Create a Forum to Start Conversations on Your Site

The most popular websites are active and engaging. Creating a space where visitors can interact with you and each other is the key to site success.

Posting updated content on a regular basis and communicating with users who visit your site are two of the best ways to foster interactions. But there’s another strategy to jumpstart lively conversations online: create a forum.

With WordPress.com, there are multiple ways to engage with visitors through forum-like interactions, including the conversation-friendly P2 theme and other comment management tools.

What is the P2 theme?

This two-column theme features a front-end editor for comments and blog posts. No matter what page you’re on within your site, you can create content and respond to comments in a few steps. You can use the posting box at the top of the page to create a new post, and the menu bar next to each post to edit any live content.

However, the most powerful part of the P2 theme is its live commenting feature.

Create a forum with P2

Within the P2 theme, you’ll notice a live feed of recent updates, including comments on each of your posts. Visitors can reply to your content and to each other’s comments right on your site’s homepage. This encourages vibrant conversations and fosters a community around the posts you publish.

Clicking the Follow button below each post will send email notifications to visitors. This allows them to stay up-to-date on a particular thread. They can also can add images and embed videos from YouTube or other sites within their comments.

Since you can view every update in one window, you won’t need to jump from page to page in order to track the recent activity on your site. This allows you to be much more responsive to user comments. Click the Reply button next to each post to quickly respond to any comments that warrant your attention.

Real-time communication is important when building a sense of community on your site. It helps you create a forum where people feel comfortable engaging in conversation with you and each other.

Start a conversation in the comments section

If you decide not to launch a separate forum using the P2 theme, you can still take advantage of other comment management tools to build user engagement and create a forum-like environment.

You can manage comments from your WordPress.com Dashboard. From the Dashboard, you’ll notice the comments you received, including those that are pending, approved, marked as spam, or trashed. This feature allows you to monitor what users are saying about your site, so that you can respond in a timely manner.

You can also nurture the kinds of conversations that you want on your site. If someone leaves an offensive comment or says something that might damage to your business’s reputation, you can filter these comments and follow up with the user privately to discuss their concerns.

Most importantly, moderating the conversations that occur on your site creates a welcoming place where everyone feels comfortable talking to you and to each other. It may not be a forum to the extent that the P2 theme is, but it’s still a way to keep the conversation flowing.

Make your website a place for community outreach

If you want to keep users coming back to your site, make it a welcoming place for them to engage in conversation. Allow people to comment on new articles, keep comments open for older articles, and if it makes sense for your site, take advantage of the P2 theme to encourage real-time communication.

If you take these steps, you’ll build an active online community of enthusiastic users who are excited about supporting your blog or business.

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Satta Sarmah Hightower

Satta Sarmah is a writer, editor and content marketing manager who launched her first personal website a decade ago — on WordPress, of course.

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