New forums can often be compared to virtual children because of their dependency on their owners. Starting a new forum isn’t easy and is not something for the light hearted to take up. Dedication is key for forum survival and unfortunately this is the key element where many forums fail and die out. A community is a start up business that thrives under good leadership and active staff participation. Without an active and near hovering administrator on call to supervise a new community the members lose interest and become lurkers and eventually cease to visit the site in it’s entirety. My community, Political Debate Forums, has had that exact same experience. I have raised that community for almost a year and I still find that activity is based on the leader administrator and his staff members. Simply put dedication is the key to getting a community off the ground. We all can’t be baby sitters however so I have three good goals that every new administrator should set and reach in order to show their community that they want to be successful.
Don’t Go It Alone.
A good forum administrator knows that he cannot run a forum by himself. It is possible but it’s not probable. By hiring staff members and partners a new admin can boost the activity of a forum times as many people that visit often. A forum creating activity and showing dedication has a much better chance of gaining new members. Instead of hogging all of the glory of the leadership to yourself consider building a team that you can rely on. After all you cannot be on your forum 24/7 and anyone that can match your activity boosts the over all activity by a multiple. Consider paying someone if you must because your forum community, even if you didn’t intend it to be so, is a business and will act like a business. All businesses need leadership.
When you finally get your team built and members start visiting your community be humble. Build relationships with those who have joined and treat them as friends. You as the admin are not a Lord or Emperor but just another user with a different level of access. When your activity is expected to be low let your community know why. Do not give the appearance that you have vanished because your users will always assume the worst. They will abandon your forum because they think that you have abandoned your forum. Even on my own forum I recently had to move and restructure my life as I left the military and became a civilian once again. I advised my community of what was going on and while we did lose activity it wasn’t hard to get back. We are already building back again after a week.
Show Your Dedication
A good forum administrator leads his community like a general leads an army. You should be the primary content creator, the most visible face, and the one who makes the calls. You must be the one who raises morale, takes on the worst users, and even changes the community structure and appearance as needed. Like any leader you must show that you are engaged and that you are dedicated to the forum that you own. You need to show your users that you strive for success and that you need their help. The forum admin might have a lot of responsibility but keep your pride in check, don’t create a chip for your shoulder, and remember that the community is what you strive for. As an old movie once said: “If you build it they will come”.
The take away from this article is that the forum community is dependent on the administrator but the pathway of a leader is not a solitary path. It is a path full of opportunity to build relationships, friendships, and even tactical business oriented goals. Be dedicated to your members and they will be dedicated to you. If you want to know more about leadership please look forward to my next article in which we will tackle the strategy of a leader.