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How Forums Can Help Improve Your Website or Project

By Mike Creuzer on  10/11/2017
Forums have always been an integral part the way people interact on the internet. Message boards create unique online communities through primarily user-generated content that allows users to interact with each other in a way that feels personable. While forums are traditionally viewed as a tool for social interaction, forums can be an extremely useful tool for expanding your project. A forum can increase revenue, drive traffic to your site, as well as traditionally increases user engagement on your site.
Build New Revenue Streams
Exclusive forums often require membership fees, having users pay to create and maintain their account within the forum. Sponsored threads allow for others to pay for their content, traditionally promotional, to appear towards the top of the thread list, helping their content receive engagement. Featured content allows for other’s to pay to keep their content towards the top of the page. Forums also offer locations for additional ad placements.
Drive Traffic to Your Site
The content on your forums is primarily user-generated. The focused discussion provides a smaller, more intimate feel compared to a social media site. Members tend to feel more involved and become more invested in the success of your project. This kind of interaction provides you with a collection of new pages that Google and other search engines can index using long tail keywords. It also provides you with more content, so that your users can check back more often to keep up to date with their community. As a forum administrator, you also have control over organizing and controlling the content that gets created on your site to insure that your message remains consistent.
Expand User Engagement

Forums also provide social media tools and interactive features that improve the user experience of your community. Members are able to like content, direct message with other members, and create profile posts. All of these features help instill the idea that your forum is a community, which helps maintain user engagement. You can also incorporate recreation extensions and tools, such as arcades, games, betting, and gambling. Incorporating off-topic areas, thread games, and contests helps encourage engagement as well as drives users to becoming more personable with the other members of the forum.

This close knit community created by forums allows your users to feel both invested and valued in your community. Users in communities like this are more likely to engage and become personable with your site. They have their own account and profile with profile posts. They are more likely to post directly on your site as well as engage in site based activities such as poles and upvoting.

Forums can also be used for crowd-sourced support. Companies like PayPal, Ubuntu, Apple, Steam, HP, and Tesla all use this technique to provide support to their users. This allows users to quickly search or ask questions within the community and other users to provide support or relate to issues they are having. This is both beneficial to the users and your site, allowing your forums to serve in a “self-service” method.

An Affordable Option

Forums are low-costing and easy to maintain. Custom websites with similar functionalities can cost upwards of ten thousand dollars. However, a forum can be created on a cheap server for approximately $10 a month. Forum software ranges from free to a few hundred dollars and can be customized with add-ons and themes averaging around $30 a piece. Your forum can be created to be as customized as you want it. You can typically create an extremely customized theme, installation, hosting for a year, and setup your entire forum for under $1000. If you’re able to piece everything out and make it a DIY project, you can accomplish this for hundreds.

While forums are traditionally thought of as a separate entity designed for social activity, they have they ability to service many additional purposes. This low cost option is able to benefit your project through revenue, traffic, and user engagement. Allowing users to interact in a community focused around your product allows your site to be filled with unique, user generated content that helps your SEO and increases the familiarity around your product.

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