There is a strange whisper out in the land of social media that because of the ability of social networking sites like Facebook, Ning and MySpace to create groups, discussions and other multi-person avenues of communication, old bulletin boards, message boards and forums are rapidly becoming obsolete.
Well, okay, maybe that is true, to an extent. Most people are able communicate through these free platforms. People can connect with each other on these sites, sharing ideas and generally finding a way to circumvent the “old school” style of boards and forums. Facebook is more convenient than a forum, since it connects people with friends, co-workers, brands and favorite stores, all in one easy to use, familiar interface. Plus, search engines like Google are taking these sites into account when it comes to search engine results. Seems like the old boards and forums are dead, right?
Not so fast there, Skippy. There is still a whole lot of benefit for the business owner interested in self-hosted forums and message boards.
Message boards and forums can be private, established for the sole purpose of office or business communication. Most forum software has levels of permissions that can be defined by departments, teams or other designations tailored to a business’ needs. Many of these platforms support document sharing, calendars and other functions that help keep the various team members on the same collaborative page. In addition, these forums and message boards are scalable, giving a business the power to not only operate within its private lines of communication, but also extend the social side of the forum to the public.
Public message boards and forums can increase the SEO value of a website and give a business the valuable tool of transparency. While these attributes can also occur on public social networking sites like Facebook, the ability to integrate forum posts within the pages of a website are consistently easier and present a more streamlined image. Also, because of the aforementioned promise of permissions structures, both a private and public board can be hosted together, eliminating the need for multiple forms of technical community management expertise. In other words, its pretty easy to foster a community in one place, rather than through multiple social networking channels.
In terms of security, a self-hosted message board or forum may be a better choice, especially for the small business. Large social networking websites are constantly under attack by hackers, and many times, the individual users pay the price as accounts are hacked and subversive links are sent to others by a “friend.” This happens on self-hosted communities, as well, but the security benefit is in the ability to contact less people in times of social networking emergencies to help solve and eliminate problems. The more intimate the social setting, the easier it is to get results.
From security to image to customization, self-hosted forums and message boards may ultimately be a social networking solution that continues to provide results to businesses and consumers. When the ultimate goal is to drive traffic to a website, integrating the social aspect of online communication directly into content can help create a full picture of the business or services offered. While social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace or Ning continue to gain members in droves, the benefit of the self-hosted forum or message board cannot be denied as a way to establish and retain lines of communication as well as provide more efficient security for the public or members of a company.
Want to know more? Contact MojoWriting today for your Northern Virginia connection to all things Internet, Web Content and Social Media!