Podcast: SL@P 001 - Create and Maintain a Website Forum
Welcome to Slap NC’s Podcast. This is episode 001 and is a soft introduction to our podcasts. In this podcast, we discuss our decision to create and maintain a forum for our law firm. The forum can be found and viewed at Wallace Pierce Law’s Accident Forum.
Our forum was created to allow any visitor to our site to post a question for one of our personal injury lawyers to respond to. We wanted to create a marketing tool that drove traffic to our website and domain. Most SEO (Search Engine Marketing) and SEM (Search Engine Marketing) techniques require some amount of traffic, and the more traffic you get, the better you are able to test and hone your site. We felt that creating and maintaining a forum could aid us in driving the right kind of traffic to our website.
More than driving traffic to the website, we wanted a mechanism to build trust with visitors who would likely be returning to the website. A forum is an excellent way to ensure that the visitor comes back to the site to view the response from one of our lawyers. Nothing builds trust faster on the internet than giving something of value (our attorney’s time and responses) away for free. Building trust is a fantastic way to increase the likelihood of converting that potential client to an actual client.
More than just answering questions about personal injury law in North Carolina, we are relying on a sophisticated internal linking strategies to ensure that clients get information and are directed to other places and articles on our website. For example, a client asks a questions and a lawyer responds with an answer and a link directing them to read more about this issue on our website. This builds trust and increases the possibility of us becoming their lawyer.
It is important to remember that there is a cost to having a forum. We have realized that the cost is high, but it’s not a monetary cost. The forum software that we use is free, open source, and is called PhpBB. There is a awesome support team and community that comes with PhpBB that will assist you with any reasonable question you may have if you try to install this yourself. Also, the documentation is comprehensive. If you decide to hire someone to assist you with the install, it should take them more than 10 – 15 minutes if they have any experience with php and mysql. Naturally, there will be a cost to host this but if you already have a site, it shouldn’t be any extra. Currently we using Bluehost and Linode for our hosting and domains.
Keeping the forum running, monitoring the posts, and ensuring that posts are being answered is a different cost altogether. It takes time to answer questions, create links and ensure that spammers are not attacking the forum (which is easy to stop). Regardless of how busy you are, if you are running the forum, it is essential to keep answering questions. Nothing will destroy trust more than letting a bunch of unanswered posts sit on the forum.
If you do decide to maintain a forum, consider ruling it with an iron fist. You don’t want unlicensed and unknown individuals following up on your posts and giving their two cents in a way that is negative or hurtful to the environment that you are attempting to nurture.
Thanks for Listening
And lastly, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly. Cheers and thanks for listening!
Jared Pierce hung his own shingle right out of law school and has spent every minute since then discovering the joys and difficulties of chasing success. Anyone who has ever met Jared will tell you h