As part of the 90 9 1 principle of forum participation, getting traffic to the site is of prime importance to build up the 90, so the 9 builds up and then the 1 (ignore that actual numbers, as it’s the principle or framework that counts).
You have got your forum up and running, you have staff in place, you have kick started the content, you then need the traffic so some will convert to being members.
Where do you get that traffic from:
- Launch email list. Trawl the web, build up a massive list of emails of contacts in your niche. Send them a polite email when you are ready to go.
- The search engines are important. You need to get all your threads indexed and ranking well for the long tail searches to bring in an ever increasing stream of new visitors (see the strategies here). Constantly working on this to get the rankings will help grow the forum, but also puts you in strong position against any competing forums (where are the new competitors going to get the new members from after the initial influx if you dominate the search engines?). See the SEO posts.
- Twitter. Send your forum RSS feed to Twitter. Search Twitter for your niche’s keyword. Tweet people posting about it. Do not annoy them and do not spam them. Think about the sorts of Tweets that you want. Think about how you do not like being spammed.
- Set up a Facebook fan page. Poke those in your niche to be a fan or friend. Do not spam. Treat them like you would like to be treated.
- Yahoo Answers. Respond to questions at Yahoo Answers to get forum traffic.
- Blog Commenting. Comment on relevant blogs with a link back to your forum. Do not spam them with useless content; instead contribute to useful dialogue to add value to the blog. Pretend it was your blog and only post what you would like posted on your blog. 99% of the comments posted here are not approved as they add no value to the topic.
- Forum posting. Post in forums with your forum in the signature. Respect the rules of that forum and behave how you would expect others to behave on your forum. Some forums have rules against recruiting for other forums. Do not be a fluff poster and profile spammer (you do not like it when they do it on your forum, so do not do it on others; useful members of a community will get more clicks on their signatures). Do not post to build backlinks, as forum signatures are useless for that.
- It’s all part of the plan. Use some of the strategies like getting book authors to judge competition threads (and hopefully they will become very valuable members).
- Advertise. Use Google Adwords or even Facebook advertisements. This will obviously depend on your budget. Monetise your forum, so you can consider keeping some background advertising going on a permanent basis.
- Forum Directories. Forum directories might get you a small amount of traffic.
- YouTube. Set up a YouTube channel in your forum’s name and post some useful videos.
- Offline Promotion. Don’t forget this. For example, visit conferences and tradeshows relevant to your niche and network and hand out your card or flyer about your site. If you can’t go, find a member who can and be a champion for your site.
- Pay for some laser targeted Facebook advertisements.
There are many strategies that can be used to get traffic to a forum that have to be implemented on an ongoing basis. The content has to be in place first, then implement the strategies to convert the visitor to a member.
- How to get Twitter followers, so you get forum traffic?
- Using member profiles as a source of traffic.
- Do forum signature links help a sites ranking?
- Send your forum RSS feed to Twitter
- Yahoo! Answers as a Source of Traffic and Members
- Converting the visitor into a member
- Twitter being used by Google and Bing