communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.


Forums, communities or "you know what's funny about Internet?"

Yesterday I spent about 15 minutes listening to someone talking at RoTweetMeet (yes, only 15 minutes, because I am trying to get a life so I spend more time with friends and less with colleagues :) about forums. He had a good point, namely that, when we talk about social media, we hardly ever mention forums, although it seems that they tend to be a bit more active than the rest, and also handsomely improve the demographic pool. That is, they are not exclusively made of horny 15-y-olds or alternately 60-y-olds or cool, urban wannabes {please humor me and guess which SM I am talking about :)}.

The fact is that he was right. Forums are swarming with people who are devoted to the the topics, who really want to discuss what is being discussed, who go through the trouble of logging in etc etc. So fact is: forums give you that elusive and magical thing we all look for, engagement.
Now the problem is, and this is where the "you know what's funny about Internet?" part comes in, just like maaaany other successful stuff online, forums are hard to brand and use if you want to do advertising per se.
what can you do? well,
- forum branded takeovers - recolor the page
- banners - and we know how everyone feels about those
-sticky posts - basically you trick them people there into reading your message by pretending to be one of them
- floating banners - banners, only smarter
- logo interaction - veeery costly
...hmmmm, just your regular, run of the mill stuff.
The bad part about all of these is that they basically lack what forums have, engagement (unless made properly but this is another story). The solution is, again, part of the "funny about Internet" area: it is committment and relationship development. Forums should be treated very much like your group of friends should. You need to call them constantly, invite them over, get them presents for their bdays, talk to them and listen to what they have to say, etc.
Interestingly this is exactly what we have been telling clients Internet is NOT, namely fast, easy, cheap. This is slow, costly, takes committment, involvement... :-)
Also interestingly, the only things that are fast, easy, cheap online are the ones which are said not to work like, say, banners. Or something that a fat guy makes in his basement with a camera and a Darth Vader sword. The rest take work.
Funny, huh?

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