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Study: Why do people join forums?

The first step to getting someone to join your forum is to understand why people join forums in the first place. Below are the results of a survey of 6,317 forum members (over 12 unrelated volunteer forums) conducted by sparkBB.com:

Interact with like-minded individuals: 35.23% (2226 users)

To ask a question: 25.99% (1642 users)

To share knowledge: 20.08% (1269 users)

Promote something: 12.39% (783 users)

Solely to make friends: 6.28% (397 users)

Analysis

Interact with like-minded individuals - There is no surprise seeing this as the most popular choice for why people join forums. Forums are about camaraderie and the sharing of information. Interaction occurs naturally and its only enemy is conflict.

To ask a question - Most forums are themed and are home to experts within that industry. Expect over a quarter of your members to join your forum just so you'll answer their questions. Cater to these members and they will eventually take interest in other areas of your community.

To share knowledge - Who doesn't enjoy having a good reputation? Those in the know want to share their knowledge with others, build status within the community, and simply help others.

Promote something - It's good to see people are honest. A lot of us have ulterior motives when posting on forums but this isn't to assume this is the sole reason for posting. We see these people as genuinely interested in your forum but a driving force behind their activity is the opportunity to get more signature views or wait for their moment to refer a member to their services.

Solely to make friends - These are understandably the minority. Friendship and camaraderie are huge with forums but the key word "solely" seemingly led to far fewer responses. Friendship, for many, is a great benefit but it is not their sole reason for being active on a forum. One respondent commented on why she did not choose this option even though she very much enjoys making friend on forums "...making friends on forums is like the SlimFast to my diet. It is nice, and I enjoy it, but without exercise, there's really no point."

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to outline what draws people to forums in general so you can focus your attention on making sure these are values your forum offers. Your forum may be about aquariums and the love of maintaining one, but odds are that over 12% of your users are there with additional objectives (the "Promote something" option). You may be snarky with "drive-by" posters who ask their questions and leave, but take note that 20% enjoy showing off their knowledge and those questions make things more fun for them. Keeping an open mind to the various needs your forum members have is a surefire way to keep your forum healthy.

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Author: Chris Davis

Article Usage: Copyright © 2009 sparkBB, LLC. Copying and/or redistributing this article, in whole or in part, is not permitted. Direct linking is permitted.

Simple link: Study: Why do people join forums?

Link & description: Study: Why do people join forums? - A study conducted by sparkBB.com of 6,317 members on 12 independent forums outlining why they join forums.

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