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Keeping forums relevant in social media age?
by kevcj
09 Dec 2017 15:53

Several years ago I visited all the typical webmaster and blogging forums. Took a break from the forums for a few years, came back and was surprised at how much traffic had dropped to those types of communities.

It seems traffic to forums that deal with blogging and forum development has dropped a LOT. Why is that? Are fewer people building websites? Or, are those people hanging out in places I do not know about?

Facebook and places like reddit have taken a toll on forums, but surely they still have a place?

What can forum owners do to compete with the large social media and social networking sites?

Highly specialized forums seem to be doing good. For example I belong to a metal detecting forum. At any given time the forum has over 1,000 members logged in. A Toyota forum I visit stays pretty busy.

This leads me to believe less people are visiting forums like vbulletinb.org, vbulletin.com... because less people ae building forums and websites.

In Omnibus 09 Dec 2017 18:24

A forum is just a communication tool. The main difference between forums and social media is the ability to limit the discussion to specific content and to control the amount of garbage which enters the conversation. Facebook and Reddit are steaming piles of manure when it comes to trying to keep a group or a discussion on-topic. Facebook doesn't even allow content to be sorted by date or last reply or anything else. Forums still have a place for those looking for niche specific focused content and discussion. While the trend toward mindless, meaningless "look at me" type content has prevailed the least several years it is likely a fad that will end at some point, when people grow tired of everyone talking and no one listening. When that happens the forum type community will make a comeback in popularity.

Dave 09 Dec 2017 19:36

I feel like forums that have existed for a long time or its subject is very specific are ones that are still popular. People starting a new forum about something general usually end up being a ghost town.

RichieBoy67 11 Dec 2017 15:44

There is no doubt that social sites have taken a toll on forums but social sites can also be used to promote your forum. On average nearly 20% of my traffic comes from social sites.

kevcj 11 Dec 2017 17:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by RichieBoy67 (Post 2591548)
On average nearly 20% of my traffic comes from social sites.

How targeted is that 20% traffic?

My google analytics shows facebook has some of the worst bounce rates of any other source.

Reddit traffic is probably the worst. They come in for a few seconds, then leave.

RichieBoy67 11 Dec 2017 17:17

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591549)
How targeted is that 20% traffic?

My google analytics shows facebook has some of the worst bounce rates of any other source.

Reddit traffic is probably the worst. They come in for a few seconds, then leave.

The bounce rate is not the best but I do get conversions and in my stores I get sales.

In terms of the forums I am not talking about paid promos with targeting. I am talking about using a fan page to promote certain posts and content, using groups, etc. Granted nobody is going to jump right into Facebook and get traffic like that. It takes time to build followers but the more followers you have, the better your traffic.

BTW - To get to 20% takes a couple hours per day at least and this is an average I am estimating across all of my sites, some of which are not forums. And to build some of these followers on some pages I did have to use paid promos through facebook.

I have used Reddit paid promos in the past but I never had time to build any organic traffic from Reddit. It can be done but it is very niche oriented and time consuming. I mainly use Facebook, Twitter and Instagram though I also get traffic daily from Youtube and Pinterest.

Prince 16 May 2018 18:22

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591518)
What can forum owners do to compete with the large social media and social networking sites?

great question. :confused:

ethanscott 12 Jun 2018 11:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by Prince (Post 2594762)
great question. :confused:

Maybe add a few interactive features or a gaming section maybe.

TheLastSuperman 22 Jun 2018 15:52

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591518)
What can forum owners do to compete with the large social media and social networking sites?

Since some others are replying to old threads, figured I'd do the same and jump off the bridge with them, weeeeeeee! I still <3 you guys and gals!

What can help forum owners compete with Social media... games? Unique site features (what is unique these days?)

The ONLY three things that can maintain a forum in my personal opinion are:
- Unique content.
- Consistent participation.
- The "need" for this forum i.e. if you're going to make a Radio Controlled Car site, there are already many of those... if you do not post unique content and don't participate on your forum daily to make others do the same, your R/C forum won't be anything extraordinary and will just fall short.

So you can create a forum but if you're not going to upkeep it and participate or at least have a steady moderator who does the same then you won't be keeping up with social media anytime soon. To keep your forum relevant you could do integrations related to the social media platform you're targeting i.e. if you find your site spoken about on facebook regulary then by all means make a page for your forum on facebook with information about it, add modifications and plugins that help your members easily see content on facebook and such.

The sky is the limit, so is your imagination as to what you can do with your forum, if you're not being creative (or at least clever in a sense) then you're never going to keep up with social media or be relevant in said social media when the forum is "lacking" due to having copy and pasted content and/or not a lot of active daily members.

webmastersun 22 Jun 2018 17:11

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591518)
Several years ago I visited all the typical webmaster and blogging forums. Took a break from the forums for a few years, came back and was surprised at how much traffic had dropped to those types of communities.

Are you sure you have visited all webmaster forums? have you visited my webmaster forum https://www.webmastersun.com/ ?after years my forum traffic is still increasing and improving daily with new members and posts.

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591518)
It seems traffic to forums that deal with blogging and forum development has dropped a LOT. Why is that? Are fewer people building websites? Or, are those people hanging out in places I do not know about?

Because forum owners just built forums for themselves without building for what users need or a community needs, or lacks of marketing and SEO.

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591518)
Facebook and places like reddit have taken a toll on forums, but surely they still have a place?

What can forum owners do to compete with the large social media and social networking sites?

My forum is getting less traffic from social networks, ~63% traffic came from search engines, social is only 1% although my forum has thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter or Linkedin. I still am concentrating on social networks but prefer using SEO and marketing techniques.

https://www.vbulletin.org/forum/external/2018/06/1.jpg

templaters 08 Nov 2018 22:58

I have been using vbulletin to build a few forums over the years.

I have had great exceptional success in a couple of them , over 5 million hits per month with 70 plus paid advertisers. I did not pay for traffic just dedicated members.


Rules for success = The forum must be unique. That means loyal users.

Games , chat rooms etc don't help a forum.

You must have constant updated content and the best content is provided by users.

You must have a real easy to remember domain name.

Finally try to have a forum about something that you and others can have a long interesting conversation about and not be boring.

Selfies, social media events are all boring. You are competing with millions of others.

Now if you had a forum on how to make buggy whips that would be unique.

Otis :)

unbrakochaz 01 Mar 2019 19:29

Quote:

Originally Posted by templaters (Post 2597288)
over 5 million hits per month

This seems highly unlikely, unless your the BBC news or similar

romaine 12 Mar 2019 07:09

Quote:

Originally Posted by kevcj (Post 2591518)
It seems traffic to forums that deal with blogging and forum development has dropped a LOT. Why is that? Are fewer people building websites? Or, are those people hanging out in places I do not know about?

You are right, my forum dropped a lot traffic recent months and I could not do more to improve it, seem Google and other search engines are changing and everyone likes building websites than forums.

pmwpaul 01 Apr 2019 19:26

Only certain social media platforms allow the interaction that a forum with a thread format does. FB is OK but the rest seem inappropriate eg Twitter, Instgram

kevbifs 10 May 2019 18:40

On social media threads soon disappear down the timeline and can't be accessed in a heirarchical way


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