I mentioned in an earlier post the importance of taking the time and effort to create content on a new forum yourself. If visitors arrive to see an empty forum, they will not feel inclined to join. Therefore it is down to you to stimulate interaction and encourage visitors to become members and stick around.
A common mistake I do see from time to time is when a forum administrator takes this advice a little too strongly to heart. All new forums need as much time and dedication as the owner can provide however when a forum starts to become established excessive posting can actually damage the community.
When I first took over Soap Forum, the community was pretty much dead. The only person posting was a volunteer moderator. People who came to the site would perhaps read these posts, find no other content and move on.
As well as promoting the site, I took the time to undertake a full redesign, added more content and emailed all current members to encourage them to return. A few did just that, however it was important to keep this momentum going. Consequently I ensured I made at least five new threads each and every day.
The forum has now reached the stage where a good group of new and existing members are regularly visiting and posting. As a result, I have reduced the number of new threads I have been making.
The reason for this is simple – I want to encourage the site’s members to start new threads and converse amongst themselves. If people arrive every day and see content made only by me, they will be less inclined to generate new threads themselves.
I still ensure I visit the forum on a regular basis, and still post frequently however I certainly do not post five new threads per day any longer. Instead I now post new threads every two or three days. This encourages the members to interact without my guidance – which is very important if the community is to succeed.
A forum where the only person talking is the forum owner is not a real forum – it is more of a blog! It is essential when starting a new forum that you take the lead and generate the content, however be careful not to hold the hand of your forum for too long.
When your forum seems to have a nice group of members, give the community a chance to develop on its own for a couple of days. If things die down when you stop posting then you know your forum is not ready to ‘go it alone’; in this case simply start posting again.
As your forum grows and develops you can slowly take more of a back seat and allow your members to generate the majority of your content. After all, this is the foundation for a successful online community.