I'm starting a local community(forum), and really I am curious what the best way to get it to grow is. I mean obviously noone really wants to stick around if they are the only poster, but how do you counter this? I mean every forum/message board starts somewhere.. So, where's the start?
Is doing some small marketing/advertisements a good way, or ?
Some of you probably already seen my link, but it's a work-in-progress also, I am just preparing.. It's for Ohio, and Kentucky residents only rightnow.
I thought about setting up a rss aggregator, and just posting random news threads, and seeing if I can get anyone to signup, and comment..
Offer incentives for the people that do sign up, such as a free product (ebook maybe?). You can also do a promotion for the first 300 members or so, such as a raffle of some kind where they can win $10-$50 if they are picked out of the first 300. You can pick one big winner, or several small winners.
Promote on other forums via your signature. Also, like said above, give a reason for them to join. For example, if your forum gives help with technology and computers, make it so that the person in need can come to the site in order to obtain help. This can work for other types as well. I found that running affiliate programs usually work out great. What is your forum software, as if it comes with a affiliate program I would utilize it. For example, mybb comes with tracking affiliate links. You can then have a content where the person who gets the most affiliates wins $10.
Just make sure to check ips so no one cheats.
Offer gifts & prizes!
Get promoters, those who wish to promote their products on the forum.
Most of all get independent individuals who are interested to suggest forums discussions they will be ready to manage and moderate.
Promoting your forum in other popular forums and blogs will be good idea. But if you offer something that might be useful for your users then it will help to increase number of users rapidly. As you mentioned that at present you are targeting a specific location then offer them specific items that will inspire them to do mouth publicity for your forum.
Your Forum and its contents must be unique and attractive, so that people may stay longer and come again and again.
People usually come to the Forum, to look for something useful, or something that can be benefits for them.
You can also create some events (party, hangout, etc.) with your Forum's members or community - based on their preferences/hobbies. There, you may ask and discuss about the future of the Forum, the vision and mission, with your members/community - so you all can grow together.
Some great suggestions above, could also offer incentives based on post counts. First 10 people to 25 posts gets such and such a thing. The flaw with this one however is that you have to keep an eye out for useless posts.
I've started up two forums which have each reached over 100,000 members. I honestly have no idea what really did it, they just kinda took off over time.
I think the main reason was probably unique content. I had guides on how to various things (not going to get into detail here). There weren't many guides on the same topic, and I tried very hard to make my guides better than those offered elsewhere.
The other thing that can really help is getting some moderators to start things up with you. If you have friends who can help you moderate, then they'll have incentive to start conversations so that they have a reason to moderate in the first place. They can help start conversations and fill the forum up with posts other than your own.
I think you need to learn something called marketing.
I Agree. You need to have a good marketing strategy and if possible, hire some people to be moderators who must be always around so whenever someone visit your site, he/she will see that there are online users at the moment which indicates that the said forum is active though it don't have enough members for now.