Today many of us are engaging with our target audience through social networks. One of the first ways of networking on the web was through internet forums. Forums allow one to: share ideas, provide advice or value to your audience, start a poll, run a debate, or simply engage in a conversation with your audience. When you participate in forums, you are also branding yourself and bringing awareness to your business. The more questions you answer, and more conversations you participate in, the more people will be able to recognize you. In forums you can add a topic of interest, ask questions, or comment on others topics or categories. The forum may not be in real-time like chats, but over time forums will help your business build a trusted online community. Social media is all about two-way conversations, participation and trust, forums allow you to engage in all these avenues to bring the most value and credibility to your business.
Remember, a forum is a medium for ongoing discussions on a particular subject. There is a moderator who monitors the conversation to be sure the rules and regulations are set up by the forum owners. The member can start a topic, which allows others to comment on and discuss in conjunction with previous posts. Members can also subscribe to a thread through RSS (really simple syndication), this will send the member a notification when a new comment has been added to the thread. This two-way conversation is called a thread. How can you form a thread?
Forums have user groups which is a sum of people (members) that grows from a specific topic of discussion. A forum group is a simple way for members to be more focused on a topic they wish to discuss. When group members talk about a specific passion or interest they create a bond; this bond turns converts in to loyalty and trust—consequently creating a community. A community that makes the network effective in the long run. For example say you participate in a forum all about flowers. After a while, the members of the forum get to know you from the many contributions you have made in the forum. Then say someone was trying to grow a garden and was wondering which type of flower would be best in the winter time. As a resource, the members in the forum would trust your opinion and this is how you build strong credibility within forums. Now that you know enough to participate in forums, which applications are the best ones suited for your specific needs?
Ektron.com lets you build and manage your own website and network, however if you are not looking to start from scratch you can use the forum sites that are available on the web.
Kickapp.com is a platform that makes it easy for you to add that makes it feasible to add social features to your website that will allow others to become aware of your product.
Other forum sites include: Big Boards (http://www.big-boards.com)
Action Steps √
1. Search and pick a topic of interest.
2. Participate in the discussions within that topic and think about the trusted network and loyalty this forum is providing you and see what you can gain from it.
3. After enough experience go ahead and set-up your own forum through Yuku.com or Ektron.com and build your own online community.
Related articles by
- Community Manager Tip: Meet People in Person (fastwonderblog.com)
- Driving Customer Engagement Through Online Communities (socialreflections.com)
- Review: Building Your Own Social Network (hilarytopper.com)