Why is it that businesses shy away from forums? Yes, I know they require careful moderation, and yes I know forum members will have their own opinions regarding what they want to talk about, but there are still situations where forums are invaluable. Here are a couple examples:
1. A business providing adventure tours. A forum could be set up to allow customers who have been on a tour to share their experience and show off their snaps. In doing this it becomes a great resource for those who are considering signing up for a tour. In other words in this scenario existing customers become an important part of the sales force! The business owner can share in the conversations on the forum, but does not have to drive them. In fact that would be counter-productive.
2. An entertainment venue/club catering to the young adult market. The club may regular nights and special events – perhaps for club members. By providing this group with a forum the business is providing them with a “voice” and a means of expressing their shared experiences (… read “Goss”). So what’s the point? The point is that in one step the business has achieved that most difficult thing: sustained and regular contact with it’s market. It is not important what this customer group talks about. What is important is that they talk about it on the businesses “patch”. With that level of contact all sorts of marketing possibilities arise.
The choice as to whether to adopt a Blog or Forum as an aid to social networking involves a balance between many issues and objectives. If you would like to go down this path start by doing some research on the Internet. There is no shortage of information out there. On the other hand, if it seems interesting but a little daunting, feel free to contact me .