Built a new forum, need guidance on how to make it grow

ux

#1

I am new to UX. My job was web development, but now seems to evolved to UX/GTM/Google Analytics Specialist.
We just started a new forum and it is slowly dying. Sad thing is, its only been around 3 weeks.

Does anyone know of any guidance, online resources that I could use to help grow my forum? It’s more specifically targeted to medical specialists within the field of medical translational science.

Any help is DEEPLY appreciated, please!


#2

Hey Greg,
Welcome. You’re kinda in the right place. This community is very specifically about UX rather than community building.

The reason you’re in luck is that I’m a community builder as well as a UXer. I write the product that you are using right now.

I do have resources for you though, so fear not!

You need:
https://www.feverbee.com/ (A tonne of resources on community building)
https://experts.feverbee.com/ (I’d start by asking questions here)
https://cmxhub.com – these guys also have a Facebook group and a Slack channel that are helpful

My first question to you would be why did you start the new forum? Did you research your audience first to ensure that there was a need for it? If not, it’s likely it’ll never success unfortunately.

Happy to answer further questions but you’ll get a more focused audience for this topic at FeverBee. :slight_smile:


#3

My first question to you would be why did you start the new forum? Did you research your audience first to ensure that there was a need for it? If not, it’s likely it’ll never success unfortunately.

I have asked that and unfortunately, I can’t get a direct answer for that. Our website was built to create a “network of collaboration” hence, someone from higher up suggested we build a forum for our website. There was some criticism met from my team on this, but we were encouraged to build it anyway.

Given the fact that we have this task, I guess all I can really do is study my target audience and create personas to understand how we can use the forum to utilize their needs.

thanks for the resources. I’ll be sure to review those. I presume you read those resources.
Could I come back with questions if I have any on that content??


#4

Then I hate to say it but you have another huge problem – lack of stakeholder buy in.

Yup, that’s a solid approach. I’d also consider surveying your target audience directly. Find out what challenges they need to solve.

Of course!


#5

Then I hate to say it but you have another huge problem – lack of stakeholder buy in.

I’ve asked my technical lead multiple times, why we need a forum and they basically reiterate the vision of our site which is about collaboration. When I push more, my lead insists that you can’t ask the question why do we need as as if this “hey, this is the real world.” and laughs. I can’t help but feel she misunderstands my motivation for asking. Knowing the why behind they why is the core of professional UX. And I agree with you and admitting this problem makes me kinda nervous.

I’m sure the answer to my question is obvious to you, but do you have any evidence to back the claim that without confirmation of user interest from persona or target audience study, this forum will go no where no matter what we throw at it? I haven’t studied our audience directly because I kinda evolved into this position, so I have “some” hope we can find some need for our users, but I’d like some form of research that I can use, just in case, I need to present this to my lead and respectfully say “if our users don’t want a forum, they aren’t gonna use one.”


#6

Another problem, um…I suggested doing usability tests, but my technical informs me that we don’t have the time or the type of people to do that on. It appears that’s another dead end, I’m afraid. I’ve suggested just selecting users at random and sending simple 3 question newsletters to 5 users at time to get feedback, but my lead suggests that it’s too early for that. Sooooo…I’m at a loss of what else to do other than simply study my persona/target audience and see if we can use the forum to fulfill those needs.


#7

when a forum is starting out, in the beginning, it’s tough. You need people asking questions and others answering them. Engagement and momentum is key. People wont engage on your forum if it’s dead.

You can’t do this on your own. People like active communities. I’d recommend getting your company to hire specialist community managers to keep conversations going. Look at what Hawk and Piper do on here, as they do a great job! You also need marketing involved to promote the forum and bring people in.


#8

Another challenge I’m afraid.

I don’t think we have a the revenue for community managers. My leads realize we need a marketer for our services, but I don’t think they are going to hire one anytime soon.

We are thinking of other ways of getting posts up that are user centered, but that drifts back to understanding our users persona, which I will now direct my attention to very deeply.