I own a few *watch something online* sites and they are all going well, but I don*t think of them as some kind of community sites like forum. So let*S just say i am really noobish in forum sites.
I want to start forum about something I like(the topic of forum doesn*t matter now, lets just say it is popular but there already are a few of that kind of forum) . I have been reading articles about starting a forum community for some time but I haven*t found anything useful except that the most important and hardest thing is to get let*s say about first 100 active members. I have like 10 friends who would start it together with me so that should make it easier. But except hiring some forum posters, and getting a nice skin I don*t know what else could i do to attract people. So can you please tell me or point me to some useful article what to do, what are the most important steps for setting up community?
Getting content and visitors is definitely very important. One thing to keep in mind is that not only do you need a way to attract people (advertising elsewhere), but you also need a way to keep them there. One way to do this is to get attention-grabbing content. Another way is to hold contests for visitors. You could offer a bigger prize in correlation to how many people are competing, encouraging people to get more to join with them.
Finding the right niche is important, and if you can find a way to cater to a niche that's not yet catered to, the more power to you. With the right marketing techniques, I think that a forum in any niche can take off.
... and don't forget the policy!
Too loose or too restrictive policy won't build you a community.
The users are the biggest challange of all. As they communicate with eachother, it gets harder to controll the stuff. The best admin shines when two or more cliques are in conflict. Sometimes you just need to throw a valuable user or to use many more.
Think of some value for the best ones who keep others' attention and are the hearth of the community. Perhaps moderators, private emails or pages @yourdomain and such. And don't be afraid to kick even them when someone becomes overproud and cross the line.
Don't be afraid of punks. Sometimes there has to be someone wit weird opinions to spice up a discussion (otherwise the mutual agreements would bore the users to death). As long as he/she is not agressive towards the others of course.
Visitors will not sign up if they do not see activity first. New forums are especially vulnerable to failure because of this. To prevent this from happening, you could try creating multiple accounts yourself and getting your friends to do the same in order to make it seem like there are more members and more discussion. Alternatives to this are hiring a paid-posting service, promoting your forum on other forums, blogs, and social networks, or simply finding more friends.
Also, try to get original content AND members with unique personalities, posting styles, and opinions. Cookie-cutter members and discussions are going to drive visitors away. A "rate the signature of the person above you" thread, for example, won't compel anyone to join.
Take a step back and think "why would anyone register at this forum?". If there are other similar forums you'll have to offer something that's considerably different / better.
Chances are you wont be offering anything different and it will be almost impossible to promote and will eventually fail. If that's the case don't waste your time with it.
I agree with this to a certain extent. Yes, you should try to find your own unqiue niche when starting a forum and offer some sort of gimmick. However, there are staples that are almost aways required on every forum, and one of these is a general discussion forum. A good and active general discussion forum is always welcome, however many general discussion forums there are already on the Internet.
The most important thing though is to make users want to join - give them a NEED to join. A lot of people who will visit a forum will be members on similar forums so you're going to have to think up ways to make yours better then their current hangout as it were.
This will of course depend on the topic of your forum though. You may have a new feature that no other forum has, content no one else has or a different 'type' of forum.
A contest can also be a good way to give your forum a kick start