Archive For: April, 2013

Start A Forum With A Small Budget (And Still Stand Out)

Learn how to create your first forum and go live for under fifty bucks – and do it today

What if I told you it’s possible to create your own forum today? Do I have your attention?

If you want a breathtakingly modern forum, built on a responsive design, you would think that it would cost quite a bit. A vBulletin or Xenforo license usually runs a couple hundred alone – and that’s leaving out the fact that you’ll also need a domain, web hosting, and design tweaks. Costs can add up. If you want to see what it takes to run a forum without a large investment, this tutorial will tell you everything you need to know.

Fortunately, there is free forum software available. One of the most popular free forum scripts is phpBB. It is an open-source script that will allow you to get up and running quickly. Cost = $0.

What you want to do now is get a domain. If you already have one, you’re one step ahead. If you don’t, registering a domain is extremely simple. You’ll now want to get your hosting account. If you host with us, we can walk you through all of these steps. We can also install the forum software for you. Plus, with our shared hosting package, you get a free domain as well. Cost so far = $24.95.

We’ve now only spent a little over $20. We have a new domain, web hosting, and our forum script installed. Now, if you want to improve the design of your forum, there are a number of styles for phpBB, but there was one I found in particular that stood out. The Metro Theme by PixelGoose has a modern, Windows 8 look to it. Plus, it’s only $15. So, for a grand total of $39.95 you have been able to get a domain name, hosting, and a professional, responsive design for your new forum.

Start A Forum With A Small Budget (And Still Stand Out)

Now you just have to get busy building it.

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Using vBulletin to Build Transparency and Community Around Your Brand

Using vBulletin to Build Transparency and Community Around Your Brand

Community is a buzzword that has become more than buzz. The businesses that “get it” are the ones focused on building a community around their brand. They understand that having evangelists and brand advocates is the trump card of real business promotion. Your customers will always be a voice that is listened to. Conversations will occur online. There will be conversations about your business. If you know these conversations are happening anyway, shouldn’t you control the dynamic?

Of course, you want to be at the center of the conversation. That goes without saying. Forums are an ideal solution for community building.  By far, the most popular solution is vBulletin. Not only are forums used to facilitate conversations around a certain topic, they can also be used for customer support, and as a knowledge base or wiki. To help outline the benefits of using vBulletin as a community building tool, we’ve outlined the key benefits of using vBulletin for your business.

1) Your website becomes the hub.

There will be conversations occurring online about your business. They can be both good and bad. You can benefit from having both occur on your website. Of course, you have to understand that creating a community means transparency. It means that, good or bad, what people post will be there for the world to see. The power in having this occur on your website versus somewhere else, is the fact that you can readily respond to negative comments. This creates transparency in the way you do business. 

2) Support issues handled online can be converted to a FAQ or Knowledge base.

If you offer a service or product, undoubtedly you will face issues that need to be resolved. Customers will have questions, people will need help. There is no point in answering the same question more than once. It wastes your time as a business owner, and the customer has to wait for a solution. You can save your time and create a valuable resource at the same time by having a support forum that allows customers to publicly post questions. Once answered, the solution is there for all to see. Plus, once you develop your community, your customers will end up helping each other with problems. You can even follow Dell’s example and create a recognition program for top contributors.

3) Having a forum comes with (SEO) benefits.

Content and engagement both play a major role in ranking. Adding a forum to your website will help you not only build a community, but you’ll also build up plenty of user-created content. This content gets indexed by the search engines the same way a blog post does. In this way, you can field the questions your customers are asking and offer solutions.

4) Crowd-sourcing at your fingertips.

Hosting your own forum also puts you at the forefront of your customers thoughts, gripes, interests, and more. If you have the ear of your customers, you can use your forum to crowd source information and find ways you can improve your product, or create something new.

 

 

 

 

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