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15 Brilliant Bloggers Talk About Managing Forums


Brilliant Bloggers is a weekly series here at BlogWorld where we look at the best posts from around the web all surrounding a specific topic. Every week, we’ll feature three of the most brilliant bloggers out there, along with a huge list of more resources where you can learn about the topic. You can see more Brilliant Blogger posts or learn how to submit your link for an upcoming edition here.

This Week’s Topic: Managing Forums

Back in the day, before social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, I lived on forums. I loved the ability to connect with other people who had similar interests, and some of the people I met on these forums are still people I’m friends with today, several years later. Although they receive less attention than social media platforms, forums are far from dead. In fact, if you have a thriving community, you could benefit from the addition of forums on your blog.

Before you jump into this world, though, take the advice of the below-linked brilliant bloggers. These are people who know a thing or two about managing a forum, and they have some great tips and opinions that could help you on your forum ventures.

Advice from Brilliant Bloggers:

How to Start a Busy Forum in ONE Day by Gary Mccaffrey

In my experience, the biggest challenge of any forum admin is keeping people interested. It’s especially difficult at the beginning, because people are always hesitant to get involved with anything if no one else is involved. In my opinion, it’s why some popular blogs continue to stay popular, even if there is better content at other blogs. People love to be part of something. In this post, Gary talks about how to create an environment where people are encouraged to participate, even from day one. This creates that momentum you need to keep the forum active. Writes Gary,

I developed this method after failing badly when I first attempted to start an online discussion forum.  It’s a pretty much fail proof method for getting a forum started.

If you’ve ever tried or even thought about starting an internet forum before, you will know that it is not easy.

After reading the entire post about starting a new forum, you can find Gary on Twitter @garymccaffrey.

5 Things Not to Do When Starting a Forum by Josh

Sometimes it’s not what you should do, but rather what you should avoid doing. In this post, Josh talks about some of the most common mistakes forum admins make when starting a new forum and managing members for the first time. Whether you’re starting a forum for your own blog or taking a new position with someone else as their new forum mod, these are great tips you can use to avoid killing traffic and participation. From the post:

Creating a successful forum can be a difficult task for any Admin, even though there’s loads of information out there about forum management. But while there is a lot of information about how to build a successful forum, there isn’t much information about some of the causes of failure.

Josh is also a moderator at Chaterrific. You can find him on Twitter @originaljlogan.

Top Ten Lessons I’ve Learned About Managing an Online Forum by pops

I think this post shares some really important experiences about managing an online forum from someone who’s been an admin at two very different kinds of forums. Not every “rule” out there is going to work for every forum, just like not every “rule” out there is going to work for every blog. However, despite differences, a forum is a forum is a forum. So, take a look at the lessons you can learn from this blogger’s experiences to better your own forums. From the post:

Starting a forum is a lot of work and the financial rewards come slowly and irregularly if at all. During the lean times, your passion is what will sustain you. Actually, it doesn’t even have to be YOUR passion. Both of my forums were someone else’s idea. Initially I was just along for the ride. It was their commitment that dragged me (and the forums) through the tough times.

This blog also has a really great post called Tips on Promoting Your Forum that I recommend checking out.

Even More Brilliant Advice:

Did I miss your post or a post by someone you know about managing forums? Unintentional! Help me out by leaving a comment below with the link.

Next Week’s Topic: Paper.li

I’d love to include a link to your post next week – and if you head to the Brilliant Bloggers Schedule, you can see even more upcoming posts. We all have something to learn from one another, so please don’t be shy! Head to the schedule today to learn how to submit your post so I won’t miss it.

Build a Community Around Your Content


… 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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