If you were asked the question, “What is the one thing you need before starting an online forum community?” Would you be able to answer? Do you know about the one thing that can cause a forum community to fail or succeed within the first month? Did you even know a single factor could contribute to that?
The answer: followers, because without followers, it does not matter how much you post or update your forum, you won’t be attracting many members. Many users are hesitant to join new communities and become active in it. If you learned anything from that dancing guy, it’s that communities need motivated and dedicated leaders, but more importantly, motivated and dedicated followers. Without those followers, your new community will not be able reach its full potential. You can also see in the video how quickly people started joining AFTER other people joined in one the dancing. That is the exact same effect with new communities, and that is the reason why it is so vital to get followers before launching your forum community.
You need a few people that are willing to help you start your forum by posting and becoming active on your new forum. Even Richard Millington, from FeverBee, suggests that you have a small group of people willing to respond to posts before you post a bunch of topics.
You need followers because you need people that are willing to post on your community from the very first day and continue posting in these very decisive initial steps of your new community. Without followers you will also lose all of the potential of your forum’s “New Forum Energy.”
Getting followers is no easy task. There is not one way that will get you a bunch of followers. You need to understand is that you are the one that needs to go out and find your followers. Your followers won’t find you. You need to go out there and ask on forums, Twitter, IM, and every other place you could think of. You need people that respect your idea and respect you.
What You Need to Do To Get Followers
You need to prove them that you are capable of making this an awesome community. If there is any doubt in them that it will be a failing community, many of them will not hop on board until they see that the community is thriving. You need to prove to them that you are capable of having an amazing community. This can be hard for newer administrators, but you are always able to create hype. Tell them your plans, what you want to do, what your goals are, what kind of a community you want, etc. Get them excited about your forum. If the person is excited about the community before it opens, you have a potential follower right there!
It is not easy to get followers, but try to get at the minimum of 3. I think that with 5 you can start up a community, they just need to really stick with you and be active. The more followers, the better. Leverage existing communities you’ve created to tell people about the new one. Use your Facebook and Twitter to tell all your friends. You want people to know that the community is coming and they should wait for it. Ask them personally who wants to be a part of it. Keep them updated and keep them excited, that is how you create followers.
Use the Word “Because” To Convince Them
In a study posted on CopyBlogger, the word “because” was used effectively to convince people to allow a person to cut them in line for a copy machine. By using the word “because” she was able to get 94% of the people to allow her to cut in the line. Without the word, only 60% allowed her to cut in line. If you would like to read the rest of the article, you can find it here: The Two Most Important Words in Blogging.
So what should you do? Make sure to use the word “because” when trying to convince them to become your followers. You can say something along the lines of, “This community will succeed because _______.” Fill in the blank.
Finding followers is probably the hardest part. You should start with people you already know through email, Twitter, Facebook, IM, etc. Talk to them about it and see what they think. Turn them into potential followers.
If you have 0 followers, then you should start by joining a community in the same niche as the one you are trying to start. Starting a gaming forum? Why not join some gaming communities and get known and respected there first? Try to make some friends on those forums and get to talk to them personally, then after knowing them for a bit spring the question about your forum and ask them if they would join you in creating that new community. Many of those people will be very excited to join a new community in the same niche, not to mention start one.
It’s amazing how hype can get followers by getting them excited about the possibilities. Hope is all they need to get excited.
Motivating Your Followers to Post
One of the best techniques that I have used to motivate your followers to post on your new forum is implementing the “Forum Founder” technique. The idea of “founding” a community that could potentially get large is a motivating one. All they need is that “possibility” that it will become big, then they will want to help you. Imagine if you knew Google was going to get big and you decided to help it out in the early stages. You are rewarding your followers for being your first followers, which is very important.
Never Refer to Them As Followers
Never convince them to become your “followers.” That is not the point of this article. You need people that respect your idea for this community and are willing to help you. Those are your followers, never ask them, “Hey, will you be my follower for my new community?” That will be a major turn-off and most will probably decline that offer. Just talk to them naturally and ask them whether or not they will help you. That is how you get a follower.
Are You Ready To Launch a New Community?
So now that you know the one thing you need before launching a new forum community, what are you going to do?
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