The Time Breakdown
Time. Our best friend, yet at the same time our worst enemy. Time allows us to sleep, work, eat and play, while it limits our opportunities to do just that. There are very few people in the world who can make enough money on a forum to live off the income it makes, and then they spend the same amount of time on it as they would a full time job. This means that when it comes to managing and running a forum community, time is always of the essence. So how can you best use the time you have in a day to manage your forum in order for it to maximize its potential and still allow yourself to have a life. For no matter how successful your forum may be, it doesn't mean that you shouldn't go grocery shopping just to keep it that way.
The first question we must answer is the debate between spending a block of time on your forum every day or smaller portions of time throughout the day. I believe that the answer to this varies depending on the forum. The criteria which controls this consists of many factors, the main ones being time zones, user age and user background. If most or nearly all of your members are from the US West coast then being online when best suits your users time zone is going to be your best option. It is during this time you should dedicate effort to posting on your forum, instead of wasting time on the forum while most of your users are asleep. Your user age will also determine the time you need to be active on your forum. A younger user base is more likely to be online in the early afternoon, while a working age user group is more likely to be active in the evening. Late night activity usually comes from teenagers or young adults. User background plays a roll too, as the interests of your users will control their online activity. Gamers will spend their evenings gaming, so are more likely to visit forums before they settle down for a night of digital mayhem. TV show enthusiasts will spend the prime TV time watching their shows, so their internet browsing is more likely to be before this.
However, if your user base varies more, the option of small time periods is a better option. You will still need to analyze your user base and group them into time periods you believe most of them are online. Be active for 30-45 minutes in each of these active periods and use the time in-between to get other things done. Make sure to always post each of these times you are online though, to prove that you really are there and are active.
How do you know if your time plan is effective and correctly suited for your forum? While online you should never find yourself without something to do, but still not be overwhelmed or leaving things unfinished. I myself usually say you have spent the perfect amount of time online if you get everything done, are able to make a post or two on the forums every 10-15 minutes and have time to read 7-10 threads without anything major coming up. Are you able to relate to this?
If the answer is No, here are a few things to consider.
1. Are you using your time wisely, or procrastinating?
2. Are you capable of dedicating the time needed, or do you need someone to assist you?
3. Are you spending too much time on the forum when you can be doing other things to increase your activity, such as SEO?
4. Do you truly have the time?
5. Is your forums potential truly being maximized at this very second?