How many times has it happened that the first thing that came to our mind when we thought of promoting our business online, were the social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter etc? We all are mesmerized by the enigma called “social media marketing”. Speak to any marketing expert and the first thing he will say is “You ought to be where your consumer is” and rightly so, social media websites are the most engaging platforms for consumers today. The average time spent on such platform far exceeds any other medium, including the traditional Television. So is it wrong for brand/marketing managers to spend a huge chunk of their time on such platforms? Yes and No.
Yes, because these platforms are arguably the best set of platforms that help us to create awareness about our products, improve brand image and thereby increase sale. And a ‘No’ because we end up ignoring the oldest and the original social media platform known as ‘Forums.’ Given below are 4 reasons why we should spend some more time on discussion forums and not just limit the usage to create back links and answer consumer complaints.
1. It’s where the real discussion takes place – Just like you have Facebook for fun, LinkedIn for professional networking and so on, the same way discussion forum is a place meant for discussion. Users coming on this platform are the ones who seriously want to discuss something. Managers need to use this platform to engage with these users and try to convert them from normal users to ‘Brand evangelists’
2. Know what your consumers are talking about – While you can still engage with consumers following your social media profiles, discussion forum is the best platform where you can get real time category trends. How is it different? Well, discussion happening on your social media page is and will be specific to your product where as discussion taking place on forums might still start with products, but they tend to shift towards categories. We as managers could use this information to catch the shifting trends in consumer behavior. It also acts as an excellent platform to get competition data, as in, users visiting such forums will also compare your product with your competition and that’s how you could get first hand review about your competition.
3. A platform for market research – How many of us realize that dedicated forums can be one of the best places for a comprehensive market research. Coming up with a new product? launching a new service? An add-on feature to an existing product? Scout through the relevant discussion forums, catch the latest trends, post relevant questions about the need that you want to satisfy and that’s how easy it is to get first hand consumer insight.
4. A safe platform to get candid product feedback – While social media platforms are also safe platforms to get product feedback, discussion forums have some additional benefits. First of all, unlike social media platforms, discussion forums are generally closed groups and the threat of some feedback going viral is less. Secondly, discussion forums are not limited in terms of access, as in you don’t need to follow a company to receive their posts, hence the kind of feedback that you will receive will be unbiased and candid. So, as a manager you could analyze the feedback, make necessary changes, roll out the final product and yes! This time you could and should post that launch on all the social media platforms.