There’s a rule of thumb that 1% of the members of an online community create new posts, 10% make comments and the rest only consume.
If you are one of the few creators, thank you. Your content is what makes the internet such an interesting place. When you do post a new discussion, here are some tips on how to make it a great one:
1. Make the discussion title descriptive. A good discussion title is a short preview of your post and is what gets people to click and read. A well written title is also going to help search engines better index your post which will bring more people into the discussion. For example, instead of ‘The worst movie ever’, try ‘The Internship is by far the worst movie of 2013’ or instead of ‘Bridge mode doesn’t work’ try ‘Help, I’m having problems getting my Hitron modem into bridge mode.’
2. Proof read. Spelling mistakes, typos, and bad grammar will distract readers from the point you’re trying to make. If you’re writing a long post, save it as a draft and come back to it after a few minutes or as long as it takes your brain to forget what you had written.
3. Use minimal formatting. Overly formatted posts can also distract from the message and it encourages others to do likewise and you end up with a hard to read thread.
4. Put your post in the right category. The right category can be the one that has a relevant category name or it can be a category where this kind of post is often made. If there is no appropriate category, it might be worth considering if your post is appropriate for the community at all.
5. Use tags. Tags are helpful for others to find keyword related posts. It also helps the site admins get a sense for what topics are popular.
6. If you want responses, ask for them. In marketing this is called a ‘call to action’. If you want others to comment, you can encourage them by asking them to do so. If your post is just an FYI then don’t.
7. Go easy on the insider jargon. Inside jokes and inside references can be fun and make the community unique but too much of it can turn off new members.
8. Add an image. Images add visual interest and make your post look great when shared to social networks.
9. Mention others. Credit other members if you are building off their previous comments or if you want to draw them into the discussion.
10. Take ownership of the discussions that you have created. Respond to comments promptly and thoughtfully. Thank others for commenting on your discussion and help with moderation if things get heated.
Creating great forum posts helps to ensure quality discussion and better engagement. If you are a member of a community and you want it to be vibrant and a great place for others, the above rules will ensure it's a great experience for everyone. What are your tips for great forum posts? Did we miss any?
Vanilla Forums offers a cloud based solution to increase engagement with your fans, supporters and customers. Try Vanilla Forums Cloud Solution free for 30-days.