Don’t dismiss web forums during social media campaigns

A range of industries, including financial institutions, small businesses and technology sectors, rely on social media campaigns to promote their products, build customer loyalty and develop a channel for communicating with customers. While social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, are the more traditional channels companies rely on, web forums are an overlooked medium that can have a powerful effect on a company’s customer base.

Forums and message boards are typically the preferred and more popular method consumers use to talk about products, rank companies, share their experiences and recommend services, moreso than Facebook and Twitter, according to Entrepreneur magazine. There are a variety of message boards, ranging from those operated on a company or retailer’s site or those that are created online by consumers themselves. Given all of the options for reaching out to customers who have utilized a product or service, many individuals are driven toward these websites because they provide more of an opportunity to have conversations with other users.

For these reasons, experts say that businesses should pay more attention to these forums and establish a presence to better market themselves to current customers or those that are interested in their company. However, there are several steps businesses are encouraged to follow to avoid coming on too strong or alienating their customer base. For example, business owners will benefit by steering clear of marketing pitches and overly-promoting their products, Entrepreneur reports. Consumers typically visit message boards and forums to gain objective insight into companies, rather than hearing a sales pitch. Those who are bombarded with promotional information from the onset are likely to view the forum as a non-credible resource and seek out information elsewhere.

In addition, experts also discourage business owners from starting discussions about products and services. Forums are an effective way to gauge customer perceptions and correct misunderstandings about services or products. Rather than starting a message about a new item or the great level of service extended, businesses are advised to chime in to support good reviews about a company or explain other aspects that may be hazy. In addition, when it comes to poor reviews, it’s crucial to take negative criticism in stride and avoid lashing out at consumers. This can make a company appear immature and may result in the sender being flagged or banned from posting on the forum.

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