Forums are a great way to interact with your members or customers, and get access to loads of great content, but with so many options to choose from, what do I think is best?
Well really I have to say Facebook. Why?
- Like most forums, Facebook has the ability for anyone authorised to start a thread, or to comment on a post.
- Facebook also has the multimedia element, making it easier for anyone to post a photo or video or links etc on your wall.
- The absolute bonus of social media, is that for anyone who participates in your forum, their friends/family will see their posts, giving additional marketing benefits to your business.
- In addition, many people don't return to a forum very opten, but with facebook, if they have "liked your page" then they will continue to see updates of new postings in your forum, which may encourage them to return.
- With Facebook, the member security is taken care off, and almost everyone now has a facebook login, and they only have to login once to access your forum and any other forums, or personal social networking features they may use. This aspect of security is very important, as a forum needs to be easy to participate in, while preventing spammers advertising in your space.
So yes, I am pretty much just totally endorsing Facebook. But what about our own forums? Why do we not promote those?
- There are so many competing forum products, and constantly they all deal with the same issues, adding functionality, while making it easy to navigate a forum with alot of content, and keeping the spammers and hackers at bay.
- Our own forums are perfect for blogging, guestbooks, community classified advert, and perhaps low-medium sized forums. However, I would really encourage anyone who intends to have a truly busy forum, to start with a more robus forum from day 1. We decided that forums are not our core business, and so there will be no future development or improvement over the current forum functions we currently provide.
What other forum options are there?
- www.Facebook.com is great because it's so popular, graphical, and everyone already has a login
- Other social media sites like www.ning.com can be used to build your own branded and closed social network, with equivilent functionality to facebook, but this does require your users to have yet another username/password to remember.
- Sites like http://groups.yahoo.com and http://groups.google.com also help you to create your own forums, and they take care of the user security etc. These groups tend to be more text oriented and suit more academic or technical subjects.
- Beware many of the PHP powered forums, these forums need to be maintained by technically competent security administrators. It takes more than a content administrator to keep these forums clean. PHP forums are open souce, and hackers are constantly finding holes that they can attack.