The use of a forum can be an effective means of understanding your customers. However, the start-up of a forum can be a bit like attending a get-together where no one wants to be the first to say something.
Most get-togethers require some sort of icebreaker and the same is true for a forum. You can hope for the best and eventually a few people will post, but the most successful forums are often the ones that already have a visible history of posts where a visitor can easily sound off on an existing thread or conversation.
So how do you make your forum a desired online destination when you initialize the message board?
Well, there are a couple of ways to encourage your visitors to post.
You can develop contests for your visitors to participate in. This can be tied to most active member (no spam or meaningless posts allowed) or it can simply be a random drawing from all active members. It can also be tied to a variety of other creative criteria.
Paid Forum Posts
There are several companies that can provide a team of forum posters that can help infuse your site with as many posts as you need. These companies utilize a freelance posting staff who are paid on each qualifying post they make. .
Many of these services do a good job of making sure your interests are protected and invite other new members to participate in the dialogue. This type of service is generally not used long-term, but simply as a way to kick start (or jump start in some cases) a new or existing forum.
If you chose to use a service like this feel free to ask for certain restrictions on the type of posts you will accept. For example most forum boards have a general topic area. You might state that whoever is being paid for forum posts cannot post to the general topic area. This type of post is very easy to do and may not provide a meaningful platform for other members to jump from in relation to the business specific topics you are hoping to grow.
At some point you will likely stop using a fee-based posting service, but by then you may likely discover the regulars are beginning to talk amongst themselves anyway.
Don’t be discouraged if your forum doesn’t take off right away. Sometimes forums just need a little help getting started.
Scott Lindsay is a web developer and entrepreneur. He is the founder of HighPowerSites and many other web projects. Get your own website online in just 5 minutes with HighPowerSites.com at: http://www.highpowersites.com Start your own ebook business with BooksWealth at: http://www.bookswealth.com