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Choosing what forum to build

Choosing what forum to build

Ok, so a lot of people are really into forums, for a number of reasons.   Sometimes it is just for meeting new people who have similar interests.  A forum is a great way of learning from your community, and also generating community driven content.  There has been discussion that forums are going out of fashion, other then the many that have an existing user-base.  This may be true to some extent, however this is not to say that forums cannot compete with social media by implementing social-media style functionality.  Xenforo is a forum software which has many “social media” “style” features by default.

Why build a forum?

1. Build a forum in a certain niche to make money
2. Build a forum around your expertise, knowledge, experience
3. Build a forum around your interest, hobby, passion
4. Build a forum to create a community for your website visitors to share their knowledge and experiences
5. Build a forum because you are looking to develop friendships with other like minded people
6. Build a forum as a means of product support

7. Build a forum to learn and for education purposes (maybe share ideas to make money) :p

8.  Build a forum to create “community driven” content.  Good examples of these are www.hotukdeals.com, and www.moneysavingexpert.com.  You might start to get angry if you visit HUKD, because essentially their content is 99% produced by members and almost every post is monetized with affiliate links.  The best part is, the content is being created for you.  However HUKD do produce a lot of their own content with side-websites, and moderate/create the scripts and API’s, so it is not exactly exploitation.  However it is a very good business model to follow.

 

There are a number of popular forum softwares around:

Of which MyBB and Phpbb are among the most popular free forums, however Phpbb is out of date and difficult to modify and slowly becoming further removed from current internet trends.

The most popular paid forum softwares are Vbulletin, IPB and xenforo, which we use! And we do love xenforo!  If you can afford it, it is definitely worth the upgrade.  You can always come and check it out on our forum, to see for yourself.    Xenforo has a very friendly back-end administration and easy customization.  This is pretty much the same for Vbulletin and IPB, however there are some differences between each, essentially however, to create a forum similar to xenforo, VB, or IPB with phpbb or mybb is much more challenging.

Forums take quite some time:

To create an active forum does not happen quickly, there are already many established forums around and to break in as a new contender is very hard.  You want to try and restrict the number of forum categories that you have, provide high quality content, lock content from guests such as download links or the number of posts that a guest can view.  You may find that social media is in-fact a better way of getting people to interact quicker.

What forums do the best?

There are in fact certain forums that do better then others, when being a “new contender”.  What do you mean? Well, essentially the idea is, to build a forum surrounding something that is new and people are talking about.  For example:

New amazon Kindle

New phones

New technology

New games

New celebrity’s

General forums such as technology/programming/photography are more challenging as there are already forums that cover these topics.  However you may often find that new products are a great place to build a targeted forum, and more importantly.  MONETIZE, your forum with affiliate links, banners etc..  So say perhaps, a new game is coming out, you could provide a place for people to share tutorials, tactics, and even before the game comes out, talking about what they want to see in the game, rumors etc..  Now the idea is to advertise for people to pre-order the game.

Beware!!

Forums are time consuming to keep active and to fill with members, guests to a blog don’t know how many other people are looking at that blog, however guests to a forum do.  The best types of forums are specific subjects which a lot of people are talking about.

 

Go Mobile!

One way we can compete with the social media giants, is to go mobile, and in a cool way too!  Tapatalk is an incredible way of converting your forum into mobile form, for free, and published within the tapatalk forum directory.  It is used by 1000’s people and forums, and works with many forum sotwares.  Try it out!! www.tapatalk.com

Written by OIiver

Oliver is a 20 year old web-enthusiast and entrepreneur from the UK. He enjoys Marketing, SEO, Technology and Business.

  • Matt

    Don’t forget Simple Machines Forums, which requires more hackin’ around for your preferred outcome but is much more powerful then MyBB and phpBB, simply because of the great array of options to suite you best. It’s open source, so you can yourself work on it (make plugins in most etc.) so if there is something lacking, it isn’t just a closed opportunity, plus it’s very extensible, therefore you can link in databases (aka commerce, game, blog etc. to forum)- a lot of bridges already exist for popular platforms like WordPress and Drupal.

    I do like XenForo a lot, mind you. But really the innovation from it is just something SMF can and is striving for already.

  • http://www.forumotion.com Wildcard

    Good article, you just forgot a lot of good forums softwares and hosting services.

    The best of them is Forumotion cause it’s simple, you create your forum easily and quickly.
    It’s a good choice for people who are beginner and also for the insiders who can customize it at will.