Discussion Forums: Worth it?

April 4, 2007 at 3:01 pm Leave a comment

Implementing a discussion forum in you content based website is ironically a hot discussion. Monetizing a forum is not an easy task, and more than a banner or two on the header will really piss off your users. But even though discussion forums won´t bring lots of money by itselves, they will indirectly drive traffic.

Karl Marx said “Religion is the Opium of the people”, I say “Discussion Forums are the Opium of the 21st Century People”. Forums are highly addictive, and they are a great fidelization program. If people start using your forums there is a high rate they will visit it on a daily basis. If someone visiting your website is good someone visiting it everyday is terrific. Eventually they will check out the rest of your content.

Forums create community, community creates content. Human beings, have a need of being part of something , a religion, a football team, a golf club, etc. To be part of it, they will want to create new quality threads and make smart comments, to impress their pairs.This way even if your editors stay offline for a week, your readers will come back to check the latest messages in the forum.

Forums are also a great way to find talent. In here you get to know your readers and you can find a couple of them who can be part of your staff. On the other hand you get feedback, which let´s you know what you are doing good and what you have to improve.

For direct sales, forums are just great. Your clients don´t really care if your readers don´t visit your home page, they just care about your global traffic. A forum adds a lot of hits and uniques to your traffic without lying.
As you can see discussion forums have several points in favor although they have several cons too. Here are some:

1.- Forum engines can use a lot of your server resources when they have a high traffic. Keep this in mind.

2.- Forums need moderation. You need people to moderate users and be kind with them at the same time. Finding good moderators is not an easy task. Stick to people who have done this job before.

3.- Forums give users a chance of organizing and eventually making a riot. This is just like SimCity, keep your people happy or you will have a massive leaving.

4.- Growing is not an easy task. I´ll give you some tips to pump up your registered users in the next weeks.

I´ve moderated forums for over six years and nowadays I co-own one with 17k + registered users. You will find several tips on discussion forums on the internet, but you have to be careful, most of this tips come from people who have never built a forum, or they haven´t achieved a high registration rate. If their tips haven´t helped themselves, why would they help you?

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Entry filed under: Dot Com Biz.

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