How to run a successful forum: Getting Members and Posts

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Shawn Gossman, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. Shawn Gossman

    Shawn Gossman The Motormouth

    How to run a successful forum: Getting Members and Posts
    BY: Shawn J. Gossman (

    Welcome to another one of my How to run a successful forum articles. In this article, I will be identifying ways for community administrators to get more members and posts on their community. These various ways are methods that I have experienced over my 10 years of messing around with forum administration. You may post this article on your own website as long as you keep my name and TAZ link attached. This article is copyright 2009 by myself, Shawn Joseph Gossman.

    Getting More Members

    Lets say you have an empty forum with you and maybe one other staff member. Now you need to build a membership database so that you forum can start to grow. There are many different ways of doing this. You can do a "fake" way with fake accounts and post/membership exchanges or you can try to do a natural way and get more real members to join up. Either way will help you in the long run.

    Fake Members

    Fake members would be users that you and your staff create. Most people just create fake users and leave them be without any posts. Other create fake users and give them a few posts so that it looks like the user is somewhat or has been active at some point. I think making fake members is an okay method but you need to give them posts or they will look just that, fake. Once you start to get an active membership database going, you can retire from using your fake members. Remember if a regular member befriend a fake member, you may be obligated to keep posting with that fake member to keep that regular member interested in your community, that could be a downfall especially if later down the road, the real member finds out it is a fake member. That is the main downfall with any fake members, real member finding out they are fake and may not being able to trust the community anymore. Keep this in mind if you plan to use the fake member method.

    Post/Membership Exchange

    Another way to get more users and content/posts at that is having posting and membership exchanges. A post exchange is where an owner of a different forum joins your forum and posts X amount of new topics and/or posts on your community and in return, you join their community and post as much posts as they gave to yours. Post exchange numbers vary but are usually quick and that member usually never returns to your forum unless you request another exchange with them. A membership exchange is the same except it is ongoing or basically you remain and active member on their forum and they remain an active member on your forum. This forum of exchange is the best I have found but can present issues with not having enough time to keep up with the exchange at times. Other exchanges include exchanging links which could help you get more members as well and exchanging registrations which means you join a forum and that forum's owner joins yours, no posts just a registration exchange. This method is not my favorite but any way counts I suppose.

    Getting Natural Members

    Getting natural members is a very good way to get real members without having to exchange posts and create fake members. But this method can be a great task for many forum owners because you have to convince people to join your forum and be active. The best way to go about doing this is by joining forum promotion forums and forum resource forums like and getting your site out to other members. You may also want to join forums that are related to your forum and add your forum's link to your signature. Take note to read other forum's rules as some may not allow forum links to be in signatures. That brings me to a main rule in getting more members, DO NOT SPAM PEOPLE! You should also build up your back links and try to get good ranking in search engines so that your community is first when searched. The quicker people can see your community in search, the quicker they can join it before they join another one that is far behind your search engine ranking.

    Keeping a Forum Active

    Keep you forum active by keeping fresh content on it. Make it a habbit for you and your staff to post 10 topics a week and 20 replies a week on your forum. This will keep it full of ongoing conversations and fresh discussions so that members have something to jump in to. You may also want to consider giving your first few members some form of "thank you" status. I give my first 8 members on my weather forum free Premium Membership for life calling them founding members. It seems to keep them coming back because they feel somewhat important, which they should because they helped build up the community.

    This is it for this article. I hope you enjoyed it. Please show your support for this article by replying with your comments and adding more tips for others. The next article in this series will be about security of your forum, staff and members. Have a great day!
    • Like Like x 2
  2. Sirius

    Sirius Neophyte

    Great Advice!

    That is some great advice! Thank you, I just recently opened up my first forum, and frankly, I never knew so much was invovled in it. Cheers, I'm going to be applying some of this sage wisdom to the administration of my forum.

  3. devilishsaint

    devilishsaint Enthusiast

    I was looking for these kind of guidelines from many days ultimately found it here thanks for posting.
  4. lawstudent

    lawstudent Aspirant

    Great article,

    I do think you should mention paid posters, it is another way to get members, keep the forum active and have real although paid members. The downside is that you need to keep paying to keep them coming back, the upside is that you have an active forum and a growing membership base.

    One thing though, I have tried at least 8 paid services and always needed a refund, until recently, I found a good one.

    Thanks for the article.
  5. Shawn Gossman

    Shawn Gossman The Motormouth

    Feel free to share what service that was :)
  6. lawstudent

    lawstudent Aspirant

  7. dlawhh

    dlawhh Can I have a cookie?


    We strive to make sure that what our writers are doing for our clients would be up to the same standards that we would want on our own forums! Don't forget that you get what you pay for-and with us you pay for a top quality service that offers fast communication and custom packages to meet your needs. I am sure that lawstudent can vouch for this. :)

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  8. major

    major Participant

    jeez, looking at the prices for paid posters i think i will set myself up as a poster for small fee.
  9. cpvr

    cpvr Tazmanian Master

    Natural members are the best - especially if they find out about your site from other top posters - or are involved in your niche.

    Members come and go, but one thing is for certain - your loyal members will stick around, tell their friends, and bam; you have more natural members.
  10. eugene_x

    eugene_x Neophyte

    Just want to let you know that there is a software package that automates this process
    Activity Traffic Generator
    Right now it's available for phpbb3 only but they can add support of other forum engines for small fee (or sometimes for free, if the engine is popular).

    In addition to registering new users the softare also immitates their activity: users go online/offline, view threads, etc.
  11. Joshuad

    Joshuad Developer

    Using a dummy account is one thing, but how can you expect to monitor your traffic outside of some analytics program? How can you tell when your forums are growing they way they should or if it's just automated traffic?
  12. ZeroFade

    ZeroFade Aspirant

  13. phoen1x

    phoen1x Aspirant

    Truly informative article for a beginner and experienced alike .
  14. hasan_am09

    hasan_am09 Neophyte

    im looking for that kind of advice for my plan and your guideline give me a cool way, thanks
  15. aidyUK

    aidyUK Aspirant

    thanks for this i just started my first forum (smf 2.0 rc4) and need help getting it kick started
  16. BrandonSheley

    BrandonSheley loving life

  17. Nando de mo

    Nando de mo Adherent

    This was made before 2010. I will say, it's a lot more challenging now in the 10s than it was in the previous decade. Getting people interested is increasingly more work. Depending on what the niche is, you will have to inspire activity if you want your forum to be active.