Why You Should Build Your Own Forum Vs. Starting A Community Elsewhere

Why You Should Build Your Own Forum Vs. Starting A Community Elsewhere

The benefits of hosting your own community, versus starting one on LinkedIn or Facebook are tremendous. While it may seem like the slower road to having your own discussion group, creating your own forum pays off in the end, with traffic and rankings.

Let’s get right to the quick of it: when you spend time building a community on a platform you do not own, you are not in control. If the platform you are creating your community on decides to discontinue the service, or it falls out of popularity, the work and time you invested is lost.

The Importance Of Community

Community has become essential for online business. A community shows that what you offer is trusted. It’s more than social proof, it’s a referral network and word-of-mouth rolled into one. Having a community will also increase your authority and influence, not to mention help your business bring in more leads and sales.

Social Networks — Forums, Evolved (Sort Of)

Social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are great sites to connect. They each have their advantages and disadvantages, but in each you are limited in some way. Every one of these sites give users the ability to create topical groups, where they can moderate their community and have discussions.

From my experience, having serious serious discussions, or active conversations on a single topic, is a bit of a headache. Perhaps more so if there are a lot of people joining in. It just becomes too difficult to filter through what’s going on, and in the case of LinkedIn, finding your old comments can be a chore in itself.

You Should Own Your Community

Perhaps one of the greatest disadvantages to creating a community on a social network, versus going the DIY route is the fact that you do not own the content that is being created. Wherever you have built your community, at the end of the day, they are in control. Should they decide to discontinue the service, or drastically change it, you and your members are at the mercy of their whims.

Now, if you built this community yourself, using a self-hosted platform like XenForo or vBulletin, not only would you be in absolute control, you would also benefit from:

  • Search traffic reaching your site
  • Ranking for long-tail keywords
  • User generated content
  • Increased domain authority

That is only one part of the picture. You are also free to monetize your community how you see fit, and build it into a web property that can funnel new business and customers.

Have you ever thought about building a forum? What questions do you have?

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Post Written by
Greg Middlesworth is the owner of URLjet.

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