Did you know that, according to Forrester research, consumers rated forums and discussions boards as the most desired addition to media and company webpages? Forums allow consumers to discuss products and services, and often with a certain level of anonymity. This gives internet goers the unique freedom to discuss products, services, and companies openly, and as honestly as possible. What goes into creating a forum, and why is it an increasingly important opportunity for marketers?
How Can I Start a Forum?
Starting a forum can be fairly simple, especially when using community forum software. Free discussion forum software eliminates the need for a in-depth web design and coding knowledge. Companies can, instead, focus on greater issues, like encouraging relevant conversation, moderating forums for foul language and inappropriate content, and more. According to Patrick O’Keefe, author of Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards, “To start your community off right, you must have your mind in the right place. You should know what your community is, what you are trying to accomplish, what you’ll need to do to accomplish it, and you need to ensure that you can provide the community with the stability that it needs to flourish long into the future.”
What are the Benefits of Running a Forum?
Many Americans do not realize that forums are actually the precursor of modern social media sites. In other words, there is already a good deal of precedent proving that consumers enjoy open and honest discussion, and encouraging discussion works. What are some of the benefits of free discussion forums, and forum ratings?
- Forums target consumers. Company forums are highly unlikely to get traffic from consumers completely uninterested, or unfamiliar, with a given service or product. Most customers seek out forums because they want more information about products, or because they have used them and want to discuss experiences with other users. Forum directories and forum ratings make discussion even more convenient, helping consumers pinpoint the best places for discussion.
- Forums can help measure customer satisfaction and identify areas for opportunity and growth. Archived discussion gives corporate heads and analysts concrete comments and feedback. Companies can refer back to comments, feedback, and ratings when it is most convenient for them.
- Forums give consumers the luxury of time. Live chats and social media platforms typically offer fleeting opportunities, or opportunities for limited discussion. Forums give customers the opportunity to post whenever they want. Consumers do not have a 140 character limit, or other common restrictions, so they are able to be direct, or offer more in-depth feedback. Consumers can easily post rules or FAQ, too, by using a sticky post, which will appear as the first thread in a forum.
Forums inspired the creation of today’s social media, and, therefore, has a proven track record. Get concrete feedback from customers, and give consumers what they want, by offering discussion boards, forum directories, and forum ratings.