This article is aimed at promoting the importance of content.
Getting members to read, respond and return.
I honestly believe some forum administrators think content comes from members alone and if they plan, develop and design their communities that members will miraculously appear and start posting those quality posts admins dream about that will get them noticed by the larger search engines and listed/ranked well.
If this is you i'm afraid to say you are wrong!
Personally I would not launch a forum until every individual forum on the board has at LEAST 15-20 threads within it giving guests a reason to stick around, read, reply and return. I would also make sure at least three different usernames (be it fake ids or via a post exchange program) had responded to the threads creating the impression of interest and activity.
So you do not look like a loner ask friends to register and help you add content - if you really are alone, then make 4 user accounts and post under different names, join a post exchange, pay for posters - create the impression of activity.
Types of content:
The information highway is at your fingertips - google is your friend and a most valuable tool - use it, abuse it!
The type of content will vary to match your theme but here's a general guide;
*Remember to source the content and check T.O.S and copyrights! Also be careful of duplicating content.
*Remember you are setting the standards be it in tone or quality of content - this is on your shoulders. If you want a formal community, post formally, etc if you want a more relaxed area reflect that in your posting style..
When adding content bear in mind your desire to start and prolong discussions..
You can do this by asking questions relating to the content --- make it clear you want people to participate in the thread -- invite them -- reply to them -- ask more questions --- invite others --- reply to others --- ask more questions... work it work it work it.........and before you know it *pow* you have a decent discussion and an active thread --- now go and do it in all your threads, and participate in threads made by others -- showing your interest will encourage others to show you their's
This is not an easy task but vital for the new community. It will take hours each and every day and if you are not willing to put in the effort i doubt your project will 'kick off'. Forum building needs dedication, commitment and most of all, enthusiasm. This is why you should chose your theme wisely - you need to have a huge interest in the subject otherwise you will tire of it very quickly.
Now you have added lots of content and worked at thread participation you may find that........
"WOOT! I have a little activity......"
DO NOT fall asleep -- content needs adding constantly whether you have 100 members or 10000 --- as an admin you need to show your passion for your community to gain members respect... why should they build your forum alone?
Encourage your handpicked staff to follow your example. Add content application to your moderators guidelines - show them from the start what you expect from someone bearing a staff title so there are no misunderstandings in the future.
Ask team members to add a little content everyday, or once a week. Deligate forums to each team member, encourage them, help them...
You are 'the' example - remember that!
Content changes all the time. A new software needs reviews, new films need views....
Use 'my favorites'
Save decent content sites so you can find them daily or weekly to refresh your content.. Everything spreads around the net so quick - be the forum to show a new video clip first, be the first to announce latest news relating to your theme/topic, be the first to add new pictures - BE the no1 resource for your subject -- keep a step ahead of the rest and this alone will make your community the one to be at --- think about it -- if people can get a heap of information and resources in one great spot that looks great, is active, is well managed, has the freshest content -- why would they go elsewhere?
Remember the three 'R's' Read, Respond, Return - this is your aim for every member who registers on your site. You need to ensure they have new, interesting content to read, respond to and return for.