Forum to engage users

RazgrizRazgriz subscriber Posts: 13
edited September 2016 in Building A Website That Works
I saw an article recently that said forums are still preferred by a majority of people compared to social media for connecting with others.

Based on that I have a two part question.

1) Are forums a good way to build up website traffic. Does anyone have any experience with this on their own websites.


2) Is it better to utilize a standalone forum compared to an embedded one. I understand that a forum could slow down load times and with up to 75% of users leaving a site that doesn't load within 3 seconds, it might be detrimental.

Comments

  • Ryan O'BlenessRyan O'Bleness Birmingham, Mich. administrator Posts: 1,124 Site Admin
    I am still relatively new to running a forum, and I am surely not a coder or developer, so I don't know a lot about the technical aspects of it. However, I am learning a lot as I go and this is the feedback I can provide so far.

    I would say that social media is a hotter platform in 2016, however, I agree that a forum may still be the better way to connect and engage with like-minded peers. Why? Because more often than not, a forum is in relation to a niche industry. Every user has a common interest, idea, agenda, venture, etc. So it makes sense that a forum would still be the preferred method of communication.

    As to your questions, community forums can be a great way to move traffic to your website, if done correctly. I know of a company that at one point, before the platform migrated systems, generated 80 percent of its website traffic from the community. That is not the case with them now, but it is possible.

    I think the best ways to do that are connecting the content. For example, if I am commenting on a thread that is relevant to a StartupNation article, I will often link that story in the post because I know the people in that particular thread are interested in the subject matter. Other ways to do this are by having members of your company be active in the forums, attaching signatures that connects your business and by doing your best to answer a question that was asked directly to you in a timely manner. But the trick is strategy. You do not want to ever appear spammy. I do not tolerate that here.

    Regarding your second question, again, I won't pretend I can speak on technical aspects. However, I think it makes more sense to have a forum connected to your site. It can live on a different server, but I do think it is important to A.) have the button to your community visible on the home page of your website, B.) have the same domain name with a backslash to community or forums and C.) be branded in the same way as your website/company. As far as we can tell, it has not slowed down our load times.
    Ryan O'Bleness
    Community Manager
    StartupNation, LLC
  • RazgrizRazgriz subscriber Posts: 13
    Yeah, Now that I have read a little into it, I agree with you on #2.

    I am not disparaging the success of social media. I know for my sites, it brings in the vast majority of new traffic. I was surprised that forums are still so powerful. I suppose, forums would be useful to keep traffic coming back after social media brings them in.
  • HelparoHelparo subscriber Posts: 13
    Forums represent a great way to form a community and engage with your audience. Whether they are addressing questions to you or posting other information, you can learn more about your audience from what they post.

    Also, it gives you an opportunity to form a community characterized by similar interests and attracted by the same topics of discussion. Therefore, these people are interested in your work, your products or services. This can help your website traffic and make it grow.

    Just like social media, forums have their own power and their own audience. It can help you reach different people than the ones you manage to attract through your social media profiles.
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