Part of your online publishing strategy should include some type of online community – blog, board, forum, etc. After all, you’ve got great content that you want to share with as many people as possible.
Patrick O’Keefe speaks from experience and offers great suggestions in his book Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards. When your sites are properly integrated, it makes it easy for users to get involved and will encourage visitors to become participants.
O’Keefe explains that there are few ways to create an online community:
- Create a new stand alone community
- Create a new online publishing site along with a community
- Create a new community to add to an existing online publishing site
Option two and three have the definite advantage of directly linking with your online publishing site to draw more traffic. You will have more topics to discuss and your community will develop a following, not to mention the increase in content and pages, which Google loves.
Try to create as many cross links between your online publishing site and your online community for maximum exposure.
- Set up “Discuss” links from your online publishing site back to your community. Start a new thread and link for every new article that you publish, if possible include an excerpt.
- Give the authors from your online publishing site special distinction in your community. Get as many as possible to participate in Q & A’s in your online community.
- Create a static link to an index of categories on your online publishing site that can be easily accessed from your online community.
- Let loyal users spread the word. Include “Tell a Friend”, “Email this Topic”, or “Link to Us” where possible.
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Keep it Active.
To have continued growth, your online community must remain active. Have a least one active writer to ensure a steady flow of content. New posts, new threads, new links, etc.
Also, choose a community administrator wisely. Your selection is vital to the successful cultivation and development of your online community. Someone with good people skills and good communication skills would be an ideal administrator.
For more on this, read Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards by Patrick O’Keefe.