Maybe when you first started your online community you weren’t able to dedicate the time needed to get it off the ground. Perhaps you didn’t realise just how much work it takes to create content and attract and retain members. Whatever the reason, your online community is now a little stale.
Don’t despair though, as it’s always possible to kick a dead forum back into life.
Are you ready to commit?
Your online community went stale for a reason. Before you decide to put the effort into getting it up and running again, consider whether you are ready for the effort that will be needed. Sure, your initial enthusiasm may be high right now but how will it be a month down the line when you are putting in hours of work every day only to see a handful of new members as a result?
Think about how your online community got into its current condition, and what will be needed to avoid that happening again. If you are sure you are ready for the challenge, here is what I advise you to do.
Steps for invigorating a stale forum
1) Consider a redesign
A new forum design shows your members that you are making a real investment to get your community fired up. Consider setting up a contest on sites such as SitePoint, or browse the Web for new forum skins.
Consider a new design akin to a re-branding – you’re back, and bigger and better than ever!
2) Create content – and lots of it
Your forum probably died a slow death due to a lack of content. If someone arrives at your site to see no new content, they may forgive you on the first occasion. If things are the same when they next visit, you may not get off so lightly.
Never let this happen again. Create content now – if nobody else is doing it, then the task falls to you. Don’t just write a few new posts – write like the wind. Spend a few days, perhaps even a week populating your forum with fantastic, high quality content. Register under a few different user names if you like; the name of the poster is irrelevant at this stage – it’s the content that counts.
3) Set yourself targets
Set yourself targets for your community’s future development. Write them down. Decide how many new posts you will add each day. Decide on how many new link exchanges you want to establish each week. Set yourself targets for every stage of your forum’s development and stick to them.
4) Email current members
You are now ready to encourage your old members to return. Email your current member database and invite them back. Some of your members may need convincing that this is worth their time and effort – really sell your forum to them and get them excited so they can’t resist clicking through to your site.
Point out some interesting articles, talk about the redesign, share your plans and ambitions for the community as it develops in the future. If your members can sense your passion and enthusiasm, they are far more likely to drop by and give you another chance.
5) Continue to market, create content and nurture your community
You have now set the stage for your community to return with a vengeance. You are likely to see a fresh buzz of activity – keep this momentum going by continuing to create content. Continue to market your online community, continue to interact with your members, and continue to keep your members happy.
Stick to these stages, remain committed, stay enthusiastic and your forum can rise from the ashes!