2 Questions on Discourse & Its Market


(Eddie) #1

Hey everyone! First, I just wanted to say how much I appreciate Discourse and the work that goes into the project. Been following Discourse for awhile and it looks better everyday.

Anyways, I have two main questions.

  1. I know it will depend on the community, but typically how many people does it take to get a forum rolling? Would it be around 200 or can it be more/less? Just trying to see how large a community would need to be to really see a benefit and where it would get enough engagement to need a forum.

  2. Do you see there being any potential of using Discourse with offline businesses/communities? I’m a marketer/web designer and think there are opportunities for some businesses to really take advantage of Discourse. Thinking more like Gyms/health clubs, schools/education, local/city, etc… Basically places that already have a community in place offline but could use a forum to make it easier to connect and discuss issues online. Do you think there’s a market for helping these communities establish themselves online?

Would appreciate any of your thoughts and input. Thanks!


(Sam Saffron) #2

I am going through the same exact exercise now and think I have come up with the correct number :slight_smile:

It takes 5 people.

That is all.

5 people that interact daily (meaning post at least one post a day) on a forum is enough to give it life.

Any less than 5 feels a bit strange, it is too hard to be motivated to keep going back.

Absolutely, our email support is pretty excellent, so you can easily compose replies and interact via email which can be very asynchronous.


(Eddie) #3

Thanks for the reply @sam

I think you’re right that it only takes 5 very dedicated members to get a forum going. However, my main question was how many people does it usually take before hand to justify setting up/paying for a forum?

If I were to approach a business and help them setup a forum I would want to make sure that they have enough customers or have enough interested customers to justify creating a forum for them. This is because not all their customers would sign-up, then there would a percentage of those users who aren’t active, somewhat active, very active, and then every-day users.

Let’s say a business would have 500 customers > 300 customers take the action of signing up to the forum > 100 are inactive members (login once a month) > 150 are somewhat active (login once a week) > 50 are really active (login once a day)

I know that it will vary on the community/business but is that a somewhat realistic example?

Just wondering how many customers a business would need in order to create an active forum. My current thinking is that a business would need about 200 customers to reach that handful of very dedicated members

For my second question I wasn’t specifically talking about email. I was asking about creating forums for businesses that they can use to interact with customers/prospects to add more value, increase retention rates, upsell services, and build stronger customer relationships. More specifically, Gyms/Health Clubs typically already have a community of hundreds of members but have a very limited opportunity to communicate/stay in touch with members outside the gym.

A forum would make it easy for members to communicate with each other, gives them easy access to chat with trainers, stay up to date with group classes, and gives the gym more power to monitor member behavior with the forums email digests and analytic reports.

Sorry for the rant. Just an idea I’ve had for a while, but would really appreciate input from someone really experienced with Discourse and if other people have tried doing something similar.


(Dave McClure) #4

Have you read Running Lean?

It sounds like you have a pretty specific idea here about the kind of thing you want to pursue. It might be worth getting a single Discourse instance set up and reaching out to some of the gyms and gym members you have connections with. Start experimenting small and keep iterating based on the feedback you get from these people to see if you can validate your idea.


(Eddie) #5

I have not read Running Lean, I’ll have to check that out, thanks!

Yes, I do have a very specific idea. Partly came up with the idea from my own problem of going to the gym.

Many people go to the gym shy and uneducated about health and fitness. They might be intimidated by other members and trainers but an online forum gives them a way to reach out, ask questions, and seek motivation more easily. Makes it easier for gym trainers to reach out and message people on the forum to build stronger relationships. Helping both the member and the trainer.

Also works great for the people on the other end of the spectrum who are very serious about health and fitness. They can get feedback on their workouts, diet, and see what other members are doing to maximize their health.

Gyms pride themselves on having a friendly and helpful community/environment to make it easier for people to seek out help and reach their goals. However, most gyms do very little in terms of member outreach outside the gym (unless you have your own personal trainer) so gyms essentially put their members into the wild without much resources or help.

This is why I think having a gym forum/message board could offer so much value to members, trainers, and the gym.


(Erlend Sogge Heggen) #6

I think it’d be really cool to have something like edublogs.org or cobot.me - but Discourse-based - for gyms. In a similar vein as what @mcwumbly already pointed out though, surely there’s gotta be some gyms out there that already do something like this at least to a small extent? You should track down as many localised & gym-related discussions you can possibly find and study them.

Btw, the reason @sam brought up email is because it’s a great onboarding tool. Many users might have reservations about hopping onto yet another platform, but if your help@mygym.com address creates PMs of incoming messages and stages accounts for customers’ emails, you get your staff comfortable with the platform while gently introducing the idea to customers that “it’s cool that you care enough to interact with us; maybe you’d like to interact with other gym members as well?”.


(Eddie) #7

Thanks, those are some good examples of something similar but serving different needs and markets.

There are many online discussion forums for health and fitness (online training, blogs, etc…) However, I’m having difficulty finding forums made specifically for local gyms. Do you know any local gyms that run a forum/message board?

Ok, yea the email feature could be used in the forum too. Might be a useful feature to mention.

Have to work on the sales process and how to market it to gym owners. Since this isn’t really a “known service” I have to pitch the idea to them perfectly and may have to offer a free trial just to get the owner open to the idea.