What to look for in community management systems from Haven Thread, to Simple:Press to Kunena
Forums really leverage some of the best things about the Internet. Sometimes called message boards, forums allow users from all over the world to communicate together on shared interests on one platform. People offer advice, ask questions and users from the community share their knowledge. Users develop relationships and a community develops.
For publishers, who already have skills at building and serving an audience, this can seem like another great opportunity to serve their community. A robust forum on your website can build your brand as a true hub for news and information about whatever topic area in which you publish.
Different types of forums can serve different purposes for a community. Some forums are great places for users to get questions answered about a product or service. For example, Apple hosts forums for users of all their different products to ask questions and get their most common problems solved without calling the customer support line.
Other forums are chances for users to ask questions and trade best practice ideas on everything from raising children to solving mechanical car problems. Mequoda gold member client Vida Y Salud – the number one Spanish language health website in the world – has a large and active forum of users. The site helps millions of Spanish-speaking visitors understand how to improve their health and the health of their families. The site’s global reach and highly engaged audience easily lends itself to an online forum. Vida Y Salud’s forum allows users to discuss health issues, ask questions and get answers without having to visit a health care professional.
Although forums sound like a low-maintenance way to serve your audience, the reality is that they still take some work. Forums must be monitored for inappropriate questions or comments, and just to ensure that a person or small set of people doesn’t use the forum as a personal soapbox. Like any technology solution, forums are susceptible to bugs or spam, so someone needs to regularly maintain the service.
Mequoda’s community management system: Haven Forum
For publishers who have a large community of users to serve, Mequoda features a fully integrated forum installation module – Haven Forum.
For Mequoda clients, Haven Forum integrates smoothly with many of our recommended best practices. The forum itself sits in a portal packed with free content that is specifically designed to attract site visitors through SEO-friendly posts. Registering for one of these forums also requires an email address, which integrates with Mequoda’s email capture strategy. At the same time, registering to use the forum simultaneously registers the user for email newsletters that are meant to keep the user engaged with great publisher content. Finally, ad zone integration allows traffic to the forum to be sold either for the forum by itself, or in parallel content channels.
Haven Forum is a theme and template driven forum, with a suite of tools available for common administrator tasks. The moderator has the option whether to moderate every post. The forum has a ranking feature so users can determine what entries have proven most helpful.
In addition, a search function allows users to find archived material as well material that might exist deep within a thread. For a fully moderated forum, Haven Forum allows the administrator to be notified whenever a new post appears. The moderator also can view a wide range of forum statistics to measure engagement.
The module also contains a full suite of security features. The administrator can set up a permission system to require new members to apply before posting. The administrator can create private forums, and allow only registered members to select to receive an RSS feed of posts.
Members can create custom profiles to share with other participants. Social network and instant message identities can be used in the forum as well.
For publishers using an organic strategy, the site creates SEO-friendly permalinks, page and browser title settings and custom descriptions and keywords.
Other community management system a la carte choices
For websites run on open source software, there are several choices. WordPress sites can run Simple:Press. Joomla sites can partake of any number of extensions, such as Kunena. Sites written in Drupal can add forums using some simple programming.
In each case, don’t forget that forums are not “set it and forget it” propositions. You will need to monitor users and posts. In addition, you should take advantage of whatever integration capabilities you can. A forum should be undertaken as part of a strategy to attract visitors to your site and keep them engaged with great content – both user generated and publisher-generated.
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Haven Nexus is built with efficiency in mind
Haven Nexus CXMS is a state-of-the-art SaaS content management, content marketing, and content publishing tool—built, owned and maintained by Mequoda—to enable all the functionality that multiplatform publishing businesses need to be successful and profitable.
Unlike retrofitted websites with disparate systems that make customer service and reporting more difficult, Haven Nexus gives you a complete, central database that informs your marketing decisions and helps you maximize the lifetime value of each subscriber. We manage all the infrastructure, so you never have to look under the hood.
We’ve even identified the best partners so you don’t have to research software, email, hosting, and other functions on your own, or take stabs in the dark. When you put your system management into the hands of the industry’s only strategy-centric provider, your organization reaps the benefits of stress-free technology, content-focused implementation and ongoing profitability.
Schedule a 30-minute complimentary consult with Mequoda’s founder Don Nicholas to learn more about Haven Nexus.