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What are some easy ways to ensure your forum members stay loyal rather than leaving for a competitor's site?
Treat your forum members with respect and dignity and don't condescend when they share personal situations on forum. Each person has their own unique story and the point of a forum is to share and learn from others.
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Just be friends with these people on forum and talk to them as if they are your friends. You don't need tricks to make your forum members stick around.
I don't think there is a sure-way formula for this because forum members are usually there because they enjoy the topics and also the community. There are forum members who become friends. Just like in one forum, I was surprised to receive 2 private messages when I joined. And they were members of one forum that I had joined before. They were both asking why I did not go back to that forum anymore, one said that they were worried about me. Isn't it nice? And for the loyalty to your forum, I guess they will stay as long as the situation remains or it turns for the better - interesting topics, friendly members, good banter in the posts.