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Wix Updates \ JAN 9th 2017

New! Create a Forum and Build Your Own Online Community

New feature announcement! Wix Forum is here and it is absolutely great. By adding an online forum to your Wix website, you can increase user engagement and watch as your online community grows. Like all other features in the Wix website builder, setting up your forum is easy and straightforward. And did we mention that it’s 100% free of charge?

Online forums represent the vitality of virtual communities coming together to share knowledge and enthusiasm. Many site owners find that creating a forum is both valuable in boosting the site’s content and fun for the site visitors. In this article, we’ll introduce the fantastic features of the Wix Forum app, the benefits of adding a forum to your website and the best practices for doing so.

Meet Wix Forum – your online community builder

This new app combines all the great elements of the Wix experience. After adding the app to your site in the Wix Editor, you can easily customize the layout, set up admin capabilities and define the content and interests of your community. Here are some highlights that make Wix Forum so good:

  • It looks fantastic on mobile and is 100% mobile friendly
  • User sign up, login and participation is easy and intuitive
  • You can choose a classic forum layout or a fancy cards display – both layouts are customizable
  • A rich text editor allows you and your forum members to add beautiful posts – including images
  • Managing the forum is so simple. Being an admin shouldn’t be a headache!
  • Each member gets a profile page that documents their forum activity

Choose a Layout You'll Love

Why create a forum in the first place?

There are many reasons to create a forum or a forum website. Believe it or not, forum members are not strictly identified with Justin Bieber fans or Minecraft enthusiasts. If you search the web you will find flourishing forums dedicated to almost every theme or niche, from military history to interior design.

The primary reason to create your own forum would be to build a community around a shared interest. Your forum will be providing this community with a space to exchange ideas, compare experiences and also enjoy a conversation with people who share a profession, a hobby or a worldview.

An online forum also opens a channel of communication between the site owner and site visitors. Newsletters and site comments are excellent for engaging with visitors but both tend to place an emphasis on one side of the discussion. A forum offers an engagement that is much more open and horizontal. The forum moderator or admin still has more control over the platform, but an eye-level discussion is free to develop as long as the rules are kept.

Another bonus to adding a forum is that it could contribute to your site’s SEO. Think of the forum as an additional source of content that can be indexed by search engines. As long as it is active, and as long as your members make good contributions to the discussion, the forum essentially creates frequently updated high-quality content that search engines love.

 build a community around a shared interest

How to make your forum a success

Before you launch your online community to the world, here’s a list of “Forum Best Practices” you might find useful:

  • Define your forum’s themes and interests: What is it that brings your members together? What issues are important, useful or entertaining in their eyes? You can use the Categories feature to set up various threads for various points of discussions.
  • Be clear about the rules: As forum admin, you need to set the tone and determine what would be considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior in your community. Create an introduction thread and use the ‘Pin Post’ feature to make sure that it always remains the first item that forum members encounter.
  • Encourage active participation: Forums thrive on discussion. If your members are just passive observers, there won’t be much action going on. You can encourage them to participate by posing questions, commenting on other people’s posts or solicit a specific member’s opinion. Try to get a sense of what makes your members react and respond and be sure to work with these themes or methods.
  • Promote, promote, promote: Don’t sit around and wait for new members to sign up. Go get them! Use your social media profiles and your newsletter lists to bring in new members. You can also personally and individually invite people who you think could be interested in your community. If some members are particularly active, ask them to become ambassadors for your forum within their own networks.

What to watch out for:

As any savvy forum admin will tell you, running a forum can sometimes be challenging. You need to be alert and be ready to battle against malignant elements that could bring your forum down. The main culprits are:

  • Spammers: You know they’re out there, waiting to sneak in and pollute your forum with useless links and bad syntax. Spammy content is not only annoying, it can cause some serious SEO problems. Search engines like Google hate seeing these mindless posts and could penalize your site if you don’t weed them out.
  • Trolls: The bad guys of the internet LOVE forums. They thrive on the type of direct communication that maintains anonymity and is not governed by a large company like Facebook. As forum admin, you bear the responsibility to ensure that all forum members are safe, and you owe it to them to keep trolls (especially the violent, aggressive type) away.
  • Uninspiring content: This is perhaps the most difficult threat to defeat. Spammers and trolls can be blocked, but how do you make sure that the discussions taking place on your forum remain interesting, fun and engaging? The key is to stay committed. If you regularly participate in discussions, take a pro-active approach, raise relevant and interesting issues and acknowledge valuable and contributing members, you will provide your community with a forum that they want to be a part of.

Ready to build a great online community? Create a website with Wix!

by The Wix Team
Wix

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