What goes into a forum strategy?

We hosted a discussion on Forum Strategy and explored some answers to questions.

This one was: What goes into a forum strategy?

  • All the things you’ve already tried that didn’t work
  • Diversity and inclusion plan
  • Aligning with member goals
  • Understanding where it fits within the whole of community effort
  • Goal alignments
  • Goals
  • Rules
  • Member personas
  • Accessibility requirements
  • What’s not important :expressionless:
  • How it fits into the business/community flywheel

This is a wiki post, feel free to edit this list directly or add a comment. :blush:

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I would say that, firstly, we must take into account the overall strategy of the brand/project. Additionally, I don’t see many differences from a “normal” strategy.
Higher focus on moderation;
Topic curation;
Expected behaviors from members.

What else?

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That’s a great list. Thanks for sharing.

I’ve found it useful to use the “5Ws and an H” approach when it comes to strategy.

  • Why
  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • When
  • How

For example, you might ask these questions:

  1. Why does this forum exist? Why should folks contribute/lurk?
  2. Who is the forum for? Who is the forum not for? Who might surprise you with unexpected contributions? Who could help with moderation?
  3. What is the forum mostly focused on? What does the framing/structure look like? What categories need setting up/maintenance? What sort of tags might help? What goals will help drive forum growth and support forum health?
  4. Where is the forum hosted? Where can people find out about the forum?
  5. When is a good time to focus efforts on the forum? When might you step back and leave the forum to it vs leading/curating the conversation?
  6. How does the forum fit in with the wider community strategy? How does the forum grow? How does someone sign up for the forum and get started? How do we ensure the forum is accessible and inclusive? How often do you expect people to post/lurk? How often should you review the forum’s performance?

This is not forum specific, but the idea of ‘strategy being simple’ stuck out to me and reminded me of this post.

How can forum strategy be simple?

Strategy is simple. Execution is complicated.

It’s easy to explain what we’re building and why it matters. It’s also easy to break down our strategy:

  • Build a way for people to curate the things on the Internet they love
  • Enable people to connect those things in interesting ways
  • Help people rediscover, search, and explore their own and other’s curations
  • Turn more people into curators

But each of the bullet points above breaks down into dozens of product and UX decisions, and each decision comes with a surprising amount of nuance and complexity. (If you’re interested in the nitty gritty details, believer members get access to a data room where you’ll find a trail of documents that reveal how we’re thinking about the next chapter of our product.)

But the real lesson here is that we’re no longer in the business of building an MVP. We’re striving for maximum fucking love.

Source: A year in review - Check your Pulse

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