Are forum post exchanges beneficial?

by Martin Reed on 6 July 2007 in Articles

I have seen many administrators talk about forum post exchanges, so thought I would write an article discussing the advantages and disadvantages of using this approach to generate activity and content for your community.

What are forum post exchanges?

Forum post exchangesThe basic premise of a forum post exchange is as follows: you post on someone’s forum and in return they post on yours.

For every post that you make on a participant’s forum, they will make the same number on yours. Therefore, the more active you are in their community, the more active they will be on yours.

Forum post exchanges are two way streets – you give in one direction, and receive in the other.

The advantages of forum post exchanges

Advantages of forum post exchangeThere are many advantages to getting involved in forum post exchanges. You may find new communities of interest and you will increase the number of members and posts in your forum.

Perhaps most importantly of all, you will be networking and getting to know other forum administrators.

Additionally, as long as you keep posting in the forums of participants, you will be assured new members and posts over at your own community.

The disadvantages of forum post exchanges

Disadvantages of forum post exchangesCreating content and writing forum posts takes time. Why use this time adding value to someone else’s forum when you can be adding content to your own community?

There is no guarantee of quality when you are involved in forum post exchanges – you may be adding real value to a participant’s forum, but in return get single word or single line posts that do not improve your online community.

A forum post exchange will only generate content and members for as long as you keep posting in the forums of new and current participants. As soon as you stop, it is almost certain that those involved in the exchange will do the same.

My opinion of forum post exchanges

For the reasons I give above, I do not get involved in forum post exchanges. I do not see the point in spending time adding value to someone else’s online community to the detriment of your own.

There is no guarantee as to the quality of the content that participants will add to your site. Similarly, all the new content will end as soon as you cease your participation.

My advice? Steer clear of forum post exchanges. Spend the time instead creating fantastic and unique content for your own community – this will attract genuine, valuable members.

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{ 14 comments }

Vijay Teach Me July 6, 2007 at 3:30 pm

Whether it is a blog or forum content(Quality) is the king

Vijay

Smiley July 6, 2007 at 4:24 pm

I agree, Martin. If I’m honest, I’ve never heard of forum post exchanges before, but they certainly don’t sound appealing.

I want people to post on my boards because they like them, not because they ‘have to’ because of an ‘agreement’.

You said it in another article yourself; quality over quantity!

I’d rather have 50 posts that are discussing something interesting, rather than 500 posts of “LOL”, “yeh me 2 m8″ and “:)”

Marti July 6, 2007 at 6:26 pm

I guess it depends on who you are exchanging posts with. There’s still no better way to get new users in a forum than a lot of existing threads and comments (not all written by the same guy).

Blogging July 6, 2007 at 10:35 pm

I agree, the time spent doing post exchanges can definitely be better used doing something else on your website. You can write interesting articles (as topics)instead, which will add to your quality content and if they are good enough they will encourage others to post, so you will get posts and good content.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 7, 2007 at 3:21 am

Vijay – Content is definitely king, and the best person to create content to the standard you want is very often yourself!

Smiley – I agree. As soon as users feel an obligation to post or are given incentives to do so, you will often see a reduction in quality. I choose quality over quantity every time.

Marti – I would agree that the success of a forum post exchange would depend on who you are exchanging posts with. In my opinion though, time would be better spent creating content for your own site.

There is nothing to stop you from using different user names to create the illusion of more members – it isn’t all that different from utilising forum post exchanges as those people posting on your site are not real members; they are in it for personal gain (ie to keep the post exchange going).

Blogging – I am in complete agreement; the more time you spend on your own site, the more quality content you can publish for the benefit of your own community.

Mark@CreditCards July 8, 2007 at 3:29 am

I have to say that I agree with you. I think that is too much valuable time to spend on other people’s forums. They should pay you and then get someone else to write on their post for and pay them a little less. That is my thought.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 8, 2007 at 6:38 am

Mark – Thanks for your comment. I am glad to see you agree with my view on this area of forum promotion, although the jury is still out regarding my opinions of paid forum posting.

Smiley July 8, 2007 at 3:19 pm

I don’t agree with paid forum posting either. What is guaranteeing the quality of these posts? And users aren’t stupid, they can tell when there’s real passion behind a post or not. It rubs off on the rest of the community.

I mean, you might aswell just make a secret username and post yourself about subjects close to your own heart.

That way, other users get the impression it’s a completely different person, AND, the post still has REAL genuine passion and thoughts behind it.

No amount of money can buy that ;)

Russ July 9, 2007 at 7:40 am

The only way to seperate your forum from millions of others is with quality, unique content. Don’t give that away to your competitors. Keep it to help your own cause. Having one active user is much more important than having 10 who just came to exchange posts.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 11, 2007 at 7:09 am

Smiley – I completely agree; users can easily tell if there is no passion behind a post or article and poor quality content really can rub off on the rest of the community.

Nothing beats genuine passion and commitment – it’s one of the necessary requirements for a successful community.

Russ – I agree with your comment, too. You should concentrate all your efforts on creating fantastic content for your own website. People should stop wasting their time getting involved in forum post exchanges and instead create content, content and more content for their own community!

Jude July 29, 2007 at 8:22 pm

To a great extent, I agree with your opinion. I have been trying to get post exchanges going, and for the most part my posts are better quality than the ones I’m receiving! It is quite frustrating when you feel the need to delete some of the posts received and quite daunting to have to keep track of all the forums you’ve registered with to keep up the exchanges. Though I’m still trying it, I might be giving up soon!

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 30, 2007 at 3:41 pm

Jude – Thanks for your comment. Your experience is a prime example of one of the reasons why I think forum post exchanges are a waste of time. Instead of spending time writing quality content for another site, write for your own!

Alvina March 18, 2008 at 6:08 am

I don’t get involved in forum post exchanging either. I do post on another forum other than my own which I like but I usually copy some of my threads from my forum there which I find worthy of discussion and which fit into the other forum’s scope. Some members who are registered at both forums do the same, they post the same thread on both forums but there is no arrangement or obligation to do so.

Martin Reed - Blog Author March 19, 2008 at 7:30 pm

Alvina – I would be careful about posting too much duplicate content; after all, you want your site’s content to be unique in order to attract and retain members.