How to Start a Business Forum

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Starting a business forum can provide a meeting place for business people to form professional relationships, and to share their ideas and concerns. Running a business forum mimics running any other type of online community. With proper planning and dedication, a new business forum can experience immense, rapid growth.

Things You'll Need

  • Domain name
  • Registrar
  • Web host
  • Forum Software/Script
  • Forum Moderators
  • Find an available domain name from the WhoIs database. Aim for a domain name that immediately tells perspective forum members what your forum discusses. Additionally, choose a search engine optimized domain name that makes your business forum easy to find from organic searches. Find a reputable registrar from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' (ICANN) Accredited Registrars list.

  • Select a script for your business forum which provides for customization. Free forum scripts like phpbb work well for beginners. However, paid forum scripts provide optimal support and flexibility. Paid solutions also offer more options for personal modifications and easy to navigate admin panels.

  • Find a web host offering hosting compatible with the your forum software. For example, a forum built using PHP requires a hosting a company that uses PHP compatible servers. Choose a hosting package with adequate data storage allowing your forum to grow. Provided your forum grows pretty quickly, make sure your web host has competent back up procedures in the event a power outage, injection attack on your forum or some other event could delete your forum's data.

  • Consider article marketing via a separate website before launching a forum. Owner of 2createawebsite Lisa Irby advises building traffic first via a website or blog before launching a forum. A successful online community requires a basis for traffic. Create a buzz and people to market to via writing articles about various aspects of business can help build a traffic base prior to launching a forum. Start small with only a few discussion areas like introduction, general discussion and starting a business sections. Keeping categories to a minimum also creates the illusion of an active community for new forums.

  • Register fake users and pose questions answering them with multiple fake user accounts. Many webmasters populate new forums using this method. If you decide to go this route, deactivate the view IP address option from your admin panel so real users will not see the fake users with the same IP address and become suspicious.

    Hire paid forum posters to populate your business forum to avoid doing the work yourself. Outsourcing this job saves time allowing webmasters to focus on other aspects of launching a new forum such as marketing. Find paid forum posters from freelance websites or from companies specializing in these services.

  • Select a team of moderators to manage the community. Decide on the rules of conduct along with the team and determine how these rules will take effect. Choose business minded moderators. Community members often look to moderators for guidance so employing resourceful moderators can help retain community members.

  • Promote your business forum to increase online visibility. Sign up with other business forums and entrepreneur forums, provided the forum rules allows for doing so post a link to your business forum in your signature. Post comments on business blogs leaving links to your business forum. Linking a website in other forums and blog posts increases the chances someone will visit the linked website and also provides a quality backlink, thus increasing search engine ranking.

    Avoid leaving posts simply to say visit my forum; these types of posts become spam. Spamming will eventually deteriorate your forum's credibility. Only make thoughtful posts which contribute to the topic. Use social marketing mediums like Twitter and LinkedIn to form strategic alliances. Exchange links with your allies to increase your forum's activity and create more opportunities for future partnerships.

Tips & Warnings

  • Set an official launch date and create buzz for your new business forum by offering freebies to the first few people who register.
  • Do not use downloaded or null scripts to avoid legal action, as well as possibly losing your credibility and forum.

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References

  • Photo Credit business is business - cliche image by Jeffrey Zalesny from Fotolia.com
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