AskPat 701 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn, here. Welcome to Episode 701 of AskPat. Thank you so much for joining me today. As always, I'm here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week. Today we have an awesome question from Amy.
Before we get to that, I want to thank and mention today's sponsor, which is Tunnelbear. Tunnelbear is a simple VPN app that makes it really easy for you to browse the web privately and enjoy a more open Internet. Here's the thing, if you use public wifi for anything, like at a coffee shop, or at a conference or hotel for example, you're probably weary of snoops or potential hackers that might be sharing the same network, right? Well, that's where Tunnelbear comes in handy to secure your connection and protect your privacy. When Tunnelbear is on, your Internet connection is encrypted. Your IP address is hidden, and your online activity is kept private from your ISP, your Internet service provider, advertisers, hackers, and other snoops. Try Tunnelbear for free with 500 megabytes per month and no credit card required. To get your bear just go to Tunnelbear.com/AskPat.
All right, here's today's question from, Amy.
Amy: Hi, Pat. My name is Amy and I'm the founder of MPH Grads, which is an online community for masters of public health. I have a quick question for you regarding the forum on my website. Like I mentioned, I want this website to become a really viable online community for other professionals in public health. Right now I have a forum that I've created, but it's not getting a lot of traffic. Although my website is getting traffic, the forum has not been used very much. I wanted to ask you if you have advice for getting traffic on a forum. If you would suggest even just getting rid of the forum and trying to do something a group through Facebook or LinkedIn. I appreciate your advice. Thank you. Bye.
Pat Flynn: Hey, Amy. Thanks so much for the question. Forums on websites. This is something that a lot of people are sort of going away from now. Obviously, if you've been in the online space for a while, you would know that forums were actually the big deal back in the day. That's how you would always get people to come back to your website. That's where you could have conversations and build relationships. How people could become a part of the community. I don't know about you, but for me, I know that I've stayed around on some sites. I've actually continued to pay monthly for some programs because of the communities that are there.
I really appreciate this question, Amy. Forum traffic is dead on your website. I've experienced that myself in the past. There's a lot that goes into keeping a forum active. The last thing you want is a ghost town. Especially when new members come in, they see the last active post was two months ago, they're not going to want to participate. There's a number of things you can do to get your people kind of speaking, and engaging, and have them be alive again.
I have been a part of forums that have done very well. All of them have a lot of people who are in charge in terms of asking questions and getting community members to respond. Actually getting community members to share their success stories. Just having it be very structured in that way with the different kinds of threads. Those are things that are also inspirational to those who are coming on, and just looking around and discovering whether or not this is a place they would want to be. The hard thing is today, is competing against platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn, like you said. The big question is, is it worth having a forum on your website that is going to take a lot more effort to get people to subscribe to and participate in? Plus, depending on the forum software you use, typically it's not going to be quite as good as notifying members on new conversations, or replies, or things like that. As most of us know, Facebook and LinkedIn that's what they're good at. They're good at the social part of those communities. That's really important.
If you want to keep your forum, I know there's a lot of benefit there, like I had mentioned earlier. You really have to make it incredibly valuable to stay there, and give people a reason to sign up. Give people a reason to stay and communicate. If that reason isn't there beyond just being a part of the community, then I would then move everything over to Facebook and not even worry about the forum anymore. I know my buddy Chris Ducker is shaking his head right now. I hope he agrees with me. The reason I say that is because he's just been completely an advocate of somebody who says, “You've got to own your own traffic. You've got to keep it on your own website, your communities.” Imagine building a community on Facebook, and then all of a sudden Facebook, even though they're not going to go away tomorrow, maybe they go away someday. That community that you've been building up is going to be just not worth as much anymore.
The same thing happened for people with Facebook pages. Facebook pages used to be all the rage and then Facebook . . . We can't really determine what Facebook does . . . but they changed the algorithm on their own, almost without warning. We lose all of our reach for our posts. I understand where they're coming from, but again, we don't have any control of that. Keeping your own forum active on your own website is the best option. However, it is now always possible because, unless it's completely active, unless there are reasons to go there, then you're fighting a losing battle.
In many cases I would suggest heading over to Facebook and creating a secret group there, or private group. Or LinkedIn as well. LinkedIn I know has great groups for your particular industry. LinkedIn could be the one. MPHGrads.com is your website. I just want to give you a quick shout out for that. It is more of a professional kind of website so LinkedIn could be the place to go to be able to foster that community. To engage in conversations and have people get to know each other too. I think, my answer for you specifically, without knowing any more details about what you do in the forum and what it is you're doing right now to try to keep it active, I would suggest moving over to LinkedIn or Facebook. Whichever one that you feel would be best for your audience.
I would make a big announcement about it and share why so the people who do use the forum. There maybe a few of them who relied on that and they might be upset, but you're doing what's best for your community. You're also doing what's best for you. I'm sure it's taking up a lot of time, taking up a lot of effort to keep that forum however much active it is now. Just imagine the weight off of your shoulders knowing that that part is done. You also have people speaking under you in your community in a site where people are going to get notified, where they're more comfortable speaking they're likely to engage more. Again, hopefully you can see that there is a lot of benefit to going to Facebook and LinkedIn too.
I would say with response to what Chris was talking about earlier, or what I had said Chris was talking about earlier, owning your own peeps, I would definitely do what I can on Facebook and LinkedIn to get people onto your email list. That would be the number one goal. No matter where those communities are, make sure those people are on your email list so that if Facebook does go away, or if LinkedIn does drop their communities or groups, you'd still be able to reach those people and create a new group somewhere else. Amy, there you go. Thank you so much for the question. I appreciate you. I want to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show.
For everybody else listening, if you have a question that you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com and you can ask right there on that page. Thanks so much.
Let's also thank today's sponsor, which is Tunnelbear. That VPN that you can use to privately browse the Internet, especially if you are away at like a conference or a coffee shop of something. You never know, there might be hackers out there trying to get into your stuff. Make it safe for yourself. Try Tunnelbear for free with 500 megabytes per month and no credit card required. To get your bear just visit Tunnelbear.com/AskPat.
As always, we like to finish off the show by sharing a quote. This is a good one. This one comes from Maureen Dowd. “The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.”
Think about that. I'll see you guys in the next episode. Cheers.
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