Blogging is all about creating and engaging community together.A forum helps you to engage yourself with your blogging community. Your readers can engage with themselves and with you. In this post, I am going to discuss the importance of forum for your blog and how to create it.
What is a Forum?
A Forum also known as the message board is an online place for different people to communicate through message posting. A Forum works on a concept of thread or a topic. A Forum may contain and subforum and that contain topic and subtopic.
A Forum is normally controlled by moderator or admin and depending on the setting a post may or may not be visible until moderated.You can read Wikipedia for more info.
This picture explains the forum concept very well:
Why you need a forum for your blog:
You need a forum once your blogger readers community group is bigger. This is a very good way to attract more readers and retain existing one. Once you acquire knowledge on a particular topic or niche, it is good to start a forum and help other bloggers and community.
A Forum also helps you to build a pool of knowledge base and if you readers have doubt or question regarding a particular topic, they can refer to forum archives.
A very good example is Shoutmeloud where Harsh has created a forum to let their readers discuss various topics and ask the question with him and community.
So to Conclude, here is the benefit of Forum for your blog:
- Your blog readers can engage, ask question and share views with your forum
- Readers can find answers from experts and you
- Good way to get feedback from readers
- One good way to retain existing readers
- Create a pool of knowledge
- Engage and increase your community
How to create Forum for your blog –
So now you get a fair idea about what is a forum and why you need a forum. Let’s see how to create one for your blog. There are a lot of tools and software available in the market to quickly create a forum. I will discuss few in this blog.
Phpbb – This is one of the best forum tool available in the market. It is completely free and comes with one click install on most of the web hosting plans. It can manage a small group to big communities. Some of its features includes:
- Fully customized admin panel, user screen, and other screens
- Because of GNU license, you can change its code without any permission from Phpbb owners
- It’s styled database contains hundreds of picture to customized your forum
- Lot of training videos and support available through community forum to setup forum
- Easy to customize, use and setup
You can have a look to Phpbb demo here.
Some of the recommended Web hosting for Phpbb:
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Here is a video demonstration of one click install of Phpbb on Hostgator.
Bbpress – It is as easy as installing a plugin in WordPress. It is becoming quite popular in WordPress community as it is easy to install and implement. This product is from WordPress team is within minutes, you can bring it up for your blog. Some of its features includes:
- Simple install and activate
- Group forums, notification, activity logging
- Customize emoticons
- Works fine with single site or multisite domain
- Feature to migrate data from other forum tools
Here is a video to explain the installation of bbPress for WordPress:
BuddyPress – BuddyPress is little advanced than bbpress and PhpBB and contains more features. It comes as a WordPress plugin and very easy to install and setup. Some of its features includes:
- Custom profile fields
- Email notification for alerts and forget password
- Ability to create groups inside group
- Activity feeds for members and groups
- Set notification and alerts
- Friendship and private messaging for members
- External plugin supports for third party application
If you are looking Forum for your WordPress blog, I will recommend using one of the above.They are completely free and can be easily setup.
Besides these three, there are other lightweight plugins for WordPress which will give a similar experience like a forum for your blog. Some of them are DW question and answer, WP symposium, Anspress, Bublaa forum and comments, Sabai discuss for WordPress, and Group forum.
You can install them using WordPress plugins. Most of them are plug and play.You can install them and they are ready to use with a simple configuration.
The Big questions – Most of the blogger have these questions?
- Do I need a Forum?
It varies, but normally if your blog’s readers are more than 1K readers; you need a forum community to engage them.
- How will it bring more visitors to my blog?
Your forum will let your visitors engage with the community. They can ask question and get answer from you and community members. It not only create more visitors to your blog but create a pool of knowledge from your reader’s knowledge
- Can I retain existing readers with this?
Sure, why not. People love to help others and make friends. Forum provides right opportunity to them
- Which one is the best
You can pick one of the above as I mentioned. Most of the forum tools provide you option to migrate and export the data. So if you have a problem with one, you can switch to another.
- How easy it is to setup; does it require more technical knowledge?
It is very easy to setup. You have support available thru video tutorial and support forum.
- How much extra time I have to devote to maintain it?
Not much. For a small community, you need to act as a moderator to maintain decorum in the forum. You can also appoint other trusted person in the group as moderators and let them do. For a bigger community, you may need more than 2 moderators. With a little bit of work, you can take your blog to next level.
Some best guidelines to follow in your Forum:
- Make sure you have refraction points in forum to punish spammy and bad members
- Create filters with restricted words like porn etc
- Create some moderators within your community
- Provide them facility to share post on social media
- Additional features like post signature or private messaging should be allowed to trusted members only to prevent spam
- Once your community is bigger, you can implement ad revenue sharing with the users
- Make sure you involve in your forum
- Take complaints and feedback positively
- You can get new ideas about articles from forum post
- Create alerts and notification for your forum
- Make sure you take backup of your forum to restore it in case of any disaster
A forum not only give you new members but also create a brand of your blog. Your readers will trust you more and spend more time on your blog. Ultimately the aim of blogging is to bring more community to your blog and help them. Are you thinking about to have a forum for your blog? What tool do you use to maintain forum? I want to hear your experience and thoughts on the forum for WordPress.