AskPat 339 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: What's up, everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to Episode 339 of “Ask Pat.” Thank you so much for joining me today. Before we get to today's question from Warren, I do want to thank today's sponsor which is Lynda.com.
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Alright. Let's get to today's question from Warren.
Warren: Hi, Pat. This is Warren again from The Superb Life blog where anyone can reinvent themselves to improve relationships and do things that matter to others. Say the word again because, if, by any chance, this question gets chosen, it would be my second one in your AskPat show. Thank you for answering my previous question, by the way. You helped me out more than you know. Also, there's no need to send me another free shirt. I'd much rather that you donate it to someone else instead. Anyway, here's the question that I hope you can help me with, as well. I want to start a forum. I'm not sure if you ever started one, but I always wondered how someone encourages others to post messages or questions on a new forum that doesn't havea lot of content yet since it's still new. Thanks, Pat for your time and keep doing what you do.
Pat: Hey, Warren. Thanks for your second question. I'm so happy to feature it here again. I appreciate what you said about donating the shirt. We'll definitely do that. To answer your question, or questions. Yes, I have started a forum of my own. It is a very difficult thing to manage, I will say, especially if it's on your own site away from other sites where people are already. For example, them hinting at Facebook groups, and Facebook communities, and LinkedIn groups, and those sorts of things which are social platforms that people are, typically, already on. They'll get notified, and they don't have to sign up for something new. They're already active there. A lot of them are active there anyway. The Facebook group that I have at facebook.com/community just passed 10,000 users. Obviously, when it gets to that point, things are going to start to happen on their own. I'm hardly ever in there starting conversations. I'm in there chiming in as much as I can, but conversations are starting on their own, people are prompted and encouraged to, and often are very, very generous with their time and information that they share in there, which is fantastic.
Of course, if you're starting out, and you just have a small number of people, having a forum can be very difficult because the last thing you want when you have a forum is a ghost town. What I would do is I wouldn't even really start a forum unless you know you have a good mass of people that can be in there to be active. What I would do in the meantime would be create something like a Facebook group, for example, which is free. A lot of people are on there already. It's great. It's not the best because searching through older archived posts isn't the best. Threading isn't the best, as well, with specific comments that people might leave. It's, like I said, hard to find stuff that you've mentioned before. The nice thing about having a traditional forum on something like BB Press, or Vanilla Forums, or some other website-based forum product is that things are easily searchable. People create their own profiles. You can go and find other conversations that people have been in already. It's a lot easier to do those sorts of things, but if you're just starting out, it can be very difficult to keep things active.
When you're starting out, maybe you just came out with a course, and you have a small membership site, and you want to keep a forum on there, which is understandable. It keeps people on your own stuff, and Facebook, who knows? Who knows what's going to happen to Facebook years down the road. All those groups that everybody has now, they might not be active any more down the road. We'll see. If you have your own group, you get to control it. That's the nice thing, but when you're starting out it's difficult. Encouraging people to discuss and participate is very, very important.
I'm really glad you asked this question, Warren. There's a number of different things you can do. The number one thing that you might be able to do is, make sure you schedule time to start conversations. A lot of times people are just waiting to be prompted to do something and share things. A lot of people don't want to be the first one to start a discussion, especially if it's just starting out. People want to see it and make sure that their questions are going to be answered, and that people are actually looking at their stuff. When you're first starting out, you really have to be active. You, specifically, and you and your team. It would be very smart of you, Warren, or anybody else out there who wants to start a forum, if you have a team. You might even hire somebody to be in there to be a community manager.
This is something that Fizzle.co does very well. They have Barrett on board specifically to manage the community and manage people's pathway to success, which I think is great. Again, that's Fizzle.co, an amazing group of guys who are creating just the best online courses out there. Fizzle.co. And Barrett is their community manager, which is a very smart move on their part, I feel. I know another person, Darren Rowse, when he created his community, he had a few people on board. I think there was somebody named Andrea. I'm trying to remember. They would be in there as the admins of this community. Darren was in there every once in a while. These were the people who were specifically . . . They were put in the position to be there and make sure conversations were happening, and people's questions were getting answered for the reasons that I mentioned before. They were starting conversations to prompt people to respond and get used to typing in and going into the forums, as well.
That's one of the cool things about having it on Facebook is, people are signing into Facebook anyway. When they go into Facebook to check their status or update their status, there might be a notification from other people in the group that they're in. Then, they don't have to go anywhere else. When you have a membership site or a forum of your own, people will often have to log in, and go to this place, and, then, go to that place to find their specific thread, whereas on Facebook, obviously, they built in a way where it's really easy to access those things. Going back to your question, “What can you do to encourage others?” Have people in there to help start those conversations for you. That's going to help out a lot. Again, to reply to specific comments that are already being made, to make sure that they're actually being listened to. That'll encourage them and get them excited about commenting even more and responding to other people's comments and questions, as well.
Here's a list of a few things that you can do to encourage people, as well. You can do contests. You can do, for example, challenges. Challenges are great. There might be a thread, for example, and I know somebody who does this really well. This is Steve Kamb over at NerdFitness.com. He has an amazing community which has now grown into over, I think, 200,000 people, which is crazy. Even in the beginning, he was doing, what he called, the “Rebel Challenges,” which is pretty cool. I think they were called the “Rebel Challenges” because it goes along with the Star Wars theme. Again, NerdFitness.com which is a great site. Everybody in the internet marketing space seems to use his site as an example of a way to niche down in a particular industry because fitness is huge. Health and fitness is expansive and very saturated, but he was able to crush it by targeting nerds. He's able to speak to them in their language. It's very cool. Again, Steve's a great guy, as well. NerdFitness.com is his website. He does these challenges every so often where for “x” number of days people are committing to do something. They keep updating everybody else on the forum of how they're doing in their challenge. It's a really, really smart, and a great way to get people active, and encourage people. Sometimes at the end, people . . . Or a lot of time in the end, especially with Steve's site, complete the challenges, and they have amazing results, and they share their pictures and stuff. You might be able to find a way to do something similar with what you are talking about, Warren, in your website.
Another thing to do is encourage people to share their wins, to share case studies of what they're doing, to be open to promoting a little bit of what they're up to in exchange for also sharing something that they're working on that is helpful and doing really, really well, that could be helpful for everybody else, as well. You also want to ask questions of the community and actually prompt them, even though you might know the answer. It's sort of a way of quizzing people. That's why we're all so in love with game shows, and why we'll spend an hour watching a game show when we don't even know who the contestants are. It's because we love to know that we know the right answer. We won't have an opportunity to share a right answer to something if nobody asks us a question that we might know the answer to. Asking questions is great.
Also, having people share what they're working on, as well. Those are all great ways to encourage people to participate which, again, is very, very important in the beginning. I would also reach out to people, especially if you have a small amount of people. It won't take too much time to do this, but it'll make a dramatic effect. When people post for the first time, you want to thank them. Maybe, send them an email, or have somebody on your team send them an email that literally thanks them for being active in there, encouraging them to do more, and having them understand that their comments and questions are being listened to. That's something I would definitely, definitely do.
Also, if you have a membership website, one of the first things you can do in the onboarding process when you get people through and finally logged in, maybe they watch a welcome video that you have showing them all the different components of the membership site, “Here's Module 1. Here's how you view a video. Here's how you can download a worksheet or an MP3 file, and here's the forum where you can ask questions, and comment, and leave your suggestions on other people's questions. To start off, I want you to introduce yourself. Here's the thread. Go to this link here. It's below the video. Click on it. Introduce yourself. Share who you are, what you're up to, where you live . . .” Well, not where you live. “What part of the country you're from,” or something like that. You don't want to ask necessarily for people's addresses, obviously.
Then, I loved asking people when I'm asking them to introduce themselves to share a fun fact or something interesting about them. That helps everybody else remember who that person is. Obviously, if I was, “Hey. My name's Pat Flynn. I have a blog at smartpassiveincome.com. I'm just in love with spending time with my family almost as much as I am in love with Back to the Future.” No. just kidding. Obviously, I love my family more than Back to the Future, but it's pretty close. How could you ever forget somebody who said something like that? Of course, encouraging people to share some interesting fact about them will help you and everybody else remember that person, as well. Even though it might not have anything to do with what you're talking about, and what you're teaching, and encouraging people to do, it does have everything to do with who that person is. In a forum you want people to be human, and talking to each other, and remembering each other. That's the goal behind that.
Warren, I hope that answers your question. Thanks again for the question today. I really appreciate it and just your generosity in what you said about not wanting another t-shirt. We'll save that one for somebody else. Thank you so much. For those of you listening, if you have a question you'd like potentially featured here on the show, just send it over to AskPat.com. If your question hasn't been featured before, we will definitely send you an AskPat t-shirt free of charge for having your question featured here.
I want to ask you really quick for everybody listening, if you have a quick second, head on over to iTunes and leave a quick review for AskPat. There's only a handful of reviews, which is surprising because there's three times as many episodes of AskPat than there are of the other podcasts that I have, Smart Passive Income, which has over 1,600 reviews. Just a spare moment, just a quick honest review is all I'm looking for. I really appreciate it. It helps encourage me and the team to keep pushing forward.
As always, I'd like to end with a quote. Again, thank you for your reviews in advance. Here's the quote to end the week off. This is from Mark Twain. He says, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing. That's why we recommend it daily.”
Cheers. Take care. That was your daily dose of AskPat. I can't wait to serve you next week in next week's questions of AskPat. Thanks so much. Appreciate it. Have a good one.
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