Has the number of members who login to your forum on a daily basis hit a plateau? I stay in contact with a lot of forum owners, and the answer for many of them is "yes". Sure, new members are joining your forum all the time, but old members are leaving at the same rate. Where are they going?
Poll the members of your community and ask how many have MySpace profiles. The numbers might surprise you. MySpace has over 40 million members who take part in its vast social network. And more importantly and pertinent to us forum owners, MySpace has over 1 million "groups". What is a group? A group is a forum like the one you run; only not quite as advanced or userfriendly. Yet. Do any of these topics look familiar?
Does this general look ring a bell?
Where have you seen something like this before?
This could be from any forum on the net.
MySpace was purchased last year by News Corp (parent company of Fox) for $580 million dollars. News Corp didn't purchase MySpace to let it stagnate. You can rest assured that they are pouring vast resources into it as they work to improve every facet, including groups. Their software and methodologies will improve, and that will lead to increased use of groups as forums rather than spam/advertising mediums.
Ask your forum members why they are a member of MySpace. The usual answers are, "because everyone else is" or "because my friends are". And if all of their friends are a member of the local MySpace Mustang group, you can rest assured the chance of them joining or staying at yours is slim to none.
MySpace is far from the only threat forum owners face. Do you own a sports forum? Nike and Google recently teamed up on Joga.com which is a Soccer social networking site. Two titans of industry with vast resources at their disposal. Do you really think that they will stop at Soccer? Do you own a car forum? Check out CarSpace.com. Edmunds has created a CAR social networking site.
Can small forum owners survive the behemoths who are taking notice of the power of the online community? Will the mom and pop operated communities be run into the ground like when Wal Mart opens in a small locale? Know and never underestimate your competition. Especially when your competition is MySpace, Google, Nike, Edmunds, and other huge internet companies.