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Build a Community Around Your Content

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… by Greg Marlin

So you have a great blog, one with vast amount of good content and visits. But when you look at your page views per user counts, they are paltry at best. You look wistfully at the PV counts on sites with crappy content but a reason to keep people around, and wonder what you can do differently.

There are only so many times the same avid reader can read all of the articles on your site. But wait, I have comments! Comments are linear, as they can only be made on each individual post. It’s kind of like having a conversation with your friends and rigidly forcing them to stay on topic…not very fun is it?

So What’s the Solution?

You need to build a community around your content, thus giving your audience a reason to hang around. I write more about this on the Vanilla blog on “Building An Online Community Around Your Content” but the crazy thing is your audience is probably dying for you to do just that! The shared interest in what you have to say gives them more in common with each other than the fact they bumped into each other at a party and are now Facebook friends. What’s even more striking is you’ve already solved one of the hardest parts of building an online community – seeding it with great content.

How do You Build a Community?

The best way to build a community that will stand out and give your readers a reason to stay, is by tying it directly to your content in the form of conversations. You have already given them the what to talk about (or at least to start the conversation), now you are giving the where on your site. That’s through a forum. A Forum!? Those clunky old bulletin boards that look like websites circa 1997 and are a beast to manage? No, the new ones that take a fresh approach to the power of forums, are easy to set-up and manage and integrate tightly with your site through theme design, modular architecture, advanced user management and single-sign-on authentication.
When the Online Community Report surveyed top community managers on what community tool they used most it was discussion forums. So take a look at forums as a way to realize the full value of your content and build a community on your site.

Greg is Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at VanillaForums.com. He has a background in strategic planning, alliances, marketing and sales. As part of his role at Vanilla, he is active in researching, analyzing and reporting on community management best practices, both to inform Vanilla’s product development and also to provide advice to customer communities. Having owned and managed his own content and community websites, he is also aware of some of the unique challenges facing content producers. His major hobby of the moment is training for his first full-distance Ironman triathlon.

Company Bio

VanillaForums.com powers content and customer communities, designed with the community manager’s job in mind. Its flexible design system makes it possible for customers to customize community sites to fit their vision (not that of the forum software company), including exactly matching the look and feel of an existing site. The modular core architecture enables the platform to be added to fit exacting needs and the open authentication plugin system allows the community to connect through Single-Sign-On to any website or application, as well as to external networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and OpenID. And since Vanilla Forums is open-source customers can rely on a wide network of developers who actively use and test the software and add plugins to the community, and customers can build additional plugins themselves.

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