Any Tips for Starting a Forum?

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Anyone created a forum from scratch before? I have zero experience doing this however one of my informational sites has started taking off recently and I'd love to nurture a community to build engagement, a following, and ultimately a brand.

Some specific forum questions I had:
-BBPress a workable solution still? Any better recommendations? (WP plugins)
-Outside of creating starter categories and threads, how do you make it not appear to be a ghost town initially? Is this an unwarranted fear? If not, any plugins/services for simulating/seeding unique user question/answers?
-Is there an approximate traffic level a site owner should be at before they consider implementing a forum? i.e it's not worth your time generally if you have <1000 daily sessions?

These are my biggest question marks. My site is a strong passion niche and as mentioned the content already published is very informational/resource oriented.

Appreciative of any insight BoSu members with forum starting experience might have to share!
 

Ryuzaki

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I don't know about Wordpress-based forums, but I did run a fairly successful forum in the past, nearly two decades ago.

-Outside of creating starter categories and threads, how do you make it not appear to be a ghost town initially? Is this an unwarranted fear? If not, any plugins/services for simulating/seeding unique user question/answers?
My philosophy, and one I saw play out there on BuSo as well, was to start with fewer forum sections. If you roll out with 30 sections, they're going to all look empty and barely have any activity. If you start with 2 or 3, you can keep conversation cycling in them. It also minimizes the amount of "seeding" you have to do in regards to starter threads.

I would then only create a new forum section when I saw enough discussion already happening to warrant it, then move all of the old threads to the new section once it was opened.

It's also helpful if you can put out feelers to your community and see who wants to contribute. Some people crave that type of attention and "power" and will give you a lot of their time and effort to maintain that. I used to like to have one moderator per sub-forum and it was their job to create new threads, respond to threads, and keep an eye out on typical moderation needs. Compartmentalizing like this creates a competition to be the better mod, too.

-Is there an approximate traffic level a site owner should be at before they consider implementing a forum? i.e it's not worth your time generally if you have <1000 daily sessions?
I don't think the amount of traffic to your non-forum site is going to matter much. You have the exact same hurdles to overcome, regarding looking like a ghost town.

Also, like 1% of your users will be power users, 4% will be regular posters, and 15% might post once in a blue moon, and 80% will be lurkers. So you might sneak more power users and regular posters out of your daily traffic, but it's highly unlikely at the start. You have to get over that initial hurdle first regardless, and then realize most of your daily traffic is 100% bounce rate organic traffic (probably, I'm assuming anyways) that aren't going to stick around for your forum.

Building a forum based on a website is probably less likely to succeed than building a website based off of a forum. It's a whole separate beast.
 
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I use Invision, few forums (as above) and a posting service from Fiverr. Building a healthy organic forum is hard and your time is very likely better spent elsewhere though.
 
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Fuck that negative nancy shit. Just do it Harrytwatter.

If it doesn't work out then you're going to walk away with lessons and more knowledge about engagement and steps for creating a successful brand.

If it works out, fuck yes.
 
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Appreciate all the great feedback. I may whip something up, small, just a few threads (per Ryuzaki's recommendation here) and just see what happens. I get it's hard, and even the sticky users come at a price of moderation time, so definitely solid pros/cons but I feel like if it's easy to navigate, helpful, and positive it could help my brand in the long run.
 

secretagentdad

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Put up an email submit coming soon splat page with a launch date and promote to it for a bit before you launch.

Promote a few good discussion bait topics with some pre hype.


Email the list direct linking the content you forecasted to the list when you launch to try and help overcome your chicken egg barrier.


Also go look at flarum. It’s some of the most promising up and coming software that has some downright genius architecture and design.
 
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Many of the forums I used to frequent have closed and moved to Facebook groups. Depending on your niche, this might be a better bet. Or a subreddit?
 

secretagentdad

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Many of the forums I used to frequent have closed and moved to Facebook groups. Depending on your niche, this might be a better bet. Or a subreddit?
Facebook sells your audience to your competitors ruining your network effect.


Don’t get zuckered in.
 
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