Discussions on a forum are what keeps the doors open. It is what gets the community involved with the topics and makes them stick around. Without discussions, forums cannot exist. However many topics on a forum will often go without responses, or the responses will be basic and that user will never again return to the thread. With the following tips you will be able to create some hot topics on your forum which will really bring in the posts and hopefully even new users!
1. Ask follow up questions.
A key element to the longevity of a discussion topic is the ability for users to continue to respond to the same thread. Most forum owners create a handful of threads that upon one response from a user has served its purpose. The users who respond once have no reason to come back and check the thread because they aren’t asked follow up questions about what they have posted. An easy way to increase user engagement in a discussion topic is to ask follow up questions. It is easy to expand on the discussion by asking follow up questions to develop a more in-depth understanding of the users viewpoint. Use this as a way to increase the replies to a topic as much as you possibly can. You can ask many follow up questions based on a users response whilst also sharing your own ideas.
2. Bump older topics.
This is something that I believe to be commonly overlooked by webmasters. If you forum is mature in age, then you will likely have a lot of topics on your forum, therefore if you find response rates to be low you should go back through some of the older topics which are still relevant and bump them with a new response. This is beneficial in many ways – it saves the annoyance of the same topics being posted again and again, and also opens up older discussions to newer members who may have an opinion on older responses. At the start of a forums life there were likely threads with zero responses that just went missed, bump them back up to the top and watch new posts flow in!
3. Add a bit of controversy
Nothing gets a thread going like a bit of a debate. As long as these types of threads are controlled and the members of your forum are mature enough to accept differing opinions, you will find great success from some controversial topics. Make sure that the topics are niche related and you will find some great success with conversation. Make sure that you focus on advertising these controversial topics as well! As they are often the main topics that will make an outsider want to join in with the discussion in order to voice their own opinion, meaning you can benefit also by gaining new members.