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|Message boards are
the easiest visitor retention method to set up. In theory
with message boards the content is created by a site's
visitor's without any effort on the site's part at all.
That is in theory, in practice a site will have to
moderate its forums or risk potential illegal or
inappropriate things being said that reflect poorly on
the site as a whole.
Message boards have a few major draw backs as well. Firstly they are CPU intensive to operate. If you are using shared hosting an active message board could push you towards needing a dedicated server or incur additional hosting costs because of its resource usages. Secondly message boards if succesful are actively viewed and read. That might sound great but in reality that means a few visitors view a lot of pages resulting in lots of page views per person and low click thru rates on ads. This mean generating advertising revenue off of message boards is tough and this is why almost all of the free message board services still in existance rely on uncapped popups as banners just won't generate much for message boards. Advertisers also don't like to take the risk that a message board could have a negative comment or something inapproriate slip out from time to time even if it is moderated. This makes finding ads for a message board tough.
A lot of message boards are operated at a loss and as a part of a host site that they are meant to help support. Message boards can be a cheap means to use ones visitors to provide invaluable feedback about changes in your niche area that you can write about on the nonmessage board parts of your site. One can find potential writers to contribute content to a given site via how they post in a site's message boards too. Message boards can generate loyalty, community, news, and help a site locate contacts, but they are seldom a money making center in and of themselves except for perhaps those in a few specialized areas.
Things to Keep In Mind and Forum Web Hosting Options
Message boards can be CPU intensive. A big factor in how cpu intensive a board can be is the number of users online at the same time.
The more users a forum has and the more posts it has the larger the database that will have to be searched or maintained so in general more users equals a need for a larger hosting account with more disk space and more CPU power.
Forum users can post anything a forum operator can only moderate things after they are posted. This opens up potential liability should a company not like what people on your forum are posting.
|How to Monetize Message Boards
Traditional banner ads are not effective for message boards and ones options for ad networks are far more limited as forum traffic generally generates a poorer response to advertiser's ads.
Keeping this in mind there are ways to monetize a forum short of uncapped popups which some free forum providers are having to do to stay around. Possible ways to monetize a forum include: *Read more
Benefits of Message Boards
1. They help retain traffic that can be later sent to areas of your site that are not forum based that can be more easily monetized.
2. Message Boards are loyalty and brand builders and could be helpful should one later choose to market services or products in your industry if you are not already.
3. Message Boards allow one to keep an eye on people important in your industry via them gathering in your forum.
4. Forums are good feedback centers, and can allow a webmaster to be able to better prioritize non forum content according to what forum members are talking about most. *Read more about message board Benefits
Examples of Forums as a Loss Leader in Effect
Webhostingtalk.com was acquired by Rackshack the largest provider of unmanaged dedicated servers in the world. The acquisition of a forum that might not even break even gave Rackshack instant prestige. Who ever owns and operates the largest forum on a given topic is going of be thought of favorably in their industry.
Bodybuilding.com provides an advertising free forum that serves to reinforce the idea that this company is a leader in their industry and their supplements and other products they sale are probably good too.
Major Message Board Software Not Free
Vbulletin is easily the most feature rich message board software out there which runs well with a small amount of system resources. Vbulletin allows one to have private forums, block users by ip or email address, and has built in word censor ability among other features. *Read More
UBB Ultimate Bulletin Board - this is largely the standard message board software before Vbulletin entered the scene as a cheaper more resource friendly alternative. This program I consider to not be as good as Vbulletin and it costs more. Free forum software from Ikonboard or YABB might be a better choice also than resource intensive UBB.*Read More about UBB
Free Message Board Software
YABB *Read More
Ikonboard - a popular free message board software with support online. The company that makes it also provides free remotely hosted forums, and forums hosted with no ads for a fee. *Read More
PhpBB2 - another free message board software program made popular by web host Hostnexus' that provides it free to its hosting customers. *Read More