Fight like a champion for your forum members

by Martin Reed on 31 October 2007 in Articles

Fight for your community and its members

It costs businesses far more to attract a new customer than it does to retain a current one. Of course, this makes perfect sense – once you have a customer, you simply need to keep them happy and meet their needs in order to retain them. Without a customer, you have no sales and have to spend money to attract them.

The same concept applies for online communities – it is important for you to keep your existing members; they are your foundation. Without your existing members, your community cannot hope to develop and flourish.

Always ensure you keep your members happy

Your main priority when developing an online community is to keep your members happy. Nothing else is of higher importance. Remember that a community without people is not a community – if you are attracting members but they are not contributing, you will get nowhere.

Happy community members will contribute. If there is a lack of activity in your forum, then something is wrong. Happy members will be your forum’s best promotional tool – sure, you can pay for advertising campaigns and establish link exchanges, but if a visitor arrives at your site to see a dead community, they will not register. Similarly, if they find a community full of complaints and negativity they are unlikely to stick around.

Happy members will recommend your site to their friends. A recommendation from a friend is the most effective referral there is – after all, we trust our friends, right? Once you have happy members, you will have a happy community which will succeed if you continue to invest the necessary effort.

Fight to keep your members

There will be times that you may well have to fight to keep your members. Squabbles between members do occur from time to time, and people will complain every now and again. In this case, it is imperative that you intervene and try to solve the problem.

Bad blood between users can drive other members away. It may take a lot of your time to mediate between arguing parties, but if you can smooth out the issues and keep hold of all the members involved, it will be worth every second.

If a member complains, acknowledge their complaint, and investigate it. When you have finished investigating, get back to them with a full response. Anything less, and that member will think you do not value their presence in your community and may very well leave.

Every member you lose damages your community – you need to keep your members, and you can only do this by fighting to keep them.

Fight to attract new members

Whilst existing members are the foundation of your community, it is important to attract new users to keep your community fresh, dynamic and interesting. Once again, you need to don your (metaphorical!) boxing gloves – draw up a game plan, figure out how you are going to promote your site and attract new members, then execute that plan.

Make your site welcoming to new members, and ensure it is easy for them to register and get involved. Once they join, get yourself ready for ‘Round Two’ and keep on fighting to keep them at your site!

What methods do you employ to ensure members stick around at your website? Share your ideas, experiences and thoughts by leaving a comment below.

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Online furniture store November 1, 2007 at 9:15 am

You made an important point, it should be made easy to register and get involved. Often the whole hassle of logging in, filling out a form or giving details, tends to put people off.

Glenn Alvarez November 2, 2007 at 8:59 am

hi, you are right customers are the main source of business. If they are happy then only you can be happy too.
Thanx for the wonderful piece of advice.

Good Day

Hirsutism November 2, 2007 at 9:02 am

Very nice article. I love the way you explain so well, how one should deal with it’s members. I totally agree with you, it’s very important to keep your members happy, for them to visit your blog often.

Mike November 3, 2007 at 3:03 am

I just started a new forum so I am going to have to do everything and anything to get people to sign up and start posting. I don’t want to pay people to post, but I suppose I will have to do some posts myself to get things moving.

Smiley November 3, 2007 at 2:57 pm

You don’t sound too enthusiastic about making posts yourself, Mike.. Martin has a helpful article for you to read entitled ‘your community should be your passion’ or something along those lines ;)

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 5, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Reena – You’re right. I am a firm believer in ensuring as much of your content as possible is accessible without registering. I covered this in an article entitled ‘Should you allow lurkers to view forum posts?‘.

Glenn – That’s definitely a good way of looking at things. If your customers (members) are happy, then you will be happy, too.

Hirsutism – Thanks for your kind comment, I am glad you enjoyed the article.

What is your real name, by the way?

MikeM – I have taken a quick look at your forum and you have made many mistakes which I have offered advice about on this blog. You still have the default theme, you have too many categories, and you have no content.

You need to think about the reasons why you have set up your forum? If it is for a reason other than a passion for the subject itself, you will struggle to make your community a success.

Smiley – You’re right, if you don’t have the passion or enthusiasm for your community you are in trouble right from the start!

Marty November 16, 2007 at 2:16 pm

Some really great and important information/points here mate, certainly taught me a few new things. Thanks for the fantastic blog, keep up the great work – everything i head read will certainly help me soon :].

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 16, 2007 at 6:53 pm

Marty – Thanks for your kind comment, I am glad you are finding the blog useful. Keep us updated with your plans.

Helen February 10, 2009 at 8:51 am

Hey Martin, just wondered, have you got any of your articles on The Admin Zone? Was a main source of info and advice about online communities before I came across your blog – might be cool to hook up with them?

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 10, 2009 at 5:00 pm

Helen – I don’t believe I have any articles on The Admin Zone. I prefer to keep my content here, although I do network and contribute to community building discussions on other sites. I might even be a member of that site – I can’t remember. I’ll check it out again, though. Thanks for the reminder!

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