Where Do Forums Fit Into Social Media Marketing?

When managing a company’s online presence, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of becoming fixated on only one aspect of social media. However, if you’re in charge of managing social media for a business, it’s important to give consideration to all facets and that includes forums.

As someone that previously worked at an internet marketing company, I was always amused when a client would become obsessed with their Facebook or Myspace profile (yes, this was a few years back) and ask us to dedicate an unreasonable amount of resources to managing it. It was usually the higher up suits that hear the word “Facebook” all the time and automatically conclude it would be best to dedicate 100% of their resources to it.

What I wish clients like that would realize is that each aspect of social media is only a tool (if you haven’t already, read Josh’s post on social media ROI). Just because something is popular, it doesn’t mean you will be automatically riding that popularity too if you use it. Whether the tool is Twitter, Facebook, forums, or something else… the specific tool won’t determine your ROI. What will determine your ROI is the talent of the person in charge of a particular tool.

Where do forums fit in?
As mentioned, it’s easy for businesses to fall into the trap of only focusing on whatever is hottest and newest. If that works for them, great! But at the same time, it’s important to dedicate some resources to other areas of social media. Let me give you an example…

On my site, I would prefer the discussion to revolve around positive things like credit card deals, but a lot of people come to the site just to complain about a particular credit card. For example, this negative thread recently popped up about GE Money Bank credit cards. This thread is still young which means GE Money Bank could easily reply and calm down the original poster, but they don’t bother.

In fact, there are purported complaints on many forums and blogs about their credit cards but to the best of my knowledge, I have never seen GE Money Bank respond and try to make peace with anyone. However, GE Money Bank appears to dedicate adequate resources to their Twitter account and addresses any concerns or complaints that are tweeted.

In a nutshell, they have Twitter covered but are ignoring other social media outlets. Does that make sense? Especially being that the aforementioned forum thread about GE Money Bank credit cards might very well be showing up in searches for years to come. To me, the logical thing to would be to address all areas of social media instead of only focusing on Twitter and Facebook. This is why I always encourage credit card companies to come on the site and interact with the posters, but thus far, only one or two ever have.

Plastic surgeons get it
If there’s one industry that understands the importance of diversifying resources, it seems to be the big city plastic surgeons. When I worked at an internet marketing company in Los Angeles, strangely enough it was only the plastic surgeon clients that right off the bat understood the importance of keeping tabs on all facets of social media. They were less concerned about what social media site/service was hot, and more focused on covering everything.

I know many plastic surgeons would prowl the plastic surgery message boards themselves and as soon as anything negative was posted, they would go into defense mode and reply with their side of the story. One rhinoplasty surgeon I knew even teamed up with a plastic surgery forum, by having them create his own board on the site where he would do Q&A with the posters… now that’s smart!

The lesson?
Take a cue from the hot shot Beverly Hills plastic surgeons… if you’re responsible for managing social media, make sure you pay attention to all areas. The amount of weight needed for each area varies depending on the type of business, but all I’m saying is to at least make sure you consider everything that’s out there.

This post was contributed by guest blogger & ex-internet marketer Michael who writes about credit card deals on his site CreditCardForum.

image by Andres Rueda

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