incorporate it with useful information as Facebook and Twitter do, but for now id like to have a "Monolithic" design with everything on a single coloumn using widgets between nodes to improve the user experience and provide more content discoverability (we are working on it).
 

BassMan

Well-known member
I like your strategy and wish you all the best with your community.

I have a similar point of view for my communities. If you are alone as the staff it might be hard, but to have staff that is not "good enough" is even harder. On one of my forums, we are a great team. As you've already said, replying to user posts, helping them our, that's why we are there for.

A forum is for a long run, so one year or two is still not enough, imo. You need to watch for content and users engagement, provide them useful information and a pleasant environment. I don't like to fill the forum with too many add-ons that don't add any benefit. For instance, I like the Chat module, but for my forum it is useless. Also, I like to keep the information as posts in a thread, not in a chat room.

Good content and unclutter your site with things that really aren't useful for users. Sometimes you as an admin think that some add-on will save everything, but then you realize, that is not the case. Just good content provided also by the staff.
 

Max Fridman

Well-known member
I like your strategy and wish you all the best with your community.

I have a similar point of view for my communities. If you are alone as the staff it might be hard, but to have staff that is not "good enough" is even harder. On one of my forums, we are a great team. As you've already said, replying to user posts, helping them our, that's why we are there for.

A forum is for a long run, so one year or two is still not enough, imo. You need to watch for content and users engagement, provide them useful information and a pleasant environment. I don't like to fill the forum with too many add-ons that don't add any benefit. For instance, I like the Chat module, but for my forum it is useless. Also, I like to keep the information as posts in a thread, not in a chat room.

Good content and unclutter your site with things that really aren't useful for users. Sometimes you as an admin think that some add-on will save everything, but then you realize, that is not the case. Just good content provided also by the staff.

Thanks, other things i can add:
  • Use the base Xenforo as much as possible and use only addons that you can't use for the value they provide (for example Siropu Ads Manager or AMPXF).
  • Develop your custom addons only if your users really need them.
  • If you like to experiment do annual cleanups from old addons and functions that users doesnt use enough to justify them.
For social media management i can add:
  • Use only the social media that your audience use and use them and only if you can keep up and produce quality content for them.
Most of the time i see forums all over the place, we are on every social almost but in the last year or so i refocus our effort mainly on four social:
  • Twitch for Live Content
  • YouTube for Video Content
  • Instagram for Images
  • Telegram for chatting / news channel
Twitch and YouTube go toe to toe, you produce a lot of content on Twitch that you can reuse on YouTube. Instagram is really easy to manage and most of the time you can create images / surveys / quizzes etc so your social profiles are interactive enough. We scrapped Facebook and Twitter for now, aside from Discord. You need too much effort to manage and those platform are hostile to bring people out of them.

We can't afford to waste time on those, time is your best resource so don't waste it.
 

Faust

Well-known member
People often invest so much time in themes, style, design etc. i saw forums with 6 themes and more. People often need a frictionless design as possible. Is difficult enough already have people create content for you don't make things for them "harder" so: less is more.

cdn-if2010-png.46441
cdn-if2011-png.46443
cdn-if2012-png.46446
cdn-if2013-png.46444
cdn-if2014-png.46445
cdn-if2015-png.46447
r3VzgBJ.png

2016​
ifforumhome-png.227436

2017/2018/2019​
View attachment 246119
2020/2021/202*​

The most requested features are:
  • Black Theme (you need it develop a white and a black one that's it)
  • Clean forum home / threads / forum posts
We ditched the sidebar, is only a clutter "accumulator" most of the time, we will maybe find a way in the future to re-incorporate it with useful information as Facebook and Twitter do, but for now id like to have a "Monolithic" design with everything on a single coloumn using widgets between nodes to improve the user experience and provide more content discoverability (we are working on it).

To be honest because of my forum niche I already have over 110 addons installed on my forum, sadly.

I do use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook Page. I do use Homepage and forums as well. Homepage usually shows the best content.
 

tajhay

Well-known member
All new/recent forum owners should read this thread. Content is and always will be the king. Always do something that other forums in the space cant, in the content space. Nicer looking graphics/theme isn't going to cut it. 50 forums with little/no threads in them aren't going to help.
 

Faust

Well-known member
All new/recent forum owners should read this thread. Content is and always will be the king. Always do something that other forums in the space cant, in the content space. Nicer looking graphics/theme isn't going to cut it. 50 forums with little/no threads in them aren't going to help.
I do agree with you, but having good design and good content, I think that's a combo
 

Max Fridman

Well-known member
but having good design and good content

Design is different from identity.

You need a good identity to stand out, design must be functional to your users and search algorithms. The identity should be constituted by:
To build an identity you need to build your reputation, reputation grows with time. Without your USP you can't go on for much time.
 

Faust

Well-known member
Design is different from identity.

You need a good identity to stand out, design must be functional to your users and search algorithms. The identity should be constituted by:
To build an identity you need to build your reputation, reputation grows with time. Without your USP you can't go on for much time.
I do agree with you. But as mentioned before, depending on your site niche
 

sbj

Well-known member
Sorry but I disagree. 99% the design is just waste of time. I see a lot of people showcasing their forums and saying "I did this, how does it look, or I updated that" and to be honest, nobody cares. You guys waste your time with designs. I am not even saying you shouldn't get a theme or something. Just stick to the default of the purchased themes or the default XF theme with color changes. Only when you established your forum, you could invest time into having a unique experience. But the more your community grows, the more you will realise that custom made design elements will come in the way with a lot of addons. I couldn't care less about the themes of forums when I enter a search in Google. The only question is, does your site come up when I enter my search term? If not, nobody ever will see your diamond ultra blinking custom designed theme.
GET A PLAN ABOUT HOW TO GET CONTENT TO YOUR FORUM.
 

Faust

Well-known member
Sorry but I disagree. 99% the design is just waste of time. I see a lot of people showcasing their forums and saying "I did this, how does it look, or I updated that" and to be honest, nobody cares. You guys waste your time with designs. I am not even saying you shouldn't get a theme or something. Just stick to the default of the purchased themes or the default XF theme with color changes. Only when you established your forum, you could invest time into having a unique experience. But the more your community grows, the more you will realise that custom made design elements will come in the way with a lot of addons. I could care less about the themes of forums when I enter a search in Google. The only question is, does your site come up when I enter my search term? If not, nobody ever will see your diamond ultra blinking custom designed theme.
GET A PLAN ABOUT HOW TO GET CONTENT TO YOUR FORUM.

I do agree with you. Yes I did work a lot to achieve what I have now, and got TH theme, but that's how I was thinking, to achieve something unique. While Xf default theme is great, I still opted for something unique.
 

Hotfix

Active member
Have you guys tried to grow new forums, or am I listening to "old farts" talking about how they got hired just by showing up?
 

sbj

Well-known member
Obviously established forums which are a decade old don't have much to say here. They already got it working somehow.
I speak from experience as a new forum owner (mine is 2 1/2 years old). It is very hard to grow new forums and to this day I struggle a lot with activity. But that has to do with my niche and content. This year I am gonna tackle the activity problem by introducing a Wikipedia system. So more content put by me and my team. My current content are attachments and database-like systems, so people come for downloading free stuff they can't find elsewhere and being able to find stuff through filters. So not much to engange with right now. But I know I am doing something right because many profs and established musicians use my site and many students write their master thesis etc. by citing us. About to reach 3k members soon. Considering that my target audience is like maybe 50k, 3k is a big number compared to a gaming niche with a potential 3 billion people. But that niche is more competitive of course.

1613059602083.png
 

Faust

Well-known member
Obviously established forums which are a decade old don't have much to say here. They already got it working somehow.
I speak from experience as a new forum owner (mine is 2 1/2 years old). It is very hard to grow new forums and to this day I struggle a lot with activity. But that has to do with my niche and content. This year I am gonna tackle the activity problem by introducing a Wikipedia system. So more content put by me and my team. My current content are attachments and database-like systems, so people come for downloading free stuff they can't find elsewhere and being able to find stuff through filters. So not much to engange with right now. But I know I am doing something right because many profs and established musicians use my site and many students write their master thesis etc. by citing us. About to reach 3k members soon. Considering that my target audience is like maybe 50k, 3k is a big number compared to a gaming niche with a potential 3 billion people. But that niche is more competitive of course.

View attachment 246129
Quick question, what wiki page addon are you planning to use ? as I’m looking for one too, checked TH which is promising
 

sbj

Well-known member
Quick question, what wiki page addon are you planning to use ? as I’m looking for one too, checked TH which is promising
I am a huge believer of "threads". 99% of people use threads for content. Having separate installations of things outside of threads are not used much. See XFMG, see XFRM, see profile posts, etc. As long as there is no other way, stick to threads. That is where everything is happening at. And most addons natively work with threads. You don't need custom addons build just so they work also on other places.
On top of that, I don't like the support TH or Jaxel provides, so that is also a big no-no for me. Hence why I am going with @JulianD's addon WikiPost. But there are some other stuff you need for a full experience, such as the awesome Keyword addon of Siropu. And then some other stuff because of my unique setup as I am also using Bob's Showcase addon (where all items have their own threads). So a lot of combination of addons are needed + custom thread fields are really important. So my setup is ready to pump out content, just waiting for a last addon as I am still on XF2.1
 

Faust

Well-known member
I am a huge believer of "threads". 99% of people use threads for content. Having separate installations of things outside of threads are not used much. See XFMG, see XFRM, see profile posts, etc. As long as there is no other way, stick to threads. That is where everything is happening at. And most addons natively work with threads. You don't need custom addons build just so they work also on other places.
On top of that, I don't like the support TH or Jaxel provides, so that is also a big no-no for me. Hence why I am going with @JulianD's addon WikiPost. But there are some other stuff you need for a full experience, such as the awesome Keyword addon of Siropu. And then some other stuff because of my unique setup as I am also using Bob's Showcase addon (where all items have their own threads). So a lot of combination of addons are needed + custom thread fields are really important. So my setup is ready to pump out content, just waiting for a last addon as I am still on XF2.1
yes I do use Showcase addon by Bob too, which is great one. I don’t know about support with Th, on my side they cool, sometime they do offer bad support, but generally I’m happy with their support and products. I will check wiki post to See what it’s offer.
 

Max Fridman

Well-known member
Have you guys tried to grow new forums, or am I listening to "old farts" talking about how they got hired just by showing up?

Branching out old forums to new audiences is basically growing a new forum almost and even simply "existing" is a challenge nowadays, by the way the "old farts" have a bit of experience gained through many errors and difficulties, no one is trying to show off but to help and discuss maybe with people with new opinions strategies etc. :)
 
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