AskPat 742 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up everybody? Pat Flynn here and welcome to Episode 742 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.
All right, now here's today's question from Andy.
Andy: Hi Pat, my name's Andy Boychuk and first of all, thank you very much for all work you do. And I have a website, it’s called Immigrant Porada, it's website for Ukrainian immigrants in America. And I'm planning to launch a forum soon and my question is, how do you make the new forum active like first day or first week, so when people visiting, they don't see like no activities on the forum? I read your post about how to keep a forum extremely active, and there are good advices and I will use them in the future. But they talk about already active forums. So my question is like, how do you make people be active first day or first week? Thank you, bye.
Pat Flynn: Hey Andy, thank you so much for the question. I appreciate you. And yeah, you're right. I've had posts and information before about how to keep a forum active, but what do you do when you first start a forum? That's a fantastic question and hopefully I can help you out here.
Now the first thing I want to ask you is, why do you want to create a forum in the first place? Most people when they answer that question is, well, they want to create a community. Well, obviously that's a very important thing, especially if you have a course or have a website and you want to get people together and start talking. But many people will then ask you, well why not just create a Facebook group?
A Facebook group is a great tool you can use because a lot of people are already on Facebook and it makes it really easy because that platform's already there. People know how to use it, they don't have to log in to anything new or create a new login name or anything like that. There are a lot of barriers when it comes to starting a forum, which I feel is a big issue. And of course, like you said, you don't want crickets or a ghost town in there when people first enter because then they will leave and never come back. And that's the last thing you want. It's actually quite a lot a bit of work to put a forum together, which is why a lot of people are going to Facebook.
Now, I'm thinking about what my good buddy Chris Ducker would say and he says, “Well, if you want to build a community, you don't want to let a third party service like Facebook have control over it. Because what if Facebook gets rid of groups? What if Facebook decides to control how people get notified in the groups? And you lose control of that. And if you're launching a forum, especially if it's the backbone of your business, or major part of it, then that's an issue.” And I agree with Chris. I think it's important to have a community that you can control but at the same time Facebook makes it really easy to start a community and that's where people end up going. And of course Facebook makes it really simple to message and reply and get tracked or keep track of all those things. That being said, I think if possible a forum on your own website that you control would be the best scenario. The only issue is, well, getting people to use it.
So, going with a software that is really easy to use is going to be really important. And I think it's a good idea to just keep that in mind, depending on what software you use. But the other thing is that you want a lot of people there on day one. So what I would do is even before the forum starts is you begin to collect email addresses and get people excited about it. You get people informed, you talk about maybe making it an event essentially, where the community can finally come together. And you want everyone on day one to start messaging and posting things and that would be great.
What I would do is also reach out to five or ten people in your community that you know already who are sort of power users and even appoint them admins and have them become moderators. Somebody that has a little bit more power. They can you know, delete spam and other things that they can do in the forum just so they feel like they have a little bit of ownership. And then ask those people to start threads or start responding and be very active on that day. I think day one is going to be especially important because you want people to always come back.
So what I would do is get a bunch of people excited. Get a few people to be moderators and get them to sort of take ownership and begin to start posting more often, at least right from the start. Give them a little bit of thank you for that and perhaps a little bit of incentive if possible. But beyond that I would also make sure that people when they first get in there have a post or a thread where people can introduce themselves. Talk about, you know ask them a few questions on where they're from, what their experience is, if there's any helpful information. Whatever you want to do to break the ice, essentially. That's something you can do and a lot of people who start courses, they have forums. I know a lot of membership sites have forums inside their websites as well. And typically the first question they ask is, “Hey, you know if you're new here introduce yourself.” And then also, a cool thing to do is have like a welcoming committee. This could be another responsibility of yourself or a few people like moderators in your forum.
So when people share that they're new, and they're responding to that thread, have people respond to them specifically. So that they see immediately that they're being listened to. That's why communities are important. Because people like to go to places where they can be listened to and know that somebody's listening. This is where sometimes social media can work against us, because we have something to share. We don't necessarily know that we're talking to the right people or we don't even know if people are seeing our tweets or Facebook posts now. So that's why a forum is great.
And one other thing you can do is have some sort of reason for people to come back. So for example, having some sort of contest or something where midweek after you launch there's some event or something that happens. Maybe a Q&A or something. You know, Ask Me Anything on Reddit, those are very popular within these membership forums and communities as well, because it gets people to be in there at a specific time and be active and start participating and so on and so forth. Another thing you can do to keep people coming back, especially right from the start, is to share wins from the community. So have your community members share and become maybe a part of the spotlight to be able to share their wins and things that they've been doing so that other people will come in and comment and respond and reply.
You can also take bits and pieces from your public website and share them and start to have a discussion about those things in your forum, too. So a lot of things you can do to get people active right from the start, but it's going to be really important to engage them initially. Have them understand they're in the right place that they'll keep coming back.
So hopefully that makes sense, Andy, and I want to wish you all the best of luck. Thank you so much for calling in. And I want to send you an AskPat t-shirt for having your question featured here on the show.
And for those of you 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. Thank you so much, I appreciate you.
And for everybody out there listening to AskPat you know we're almost at Thanksgiving. I just want to take a quick moment just to thank you so much for all of your support for SPI and for AskPat. And if you have a second, head on over to iTunes and leave a review for AskPat. I hardly ever ask for them and I know I should probably ask for them more. But if you are listening to the show and you have yet to leave a review for AskPat, it would be simply amazing if you took the time to do that.
Thank you so much, and here's a quote to finish off the day by Don Crowther. He says, “People want to do business with you because you help them get what they want. They don't do business with you to help you get what you want.”
So keep that in mind with whatever you're doing. You know, they want you to help them. Not help you, necessarily. But, of course I know the law of reciprocity does take into account the fact that when you help people they want to help you back, too. Because they feel good about that. And so, give them the opportunities to do so. Thanks so much, I appreciate you. And here's to you and your success. And I'll see you in the next episode of AskPat. Bye.