Many older communities are hosted on fading forum platforms and suffering a slow, downward, decline.
What should you do?
Option 1 – Optimize Everything
This is the low risk, low reward option. Here you optimize as much as possible (search, automation, management processes, create some good content). You try to get engagement up in the short term to sell it to someone else.
This kicks the can down to the next person. You might get metrics heading up, but you’re still on the inevitable downward decline.
Option 2 – Revamp The Concept
This is the medium-risk level. Here you spend as much time as possible engaging with your audience, discovering what’s most relevant in their day to day lives and identifying the insertion points where your community can have the biggest impact.
This usually involves a significant shift in who the community is for and what it’s about. You will still be within the same topic, but the focus will shift to an audience that’s growing or has been left largely unsatisfied until now.
Option 3 – Align Yourself With The Latest Trends
This is the high-risk, high-reward option. Here you rebuild the community or the platform in-line with what’s likely to be most popular tomorrow.
Forums aren’t dead, but they are fading in relevance (especially the older variety). There are underlying trends to tackle here. Those trends are increased competition (Facebook, Reddit, other social media platforms) and new technology (more mobile, simpler interfaces, shorter messages).