How to create a successful forum?
When creating a website, it's to get known, and to gain visibility. Not to stay all alone in your room, hidden behind your screen, without anyone noticing you.
The whole point of a digital presence is of course to take advantage of interactivity, and to get closer to others (users, customers, community...). In this sense, the creation of a forum is coherent with the Internet.
Geek par excellence, the forum is almost as old as the internet, and it is a legend. It is one of the oldest ways of communicating on the web and yet, the years go by, and the forum remains.
Immutable, unperturbed, impassive…
The good old traditional forum is still there when one needs to exchange information or needs support for something
What are the advantages of creating a forum? How to create a forum, or integrate one on your website? And above all, how to make an effective forum, which fulfills its role well?
We will try to answer all these questions together... And we start now !
Is the forum outdated?
No, not at all!
On the contrary! For us, opening a forum is more than ever in the era of time 😉
Whether you are a professional, or a private person, there are many benefits from adding a forum to your website.
Not only is it not old-fashioned, but if you do it right, it can really be a plus.
Below we have listed all the benefits of having a forum on your website.
See how people interact with each other, challenge each other, argue (sometimes actively) on Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter.
Well, having a forum is a bit like creating a kind of micro-community, on one's own website, quietly at home. To talk, between fans, about a shared passion, or a common interest. Or between consumers, to ask questions or deal with a problem concerning a product or service.
Visitors, by taking part in discussions, on your forum, can become members of your site, and above all, become part of your community.
Like here, on the Vinted forum, where subscribers share tips about fashion.
An internet forum is a great way to encourage discussion. Sharing questions, perplexities or experiences is a natural human tendency. Creating an online discussion forum around your brand is a good way to create a warm and inviting ambience on your site.
To target your audience even more precisely, it is also possible to split it into several groups (for example, by age or by category). This will allow you to create topics, corresponding to your audience's interests.
The famous reddit forum deals with a lot of topics related to geek culture.
Creating an online forum is a good way to collect opinions, to survey the trends, to analyze your strengths, to know the aspects to be improved... All this in a clear and orderly way, without having to spend hours doing surveys, questionnaires, monitoring your competitors’ websites, or sorting emails.
This way, you have a lot of data about your community, stored on your own website and classified by keywords and categories, so it's pretty easy to process. That's great! 👍
In the Mental Health Forum, we can see the topics are diverse. Each topic is classified in a category, in order to be consulted more easily.
A forum is not only useful for your audience. It can also be a great help for your communication with your team.
Indeed, by creating a professional forum, you allow all your employees to find information from the community. This saves time and efficiency, in case collaborators are not available to answer questions immediately.
In addition to providing help and support, a forum can also be a source of collaboration, to advance projects or find solutions, by gathering ideas and crossing knowledge.
If a forum is successful, it can increase visits to a website:
Your users will get into the habit of participating (and they will like it!).
Your website visitors can even befriend each other.
And when a question or comment is posted, the author will come back to the website, to monitor the answers.
As a professional, we sometimes struggle to get feedback from people. We send many emails, forms or surveys, without necessarily getting answers.
Adding a forum to your site allows you to offer your customers a place that is accessible 24/7.
In this space, they can express themselves freely, at any time and above all, anonymously, to show their enthusiasm, their joy, or conversely, to communicate their dissatisfaction, with complaints and criticisms.
On a forum, tongues are loosened and confessions are made: we let ourselves go. 😌
But let this not scare you: consumer reviews are very useful. There is no more effective way to evolve, by enhancing your strengths, and improving your weaknesses.
It is not always easy, when you own a brand, to create a real proximity with your audience.
Everyone needs attention, and to be listened to. But it is difficult, especially when a company grows, to devote time to each customer.
Integrating a forum into your website can be a good way to get closer to your visitors (members, customers...), by creating a space to debate, express and ask questions. Moreover, this space is lively, interactive, and human.
If you want to improve your service and stand out from the competition, adding a forum to your site is a good idea.
It's a great way to improve your after-sale service. Customers can ask their questions, after receiving their order, for example.
And this, without having to leave their home, or even pick up the phone and wait for long minutes and / or pay a call-out fee.
Moreover, the answers are visible to all, which allows to optimize efforts, and to improve information exchange. And by the way, to unclog your phone line.
It allows you to create a relationship of trust, and a good connection with your audience, that is satisfied to get quick answers (even if there is a problem with your product), without having lost time.
In this example taken from the Amazon seller forum, the company benefits from the exchanges between their members. Many of them are happy to help others, without the company needing to do anything.
We couldn't not talk about this. Of course, your forum will boost your SEO and visibility. Without you having to lift a finger.
Isn't life great?
Yes, each discussion forum topic is based on keywords related to your industry, and if your community members are active, the pages will grow, and enrich, without you having to do too much.
As you can see, on this forum created by an internet service provider (ISP), the discussions about topics related to the main activity of the company are numerous. A godsend for SEO!
That's it: you are even more convinced of the benefits of adding a forum. And now, you are eager to know: how to create your own discussion forum 😉
To create an internet forum or add a forum to your site, you will have two options: either host it yourself, or use an online service.
You will have to find specialized software, and host it on your server. There are free or paid programs to create a forum in php. It is important to check the compatibility with your server.
If you have built your website on Wordpress, and you want to integrate a forum,we recommend you not to create it separately: the workload of it may discourage you. Instead, if your CMS offers it, use a forum plugin. The possibilities will be more limited, but you will save yourself some headaches.
By hosting your own forum, you will gain flexibility and freedom, but it will be up to you to manage all the security issues (including protection against cyber attacks, such as spamming). You'll also have to make sure that you take care of backups yourself. And you'll be on your own, if anything goes wrong.
The easiest option to create a forum is to use an online service, like for example a website builder (such as SiteW that gives you the possibility to add a forum block 😉 ).
So you get a turnkey solution. In this case, the provider takes care of hosting, maintenance, security, and technology updates.
This is the solution that requires the least effort in terms of computation and resources.
The main advantage of these online platforms is the simplicity, but also the possibility to be accompanied, and to easily ask for help, in case of any problems.
For the solo option, it may be cheaper to install, but you won’t have any flexibility in terms of cost: if you need to reduce your forum activity, you may lose money.
On the other hand, it will be easier for you to change your plan (reduce or increase resources) by using a turnkey system, like a website builder.
By subscribing to our Unlimited, Essential E-commerce, Advanced E-commerce, or Unlimited E-commerce plan, you will be able to create an unlimited forum, in just one click, on your website.
Your visitors will have the possibility to launch a discussion, by creating their own topic, or to enrich the existing discussions, by posting their answer.
To post a message, they just have to register to your site, by filling the appropriate form. Afterwards, they will just have to log in to their personal member area to participate in the discussions.
It will be possible to add a search field to your page. Thus, your visitors will be able to search for a topic, by entering a keyword or the URL of the page, in the browser address bar.
Any of the posts, comments and topics can be edited by the author (and admin), by clicking on the dedicated buttons.
If you choose one of the e-commerce turnkey solutions, you can create an unlimited number of forums, by adding a block to different pages.
👉 Here is how to proceed to add a forum to your site, with our web design tools:
1️⃣ Simply drag and drop a block, from the content panel, located on the left side of your screen.
2️⃣ Then place it and resize it as needed using the various controls on the border.
3️⃣ Next, configure your forum,using the options on the panel, when your block is selected.
You can :
Enable notifications, so that you receive a message as soon as someone has submitted something.
Check Validation, to manage and moderate the posts.
Offer your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter
Activate the GDPR (whose text you can customize), as well as the consent request.
4️⃣ Finally, go to the design panel (after selecting the block) to modify the appearance of your forum.
On the Block tab, you can:
Set the number of topics per page
Set the number of posts per page
Choose whether you want to display the reply form at the top or bottom of the post, or both.
Add a search field for your visitors to browse through the forum topics.
Check the Auto size option to automatically resize the forum, as new posts are made (otherwise a scroll bar will appear).
On the Elements tab, you can:
Configure the background style, page numbering, buttons, and text fields.
For each element, you can apply an existing style, to maintain the harmony of the website. Or you can customize an existing style or design a new one, as you wish.
With us, a forum is included and free of charge for any subscription to our Unlimited, Essential E-commerce, Advanced E-commerce, or Unlimited E-commerce plans.
The Unlimited plan will allow you to create a professional website for $17,50/month.
With the Essential E-commerce plan at $20,80/month, you can create a small online store.
With the Advanced E-commerce package at $32,50/month, you can have a complete online store, with many marketing features.
And with the Unlimited E-commerce plan at $57,50/month, you will have a complete online store, and you will be able to add as many forums as you want.
How to make your forum successful and more interactive?
In short, to make your forum look like a forum, and not a lonely and pathetic place, you need to adopt a marketing strategy.
To bring people to your forum, you must first attract them to your site:
Start by creating high quality content, to attract people.
Then, maintain your forum, so that it doesn't look dead 😉 :
Highlight your forum on your website: don't hide it in your website's footer, instead give it a prominent place in your menu.
Encourage people to participate,
Launch interesting topics,
Don't leave a message unanswered,
Make regular updates.
You can also organize contests. For example, by rewarding the most active members.
You should also set up promotional actions:
To create a popular forum, there is nothing like word of mouth.
You can also work on its SEO: fill in the meta-descriptions, and just like for any other page, think about your keywords. In the same way, try to build backlinks to your forum, on quality websites, related to the topics you cover.
Simple, fast and efficient
All you need to do is get started!
And now, you are ready for debates, passionate conversations, exchanges, sharing opinions, crazy stories, hilarious moments...!
We wish you countless adventures on your new forum, and to make your community grow!
Last update: March 26, 2023