Where’s Your Forum Strategy?

by · April 26, 201227 comments

Social Media Explorer is gearing up to launch our first-ever research report called The Conversation. For the first edition of this new approach to market research, we’ll be focusing on the banking industry. You’ll want to make sure you subscribe to updates about our Industry Reports if you haven’t already to find out about the report as it’s released, though we’ll certainly blog about it more here.

For this new product, we’re taking the industry in question and looking at what consumers are saying about it in the online conversational marketplace. Whether it’s on blogs, news sites, social networks, microblogs and more, we’re trying to find the conversations around a given industry and dissect them to better understand what the customer is saying and thinking in an unfiltered, unadulterated environment like the social web. No one is asking these people survey questions while holding a clipboard. We’re finding the conversations, not the people.

One insight that emerged from our deep dive into the banking industry is that the majority, actually the vast majority, of conversations about banks and bank products online are held not on blogs or social networks, but on forums and message boards. The old school social media channels account for 90 percent of the conversations we discovered about banks and bank products.

Top Conversation Sources - Banking Conversations

Top sources for online banking conversations. Data and graph courtesy of NetBase.

Which brings to mind the question, “Where is your forum strategy?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you have to have one. And yes, I’m well aware there’s some trendy, smart-ass meme going around claiming that Twitter, Facebook, blogs and even social media itself aren’t mediums that need strategies. If it makes you nit-pickers feel better, let me rephrase: Where are forums in your plans?

The answer for most marketers is, “they’re not.” This is likely because marketers don’t realize how much of the online conversation takes place in the consumers-gone-wild world of threaded conversations. But it could also be because marketers are petrified of them. Why? Because marketers typically aren’t welcome there. Most forum administrators are quick to thwart link droppers and promotional banner wavers. You can’t blame them. The users come there for … wait for it … conversations.

And as we’ve talked about already this week, marketers don’t know how to participate in those.

While The Conversation: What Consumers Are Saying About Banking will have advice for bank marketers and the agencies that serve them on how to combat the challenges we uncover, we’re going to do our part here to discuss how to approach forums and message boards, should they offer fertile conversational ground for your brand.

In the meantime, you should get a copy of Patrick O’Keefe’s Managing Online Forums or check out his thoughts on marketing in forums and message boards in one of his presentations on the subject.

Note: Amazon links are of the affiliate kind.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9302789 Craig Kessler

    Forums are difficult because there may be an entry to barrier to get involved, and it is really a niche space where one has to gain credibility.  Even if you are just trying to join the conversation you need to establish yourself, and if you are a marketer, you have to go beyond to join the conversation before imploring any sort of marketing message.  I’m surprised to hear that the banking industry is still strong on forums although my guess is a lot involved are older and are more used to forums than other social media platforms.  Personal Finance is more geared on blogs and niche related sites.  Anyways, less than a strategy, but have someone who really becomes an expert otherwise the trolls will eat you up.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Well said, Craig. It’s astonishing how few brands are paying attention to this space. And while most probably aren’t suffering because of it, they sure aren’t taking advantage of the opportunity. I participated in a few forums around the spirits industry back when I was working with Maker’s Mark, Jim Beam and others. I never sold or pushed at all and we all got along just fine. One forum admin even offered to post the information about a new product launch because I didn’t want to come across as spamming the board. It’s not a hard thing to do — build credibility there — just takes time.

  • Becca Seo

    People have their various way of strategy for Forum. Strategies are meant to make or 
    break your brand.It’s a matter of taking the right action.


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  • yoursocial fans

    YourSocialFans.com can help you attract thousands of followers that you can keep informed about any of your product or service offerings instantly. By bringing you a targeted crowd of buyers all you need to do is give them an offer they can’t refuse! Branding is also another successful tool Twitter can provide for your business. As more and more people become followers of your page it builds trust in them and they are more likely to buy from you than your competitor, because they have been following the brand and it’s a brand they trust.

  • http://ecommerce-web-design.spinxwebdesign.com/ Ecommerce Website Design

    Forums are always be a very useful for a company for knowing the consumers thoughts for the products. Also, from forums you can provide a one type of customer care service as if customers have facing some problems in product and they posted this on forum and you reply it back with solution. From this customers also get satisfy.

  • http://allmarketingsolutions.co.uk/social-media-marketing-services Ayaz

    Great tips! 

    Personally, I was not a big fan of doing forums commenting but after reading this post I will certainly make a plan to start commenting on the forums.

    It will be nice if you guide me a little about how to start commenting on forums to get the better results for my niche.

    Thanks for sharing great information.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks for the comment. I’m actually working on a piece now about that very question. Stay tuned!

  • TurboT2

    If you are interested in reaching and engaging with users in forums and communities, take a look at http://www.PostRelease.com

    PostRelease is a content marketing platform that provides the ease and control of display ads while delivering the higher performance and deeper engagement of content. Your content is automatically inserted into the content well of contextually relevant forums, blogs and content sites.

  • http://www.webpartnergroup.com/ Websiite Design

    Not really into forums. But from what I’ve seen, members have this connection and look to each other for advice within this platform. It’s like a lounge room where people hang out.

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  • http://brandoptions.in/ Social Media Marketing

    Agree.. forums are the best place for discussions and elaborate comments and feedbacks. Companies / brands should have a strategy in place to handle discussions in forums or initiate discussions. They should have the capability to handle positive as well as negative discussions, which will help in online reputation management

  • http://www.ifroggy.com Patrick O’Keefe

    Thanks for the mention, Jason! I appreciate it.

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  • Zeeash01

    Generate mass exposure through Google +

  • SopiaGreen

    Nice post. Effective marketing is needed in order to succeed in business. With effective marketing skills, an entrepreneur can turn even the dreariest of businesses into a gold mine. The right marketing skills can help a person attract the market to his or her business.

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