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  • Freddy Fix

Create a forum and build your own online community

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

It is safe to say that forums have been around since the beginning of time. Well, more like the beginning of the internet (which is basically the same thing). Online forums allow virtual communities to come together to share knowledge and enthusiasm. By adding an online forum to your site, you can significantly increase user engagement and expand your online community. In addition, it is valuable to create a forum to increase the content of your site and add an element of fun for the visitors of the site.

In this article, we will introduce the features of the Wix Forum, as well as dive into the benefits of adding a forum to your site and the best steps to do so. Like other features of the Wix website builder, setting up your forum is easy, intuitive and free.

Meet Wix Forum - your community builder

After adding the Wix Forum app to your site in the Wix Editor, you can easily customize the layout, set up admin features, and define the content and interests of your community. Here are some highlights that make Wix Forum so good:

  1. It is 100% mobile friendly, with a beautiful mobile design.

  2. Users register, log in and participation is easy and intuitive.

  3. You can choose a classic forum layout or a fancy card screen - both layouts can be customized.

  4. A rich text editor allows you and your forum members to add beautiful posts, including photos.

  5. Managing the forum is easy, so it requires minimal effort to be an administrator.

  6. Each member is given a profile page documenting their forum activity.

Why create a forum in the first place?

There are many reasons to create a forum or a forum site. Believe it or not, forum members are not strictly identified with Justin Bieber fans or Minecraft enthusiasts. If you search online, you will find thriving forums dedicated to almost every theme or niche, from military history to interior design.

The primary benefit of creating a forum is to build a community around a common interest. Your forum will give this community a space to exchange ideas, compare experiences and also enjoy a conversation with people who share a particular profession, hobby or worldview.

An online forum also opens a new communication channel between the site owner and site visitors. Newsletters and website commentary are great for engaging visitors, but both tend to emphasize one side of the discussion. A forum, on the other hand, allows for user engagement that is more open and organic. The forum moderator or administrator retains control of the platform, but an eye-level discussion is free to develop as long as participants adhere to the rules.

Finally, creating a forum can improve your site's SEO. Think of it as an additional source of site content that can be indexed by search engines. As long as it is active, and as long as your members make good contributions to the discussion, the forum mainly creates frequent, high-quality content that search engines love.

How to create a forum

Now that you know the benefits of adding a forum to your site, let's discuss the steps you need to take to get started. To create a forum:

  1. Select a forum software

  2. Define the forum theme

  3. Be clear on the rules

  4. Encourage active participation

  5. Promote your forum regularly

  6. Enhance your forum with special features

01. Select a forum software

You can start creating a forum by simply selecting a forum software. By choosing a forum maker that fully integrates with your professional website, you can build interest in your website and keep website visitors engaged in your project, organization, or brand.

02. Define the forum theme

Think about the specific topics that bring your members together and that can give them a common sense of community. What issues are important, useful or entertaining in their eyes? Choose a general topic that resonates with your audience, and set up different discussion threads by creating forum categories.

03. Be clear on the rules

As a forum administrator, you need to set the tone and find out what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior in your community. Create an introductory post showing the rules of the community, then post the post to the top of a forum category.

04. Encourage active participation

Forums thrive on discussion. If your members are just passive observers, there will not be much action going on. You can encourage them to participate by asking questions, commenting on others' posts, or asking for a particular member's opinion. Try to get a sense of what makes your members respond, whether it's opening up a compelling discussion, starting a poll, or reviewing events that are relevant to your community.

You can also encourage users to ask questions by creating a Q&A forum. This helps strengthen your forum community by letting members build discussions organically and learn from each other's insights. It's also a useful way for brands to create a support channel, talk about new releases and build personal relationships with customers.

05. Promote your forum regularly

When you first create a forum, you need to attract as many new members as possible by marketing your forum on external platforms. Use your personal or business social media channels to highlight specific threads and, if any members are particularly active, ask them to promote your forum on their own networks. If you run a newsletter, use it to invite subscribers to visit the forum. You can also increase your engagement by sending out alerts that update all members on new posts, replies and likes.

06. Enhance your forum with special features

Once you've learned the basics of creating a forum, you can add more value to users with special features that benefit both you and your community.

First, you can reward participants with membership tags as they go from new users to forum experts. This increases the involvement of community members, as it encourages them to participate consistently in forum discussions. You can customize badges to match the look and feel or your website, as well as assign different badges for different roles (eg teacher and student).

Second, you can make money on your forum by making pricing plans. This means limiting the forum access to selected members. While it's a good idea to keep some conversations open for general access, you can offer exclusive memberships to categories that fit a specific niche.

Best practices for creating a forum

The ongoing contribution of content from forum members is what gives a forum its character. Here are the most effective ways to maintain a vibrant, dynamic online community.

  • Stay on track: A sense of shared interest among participants is the glue that holds your community together. Make sure the discussions you start, the questions you raise, and the visuals you upload are directly related to the forum topic.

  • No upper thread: Creating multiple discussion threads with different focus points is a great way to create a forum, but you should be careful about setting up too many of them. When too many threads are available, visitors (especially first-time visitors) can be overwhelmed. Too many topics can also lead to a situation where some threads have very little conversation in them. It is better to limit the options and keep a lively discussion going.

  • Make it beautiful: While forums thrive on words, appearance and feel are also important. Make sure your forum is consistent with the design of the site in general, as members will feel more at home in a forum that is visually appealing, user-friendly and resonates with their interests. By customizing layouts, fonts, colors and more, you can design your forum in a way that reflects your project or brand and attracts new members.

  • Be an administrator present: As the forum administrator, you have a responsibility to actively participate and contribute your own content to the community discussions. Be proactive, answer questions, start conversations and encourage community members to share their thoughts.

  • Stay informed: As an administrator, you must also demonstrate expertise and authority in your field. Keeping up to date with the latest news, developments and trends will help you add high quality content to your community and keep members interested in what you have to say. Make your forum a reliable source of information and your community will reward you with traffic.

How to maintain a strong forum site

When considering how to create a forum, think not only about the content you want to include, but also about the practices you need to avoid. As any experienced forum administrator will tell you, you need to stay alert to keep your forum up and running. Remember to check regularly for the following items, as this will ensure a safe, friendly and positive community:

  • Spammers: Spam content is not only annoying, but it can cause SEO problems. Search engines like Google can penalize you for spam on your site if you do not weed them out.

  • Trolls: As a forum administrator, you are responsible for ensuring that all forum members are safe, and you owe it to them to keep trolls away.

  • Uninspiring content: Make sure the discussions that take place on your forum remain interesting, fun and engaging. The key is to stay engaged as an administrator for your forum. If you regularly participate in discussions, take a proactive approach, address relevant and interesting issues, and recognize valuable and contributing members, you will give your community a forum they will love.

Freddy Fix borrowed from Wix

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