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Old 16-10-2008, 08:08 PM   #1
Announce Why most forums fail within first year of their existence

Why most forums fail within first year of their existence:
If one goes to a webmasters forum, one would invariably come across threads from forum administrator on how bad their forum are performing, that no one wants to join them and old members are leaving or not posting as regularly as they used to.
While there are several reasons behind the sudden fall of a forum, I am going to discuss some of these issues in this two part article and tell you if your forum is destined to be a failure.
Starting the forum for wrong reasons…
That’s right; I have always come across forums which were started for reasons which are likely to cause the forum to fail inevitably. So before you invest your money and resource in starting a forum delve a little deeper for the reasons you want to start it and if it is one of the reasons I have listed below, then take a deep breath and do some soul searching before jumping the gun:
To get back at another forum: This seems to be one of the primary reasons why one sees new forums sprouting up almost every day. Most often than not rogue members of a particularly large or moderately successful forum might become unhappy/distressed with the forum administrator or their policy and decide to break away and start their own forum. Most often than not, forums like these don’t survive long and fail miserably.
They fail because of a simple reason, propagating negativeness and hate almost never leads to long term growth. Most often than not, these forums become the ranting point for members of the larger forum and people join not to discuss issues which they felt were being ignored by the other forum but to bitch about it. This state usually doesn’t last long and most members though still unhappy get bored with the alternative and go back to posting at the older forum.
If you are one of those who want to start a forum because you are unhappy with the current forum you’re participating in, then my suggestion would be not to try and become an alternative to the other forum by copying every thing from it, instead try and bring some uniqueness to your forum. Make sure you don’t try to steal members from other forums; instead try to grow on your own by writing articles and addressing issue you felt were being ignored by the older forums administration.
To make easy money: Many fail to realize how resource and time consuming running a forum can be. Many think on the basis of user generated content they will rank well in search engines and make some easy money. Well I got news for you; it is only some time before you realize what you got yourself into.
Forums are difficult to monetize and getting them to rank well in SERPs is tougher than getting a blog or normal site to rank. Even though in most successful forums an administrator usually doesn’t have to create majority of the content, in the initial phase (read 1-2 years) constant hand holding and content creation by the administrator himself is required on an almost daily basis along with promoting the forum through various channels.
Forums are also poor revenue generator unless you get a large number of people from search engines every day, since most of the regular visitors and member rarely if ever click on ads. Add to this, forums often need more resources to run than a simple blog or a website which adds to the overall expenditure.
Latest fad: Many these days start a forum because it is a latest fad and they feel being an administrator of a forum would be boastful for them. With out having knowledge of the niche they start a forum and after a couple of months of doing it for fun, they suddenly realize that it isn’t as fun as they first thought it would be. You will come across these people scouring through webmaster forums asking for ideas or niche they could target, well let’s face it, if you can’t even come up with the niche you need to target how do you expect to do well in it? It would be better if you stick to your job and try to become a contributing member in a forum you are interested in and maybe some day you will climb up to the ranks of moderator or even an administrator.
So what are some of the right reasons to start a forum?
Start a forum because you are genuinely interested in the niche you plan to launch your forum.
Start a forum because you have knowledge about a particular niche and are genuinely interested in learning more about it and at the same time helping those who know even less.
Start a forum because you feel what you are looking for cannot be found any where else and it would be helpful to people like you.
Start a forum not as a shortcut to the riches, but for a journey full of joy and experiences which will leave you enlightened and proud with the knowledge that you have accomplished far more than you could ever hope for.

Failing to generate content: Ask any successful internet entrepreneur; what is the single most important aspect of running a successful site or a forum and you will hear this phrase again and again, “Content is King”.
Yes that’s right, content is king!
We have all heard this over and over again, yet most forum administrators fail to generate fresh content for their forums on a daily basis. If you are one of those administrators then WAKEUP!!!
If you can’t be bothered to post on a regular basis in your own forum, then how do you expect any one else to?
Create new topics and polls every day; even if you are the only person doing this. Ask your colleagues, friends and family to help you out. Hire few paid posters for this purpose, but what ever you do, don’t let a single day go without 2-4 new topics and 10+ posts in your forum.
Remember people need topics to discuss and search engine spiders need content to crawl, and if you fail to address this basic need, then my dear friend only a miracle can save your forum and if you are hoping for one, remember god only helps those who help themselves!
Failing to promote forum in a proper manner: Another aspect forum admin ignore to their own peril is, failure to promote their forums through various means.
Along with posting daily in your forum, you need to promote it and you will be surprised with how much traffic you can bring without spending a single penny.
A good way to promote your forum would be to post in other forums which are related to your forums topic (for more on this click here), you can also comment on blogs which deal with your niche (leave a link to your forum in website link field). You also need to submit your forum to various directories and beside all the online promotion, don’t forget to promote your forum offline as well (click here to read more).
Failure to make your forum user friendly: Another aspect many forum admins fail to address is to make their forums more user friendly. While most forum scripts are user friendly to begin with, you can add a few additional features to make it even more convenient for a user.
This could be as simple as adding a quick reply mod in case your forum script doesn’t come with it or adding RSS feeds to help users conveniently track posts on your forum.
This aspect doesn’t ends at adding new features; one has to make the new joinee feel welcomed. This means even if a person doesn’t posts his introduction in the introduction section (every forum should have this section) you need to welcome him/her when they makes their first post in any section and politely ask them to introduce themselves. You can also send a personalized pm/email whenever some one joins your forum.
Creating private forums: This is a tactic few forum admins use to bump up their signups. They make the entire board either accessible to only registered members or keep a few categories open while closing the others for guests.
While on the first look this might sound like a brilliant idea, this tactic wouldn’t do you any good, for one if a user can’t see content on your forum neither can search engine spiders. Unless you have deep pockets to keep running promotions and ads on other sites or plan to “recruit your followers” through word of mouth, stay away from it. After all most people come scouring for information, not “register to view topic” error message.
This is especially true for forums which have little brand recognition in the eyes of people; after all if CNN wanted you to register for free to access a particular section, chances are you will register. On the other hand if Joe no body wanted you to register at his forum, whose name you have never heard before, chances are you would move to another forum.
Pasting ads all over the forum: While you have every right to earn money from your forum, adding ads early on or adding them in a manner that shows your level of desperation can put users off.
For instance, quite a few forums these days add adverts not only in the header and footer of the forum; they also add them between first and second post. This according to me is just a way to earn some cents without giving two hoots about the guests or forum members. I for one wouldn’t join a forum like this; most probably I would just go through what I was looking for and move on.
Remember the only sure shot way to make your forum successful is to work hard, be persistent and learn as much as you can about your niche and running forums and of course never loose hope.

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