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Forum Management 10 Steps to Successful Forum Management

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Articles about managing forums, members and staff, policy creation, and general moderation.

10 Steps to Successful Forum Management​

Achieving successful forum management isn’t impossible these days.

It feels like forums are dead, but they’re not. They’re not as active as they once were. But they’re still here, and you can still have a thriving online community. But you’ll have to work for it. The internet is oversaturated – every niche is. Billions of people use the internet every day. That’s BIG TIME competition.

You’ll work for successful forum management, and it’ll feel good when it happens after you put in the work.

But you shouldn’t have to sit around and play a guessing game of what you must do to succeed. Instead, you can enjoy the tip of people who are experienced with it. So, I’m writing this article because I’ve done these things myself and have attentively studied other forum owners who also do these ten steps.

Let’s get into the ten steps to successful forum management below.

Step 1 – Niche Down​

You need to niche down to be a successful forum owner.

Don’t look for the most trending topic to find your niche. Your best niche is a topic you’re interested in or passionate about. That is the topic that will keep you engaged with others.

If you choose something you don’t know much about, it will be challenging to keep the forum active, which you must do to succeed!

If you choose the off-topic forum niche, you need to niche down on it, too. Instead of making a board for every topic, choose general trending topics and focus on them just as long as you can keep those topics active all by yourself if needed, which is often the case at first.

But hold on! Before you launch your forum, make sure your niche is online. Look for communities about it. Look on social media. Look for blogs. You want to ensure that the niche is present so that you have an audience to target.

Niching down is the essential step to successful forum management.

Step 2 – Know Your Audience​

After you find your niche, it’s time to research your target audience.

I told you in the first tip to make sure your niche is online by looking for people within it. I explained to look for other forums, social media, blogs, and other sources. Go back to those sources and start studying very carefully.

It’s good to take notes during this step.

Make a note of comment concerns, challenges, and questions around the niche and the industry it focuses on.

Find out what makes your audience tick. What do they like about the niche? What do they dislike about the niche?

Knowing your audience will help you be a successful forum owner from the start of your community.

Step 3 – Solve Problems​

You’ve researched your audience and understand their struggles relating to the niche and industry.

Now it’s time to solve problems!

Brainstorm ways you can use your forum to solve their struggles. Maybe it’s an article section like the one we have here. Perhaps you can create specific sections to discuss those issues. Possibly you can provide news and exploits of those concerns.

However you decide to address them, you need to use your forum as the vehicle to manage them.

That’s your goal for this step!

Step 4 – Quality Over Quantity​

In social media, algorithms want quantity over quality. That’s why so many reels are the same as the last one.

But with a blog and a forum, people want to consume information that helps them with their struggles and concerns.

So, in this step, you must focus on quality content over quantity.

But like social media requires, you must also remain consistent about it.

Regarding quality content, your goal should be to make the content better than any other content available for the topic. This includes sections on the forum, articles, threads, and even replies.

It needs to be significantly helpful. It needs to address the concern immediately. It needs to provide the simplest solution possible.

Make these things happen, and you’ll succeed at successful forum management from the start of your community.

Step 5 – Start Out Small and Grow​

When I started making forums over 20 years ago, I’d create one with so many sections added because I thought it would generate interest.

It doesn’t.

It makes your forum look emptier, and it gives you more work. How? Because you need to keep those sections active while growing your community. A section with no new posts can make the whole forum less active.

I told you that successful forum management takes work. I meant what I said.

So, try to start out small with forum categories, sections, and sub-sections. As you grow, and there is a significant demand for new sections, that’s when you add them. If no one is requesting them, don’t add them.

Keep it simple and grow as you go.

Step 6 – Engage New Members​

Treat a new member like your first-ever customer!

Seriously! More forum owners should be doing this step RIGHT NOW!

When a new member joins your forum, don’t wait for them to post an introduction before you engage. Send them a PM and start there. Thank them for joining and try to initiate small talk. Then keep the conversation going.

Your goal is to encourage them to be active while also developing a relationship with the member. The more of a friendship that gets created, the more likely that member will become a loyal member of your community.

Focus on your people from the start.

Step 7 – Don’t Clique​

Cliques are for high school folks. They’re not for forums.

Every forum I’ve created has almost resulted from a clique from another forum that shared the same topic.

I hate cliques. They’re toxic. They’ll drive members away. They build a community of snobs.

I will stop them from forming on my forum from the get-go. You should, too, if you genuinely care about the future of your forum.

Everyone is essential, not just a specific group.

Step 8 – Zero Tolerance on Toxicity​

Toxic members will destroy your forum, everything you worked for, and your reputation.

Stop toxicity before it gets started.

If you notice a troll or a bully, get rid of them immediately. Seriously! Ban them from the forum. Get them out of there. They’ll only worsen matters as you allow them to build credit on the forum.

They’ll create cliques, too. They’ll turn other people into a toxic member as much as they are.

This can be prevented by nipping it in the bud from the start.

Toxic members, bullies, trolls, and people who are hateful and constantly negative will kill your successful forum management before you even start.

Step 9 – Build a Community​

The best way to have an online community is to build one.

No, the forum itself isn’t the online community. It’s the members, the relationships they create, and how loyal they want to continue engaging with you and each other. That is what makes a forum a community.

I don’t call message forums a community because not all forums are a community.

It takes more to make something a community. It takes you and your members.

Step 10 – Keep it on the Forum​

This step is a step I’ve recently adopted.

Now it doesn’t favor add-on developers very much. And I apologize to them.

But this step is essential.

Try to limit add-ons and customizations that take away from the forum.

I run XenForo. I have the Resources add-on. I removed it. I can provide the same feature with a board created on the forum and the use of custom fields and prefixes. I aim to keep as many of the main core forum features as possible.

This keeps the forum more active than add-ons because those add-ons usually take away activity from the forum.

It also stops the member from having to learn additional controls. If they can do it all on the forum, it’s less confusing. Having to learn other controls may discourage members from continuing to be active.

Keep as much on the forum as possible.

And that’s my ten tips for successful forum management. The tips above will help you be a successful forum owner. I use them on my forums, and they’re starting to grow nicely. It takes time and work, but the above steps will relieve some. Thanks for reading!