faq-moremembers [Jcink.com Wiki]

How do I get more members?

This is one of the more common questions asked and is something that there is no easy answer to. Getting members is tough, it's something all forums struggle with in the beginning. So you're not alone. To help you out though, here are some tips to keep in mind to help you get more members. Just keep in mind that these tips are not surefire guarantees to getting more members and should not be treated like they are either.

Examine your layout

Firstly, take a look at your forum's skin. Make sure that you have a skin that is easy for guests to read. (Don't use neon colours together, use at least a 10px font size, make sure fonts have good contrast against the background, limit use of fancy fonts like Georgia. ) If guests can't read your forum they aren't going to stick around. If you can't create a skin yourself, check out the ACP's skin importer for some easy to install and good looking skins to get you started. Or check out Jcink Support forum's Skin section for some .xml files you can install. Note - The Jcink Support Forum does not take skin requests.

Also take a look at the layout of the forum… Does it make sense? Do you have your forums grouped in logical categories? (EX- you have a section titled “Music” and in it there is “TV shows”, “Recipes”, “Heavy Metal” and “Memes” a guest seeing that would likely be confused and put off, thus more likely to leave.)

You'll want to ensure that guests can see at least a sample of what your forum is about. So make sure that you have at least your rules and a few sections visible. (Guests won't join if they can't see at least part of the forum. If you have your rules hidden that makes guests extremely suspicious of your forum and highly wary, thus unlikely to join.)

How many forums/categories do you have? If you have many forums then it causes the forum to look larger and more inactive than it may be.

If you're not sure about the looks of your forum then it can definitely help to have an outside set of eyes take a look. Asking a friend or other person can help shed some light on issues you may otherwise overlook. Note - Jcink Forum Hosting does not do reviews.

Get some content

The more categories and forums you have starting off the more places you have to fill with content. Because the more places that have 0 posts in them, the more inactive a forum looks. (Even if you have 4 places getting regular posts, if you have 8 places getting no posts at all that can have a detrimental effect.) So it's best to start generic, EX- Music, then when people start making a lot of topics about a certain type then you can create the forum for it. EX- if they create 35 topics about various Metal bands, then create a sub-forum in the Music forum for Metal.

Because you have sections visible to guests, you'll want to ensure they have content (aka posts and replies). If you have no topics then no one will join. So you will need to create some topics first. If you can, get a friend or someone (like in a post exchange, see below…) to help by making some topics and replies. The more activity you can generate and sustain the more likely people are to join. (This is a part of the catch-22 of forums… You need activity to get activity.)

Consider participating in post exchanges. (While not an ideal solution, it can temporarily help you get some activity going. Bear in mind though that if you agree to a post exchange hold up your end of the bargain or else it will almost certainly guarantee your site won't succeed. People burned through post exchanges usually let others know which causes people to avoid your site like the plague.) For those that don't know, a Post Exchange is where the admins (or other staff members) from two different forums agree to register on each other's and make a pre-determined number of posts. (This number is usually between 10 to 30 posts.) Warning - Jcink Forum Hosting is not responsible for any post exchanges. We do not offer this service and we make no guarantees of it's effectiveness. If you want to get involved in post exchanges you must search this out for yourself. (Google is an effective tool.)

Get the word out

After you start getting some content, you need to advertise. (Where you're allowed of course. Bear in mind the Jcink Support Forum is NOT a place to advertise. So do not create topics promoting your site or asking for help with that. It's also worth noting that when you start off you most likely do not need multiple staff members. Until you get at least 50-100 members a single admin can usually manage just fine. )

Use Google to help make your site easier to find (either by submitting the site to Google to be indexed or just repeatedly searching for your exact site's url.)

In your skin's wrappers, add some meta tags (these go below the ”</title>” and above the ”<% GENERATOR %>” tags in your wrappers ). EX:

<meta name="description" content="Talk about everything" />
<meta name="keywords" content=" Forum, discussion" />

Meta tags tell search engines what your forum is about and can help people find your site easier. Just be careful not to overload the meta tags with too many keywords or too long of a description because then search engines will ignore your meta tags. More info on meta tags can be found here.

Find sites that you're allowed to advertise on. (Try searching Google for Forum Promotion websites.)

You may also want to look around for website/forum directories. Sometimes they can be worth it to submit to if they're not either dead or absolutely so massive that your site gets lost. (Though they can be useful to comb through anyway to see if some sites are still around in your genre for other purposes… Like finding affiliates or other sites to advertise on.) Though if you plan to submit to directories make sure that you read their documentation so you know what you're getting into. (Some directories require that you have their affiliate button posted on your index and/or contribute activity on their site before you can list your site.)

Promote your site through Facebook/twitter if you have them. Follow other people and you'll show up more often around so you'll be more likely to get noticed. Try to have regular updates, like every other day or so. (Though before you do this ensure you have some content worth telling others about.)

Find affiliates for your site. (You can find affiliates by looking around at other people's sites on the support forum, through google, through directories or even through twitter. Many sites themselves will have topics posted about how to affiliate and what conditions, if any, must be met. Some sites have a “your site must be x months old” and/or “your site must have X active members” requirement before they are willing to affiliate. The reason for this is to prevent them from affiliating with sites that have a higher risk of dying/going inactive.)

While you are doing promotions, you need to keep original content coming. No one wants to join a forum where there is no activity.

Final Words

While you're out in other communities remember that you're acting as a representative of your site and the environment others are likely to find on your site. So be sure to watch what you say and how you act. If you're rude or inconsiderate then it will reflect poorly on you and can very easily cost you potential members.

Finally, it is important to keep expectations realistic. So you need to understand that it does take time once you've created your forum for members to start joining. It is unrealistic to expect 20 members within the first week. (Even with a more popular forum type/genre. Remember that even if your forum is of a popular type there is a lot of competition there too so you'll need to work harder to provide good reasons why guests should become members.) Many forums take months before they may get even 50 members… (Just 50 members, not 50 members active per day.) This isn't to be discouraging, it's just the way forums are so if you expect members to sign up just because you've opened a forum then your forum is destined to fail.

faq-moremembers.txt · Last modified: 2012/01/06 23:55 by viruszero