Social communities, such as Telligent Community, use forum applications and add-ons to create a socially-driven environment that flourishes with conversation, debate and questions. Online communities today thrive on the alive, interactive and pleasantly spontaneous nature of forums, but just how do you define a forum?
If you’re curious about what makes a forum a forum, and how they can benefit an organization’s employees, customers and suppliers, read on to find out more.
What is a forum? Let’s define the feature
Forums can be discussion forums or Q&A forums. Discussion forums are highly popular, almost ubiquitous in public use, type of forum in which users interact in ‘threads’. Threads are essentially different conversations, usually concerning a particular topic. Q&A forums, or simply question and answer forums, are a more structured version of a discussion forum, which can include ‘suggested answers’ and ‘accepted answers’. The aim of a Q&A forum is to find a concrete solution to a user’s question, whereas a discussion forum user may be more concerned with multiple users’ varying insights, debate and opinion. Of course this can change depending on the thread and forum.
Forums hold multiple advantages, such as helping businesses to resolve customer service issues, promoting brand awareness and trust, delivering key insights to a business and promoting search engine friendly user generated content.
Customer service benefits of using a forum
Using a forum, whether Q&A or discussion, can be particularly useful for letting your community self-resolve other customers’ queries and questions. The upside to this is that it means you can cut back on staff shifts, leading to a more economical and streamlined business and a happier customer service team!
Brand strengthening benefits of forums
When users online see your organization’s forum up and running, they associate it with having real people behind the business. The fact that customers are posting queries, and interacting with each other, means that your business is seen as a place where people can have their say – customers respect this. This rings especially true if you staff are seen to be interacting with the community as well. Top tip: try nominating ‘company experts’ to join your forum, they can get involved with customer queries when other users can help, they can also confirm other customers’ solutions, giving the community a reassuring – but minimal effort – backup. Operating in this way, your brand will thrive online.
How forums can deliver key business insights
Moderators: keep a close eye on your forum. Why? Not just to crack down on unwanted content or ‘rule-breaking’, but to see what your customers are saying and what their thoughts are on your brand. With this key information on what ultimately keeps your business afloat (your customers), you can use the findings to form the basis of your next marketing campaign, strategy or idea.
Searchable content that builds authority over time
User generated content, it seems to be a buzzword today across marketing forums. This is because through reviews, comments and other content created by users, you not only build up a transparent brand authority to the public eye, but you also end up with new, index-able content for search engines. As your customers are likely to be talking about aspects relating to your business, products and services, they are also likely to be using the words, phrases and brand names associated with it, which will result in you having a naturally-occurring, keyword-rich SEO strategy for your brand!
Speak to us about implementing your forum today
To find out more about the benefits of using a forum for your organization, get in touch with us today – we’d love to speak with you and help you on the way to new digital opportunities.