front page
daily news
news archive
ask the editor

free scripts
meta tags
search engines

about us
press room

All Content in
Webmaster Techniques
Magazine is
©Copyright 2005.
All Rights Reserved

Increasing Forum Participation
by Joe Tracy

How many times have you come across a forum in which the most recent post was 2-3 months old? It happens often on the Web because many Webmasters open forums too soon or don't understand the methods needed to properly promote forum participation. The right mix of techniques can make a world of difference in turning one post a year into 40 posts a day. Here are some techniques to increase participation in your forum:

1) Entice people with front-page quotes. When I opened my first forum in the 1990's, one of the things I had to deal with was getting people to participate. Since the home page of the Website I was running was receiving the most traffic, I set up a forum quote of the day that appeared prominently on the front page. Every day I featured a different forum post, most which were controversial or inquisitive in nature to entice others to add their opinions. By far, this marketing method brought the best results.

2) Establish contests. When I first opened my forum, I offered free t-shirts to the first five people to reach 50 legitimate posts. It proved to be a great competition. Later I started giving away a free t-shirt every month in a random drawing among those who regularly post. Of course the t-shirts were branded with my Website logo and URL.

3) Use your ezine for promotion. If you have an email newsletter (ezine), use it to promote your forum. For example, when I held the contest to give the first five people to reach 50 posts a free t-shirt, I kept a running tally of who was closest to the goal and published it, along with the monthly contest winners, in my newsletter.

4) Start small then grow. Keep your forum categories small (i.e. 2-3 categories) when first starting a forum. That way all the posts are concentrated in a small area, making it look like you have a lot of participants. As your forum grows, you can expand the categories. This is vital. Your forum will look bare if you have 8 categories with only a scattering of posts. Start with only 2-3 categories.

5) Don't force people to register. Some people don't like to register in order to post. Therefore consider eliminating registration (if this is feasible for your forum) or create a couple of "open categories."

6) Link from articles. If you have regular news or articles on your site, add a feedback button (which says "What do you think?") that links to your forum so that people can post their opinion.

7) Be active! By being active in your own forum, you are helping to promote the discussions. People will also respect that you are involved in your own community.

8) Recruit moderators. Recruit some charismatic friends or visitors to become moderators. They will help keep the discussions lively and flowing.

9) Make banners for your site. Make some banners that promote your forum then spread those banners throughout your Website.

10) Submit to Search Engines. Be sure to submit each of your active topics to the Search Engines (add Meta Tag headers for maximum results on select Search Engines).

The above ideas are only effective for those who visit your Website. Therefore it is important to market your entire Website in order to increase traffic so that many new people will have the opportunity to participate in your forums. Learn to market your entire site with focused ebooks like "55 Vital Web Marketing Strategies for Marketing Your Website."

Need a forum? The most popular forum that you can license is vBulletin.. Perhaps you are looking for something of high quality, but a little cheaper - like free. No problem. Check out phpbb.


Joe Tracy is editor of Webmaster Techniques Magazine and author of "55 Vital Web Marketing Strategies for Marketing Your Website."

» Return to Articles Page
» Return to Webmaster Techniques Magazine Front Page