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Forums and social media marketing
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Forums and social media marketing

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A review on the relevance of Forums in Social Media Marketing and current trends. ...

A review on the relevance of Forums in Social Media Marketing and current trends.

A discussion on product development, consumer research, crowdsourcing, ethics, and the new trust framework.

Tips on setting up your own forum and becoming influential.

Includes examples from Dell, Gaia Online, and Royal Caribbean Cruises.

More in: Business , Technology
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  • The topics of the forums can cover anything, not limited to the few examples we have just run. They can cover pets, art, family, nature, motorcycles, politics, sports, economy, fashion, professions, family, study, religion, technology. If we are to classify by ownership, there are two types – company’s commercial forum and community owned forums. Most forums are moderated. There are rules and regulations to be followed for joining the forums. Depending on the activities level of the participants, we can classify them to influencers, followers and lurkers. It is influencers whose IDs become recognized and whose posts get most attention. Obviously, as marketers, these are the people we would like to work with.
  • No matter who owns it, a good forum should be a thriving one, with considerable traffic and active participation. On these forums, participants, end of day, consumer good end users exchange ideas on products, share experience on product and services, make recommendations . Organic word of mouth communication occurs. Just to prove how online forum contributes successfully to marketing:, I bought baby products recommended on Baby forum, I bought a stir fry wok recommended on Cooking forum... Just imagine it multiples to hundreds, thousands, or even millions...
  • Once you find the right forums for your company. They can be a rich source of consumer insight that you can use to develop or assess products or marketing campaigns.Companies can respond to the consumer insights retrieved through social media monitoring and analysis by modifying their marketingmessages, brand positioning, product development, and other activities accordingly
  • Moderators can go through the forums and monitor conversations to see how they can improve Gaia online or even sponsors marketing campaigns.
  • Naturally, due to the delayed nature of online forums, and given the increasing popularity of more real time social media sites out there, we may question the usefulness of online forum. The answer is Yes, we should still include it , at least in the mix of social medial marketing tools. Online forum is very attractive in long term traffic. Once you belong to a certain community, you will always come back. The space allowed in online community makes it easier and possible to share story, experience in details with other users. In addition, forums are community members sharing similar interest, thus make it very targeted niche market.


  • 1. What are forums?
  • 2. Forums are public online discussion sites where one can share, request, or discuss information on any specific interest or experience
  • 3. Types of Forums and Participants
  • 4. Forums types and usersCultures0 As many as possible – e.g. Rolia – Canadian ChineseTopics & interest0 Politics, family, hobbies, economy, religion, technology, and othersOwnership0 Corporate owned forum0 Grassroots community forumsUsers0 Moderators & administrators0 Registered members and Visitors0 Influencers, followers, and lurkers
  • 5. Organic Word of Mouth Communication & Online ForumForum users – consumer products end users love to shareexperience, make recommendation.
  • 6. Current Trends in Online Forum Usage
  • 7. 22% of Businesses Surveyed Use Forums Question: Is your organization using any of the following media channels? (Check all that apply) Dont know 2% Review sites/ discussion forums 22% Microblogs (e.g. Twitter) 53% Multimedia Sharing 58% Blogs 58% Social Networks 87%Source: Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. (2010)
  • 8. 96% of Businesses using Forums have found success in themSource: Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts (2012)
  • 9. Should your website have a forum?
  • 10. Influence on consumer brand evaluation depends on pre-existing brand image 0 Favorableness 0 Stronger effect on a low-image brand 0 Weaker effect for a high-image brand 0 Message Number 0 Does not affect low-image brand 0 Larger numbers favorable for high-image brand Low image brands should be more careful in having its own internet discussion forum as negative comments affect its consumer brand evaluation more easily.Source: (Chiou & Cheng, Journal for Interactive Marketing ,2003)
  • 11. Why participate in forums?
  • 12. Benefits of using online forums for social media marketing0 Consumer Research 0 Product feedback for improvement or development0 Consumer Support 0 Outsource some of your customer service to the "crowd“0 Brand awareness and loyalty building 0 Forums have self-segmented, target consumers0 Customer Relationship Building 0 Build relationships- you, consumers, and other consumers0 Moderated discussion 0 Some control possible in company’s forum
  • 13. Examples of Forums and Social Media Marketing
  • 14. Customer Relationship Building
  • 15. Forum: Anime Role PlayingMembers: 25,717,446Posts: 2,017,979,377Demographic: 14 – 25 yrs. oldNarrative Strategy: EmbracingAcceptance: Consumer- marketerrole enthusiastically adoptedCommunity Reaction - Positive ascommunal norms, forum, andcommunicator narrative arecongruent with WOMM campaign.Choose appropriate forumUnderstand normsPromote WOMM accordingly
  • 16. Sample ofGaia OnlineAdvertisementRates/SponsorshipForums used inintegratedsponsorship/product placementand in directingdiscussion
  • 17. Consumer ResearchForums are an archive of consumer’s WOM where one can get consumer insights into products and marketing programs - para. Kozinets, Wojnicki, & Wilner (2010)
  • 18. Online communities provide insight to product development Forums provide a niche community that has an inherent interest in a particular product or service and can be used to further improve these.Source: Fuhler, Johann (2006)
  • 19. Customer SupportSentiment without action is the ruin of the soul - Edward Abbey
  • 20. Dell has established an online community for customer support. Dell representatives or other customers help answer support questions promptlyMonitor forums regularly and respond quickly
  • 21. Tips to be influential in online forums0 Establish Trust. Understand the community. Register early. Be respectful. Don’t self promote.0 Be Competent. Provide quality and engaging content0 Be Accessible. Monitor, share, and respond regularly Source: Edelman (2011)
  • 22. Tips in setting up your own online forum0 Set goals – what you expect from your community0 Understand community – what motivates them0 Use right software0 Help create meaningful content0 Allow members to share controlSource: inc.com (2011)
  • 23. What can go wrong?
  • 24. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines engages a small group ofinfluential posters to the Royal Champions program. The Royal Champions continue to post at the Cruise Critic website.
  • 25. Consumerist exposes Royal Champions
  • 26. Cruise Critic Member Reaction“Personally, I think most of the vitriol toward the Royal Championswould be quashed if there were to be a sticky placed at the top of thisforum, explaining precisely what/who these folks are and how they are"compensated" (if at all) for their commentary. Easy. I had no idea whata "Royal Champion" was until yesterday, and I probably wouldnt havegiven it much thought if I were to have seen the title in a posterssignature. Now I know.Its one thing to read a review of a particular line or ship knowing fullwell that it was authored by a paid Cruise Critic staffer, and somethingentirely different when "member reviews" are potentially seeded withones written by shills for that particular cruise line. When anyone - likeme - who might be looking for unbiased, critical commentary believesthere may be corporate influence involved in their words, the memberreviews suddenly lose so much value.” - Davey Interweb, Posted March 10, 2009, Member since June 2005, Posts 965
  • 27. Narrative Strategy: Evaluation Concealment: Minimized mention of participation in WOMM campaign Leadership: positioned as safe information source Community Reaction: Negative due to incongruence to normsBe transparent and authentic
  • 28. Ethical Issue
  • 29. Astroturfing - An orchestrated expression of support for a product or service, designed to give the impression of agenuine "grassroots" movement or groundswell of support.
  • 30. On DisclosureTo disclose or not to disclose paid online endorsements – that is no longer the question. (The answer is yes.) - Heenan Blakie, Canadian Marketing, Advertising & Regulatory Law Update (Sept. 2011)
  • 31. The question is – how can we enforce it effectively?
  • 32. Future Outlook
  • 33. Is online forum still relevant in today’s socialmedia marketing world?Weaknesses of Online Forum• Delayed nature of conversation• One of the earliest forms of social mediaStrengths of Online Forum• Strong community bonding,• Attracts long term traffic• Niche market sharing common interest• Length and detail friendly – perfect for sharing stories and experiences Yes, forums should still be considered
  • 34. Sources
  • 35. Sources1. Kozinets, R. V., Wojnicki, A. C., & Wilner, S. J. (2010). Networked Narratives: Understanding Word-of-Mouth Marketing in Online Communities. Journal of Marketing, 87.2. Fuhler, Johann (2006); Community based innovation: How to integrate members of virtual communities into new product development3. Brown, J., Broderick, A,., & Lee, N. (2007) Word of mouth communication within online communities: conceptualizing the online social network. Journal of Interactive Marketing4. Edelman (2011). 2011 Trust Barometer Canadian Summary5. Zabin, J. and Jefferies, A. (2008) Social media monitoring and analysis: Generating consumer insights from online conversation. Aberdeen Group Benchmark Report6. Chiou, J.-S., & Cheng, C. (2003). Should a Company Have Message Boards on its Websites. Journal for Interactive Marketing, 17(3), 50-59.7. Heenan Blakie. (2011). Canadian Marketing, Advertising & Regulatory Law Update.8. http://www.cruisebruise.com/Royal_Caribbean_Caught_Infiltrating_Forums_March_9_2009_2.html9. http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showpost.php?p=18545037&postcount=28710. http://consumerist.com/2009/03/royal-caribbean-caught-infiltrating-review-sites-with-viral-marketing-team.html11. http://rankings.big-boards.com/12. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29554810/ns/travel-cruise_travel/t/does-cruise-lines-viral-campaign-cross- line/#.T0c4cvnuay413. http://www.conversionation.net/2011/07/word-of-mouth-marketing-when-a-human-phenomenon-goes-business/14. http://www.bytelaunch.com/bytelaunch-blog/misc/ethical-issues-in-advertising-with-social-media-marketing/15. http://www.clappingtrees.com/archives/2008/08/the-biggest-ethical-issues-in-social-media-today/16. http://www.idea-sandbox.com/blog/2010/10/word-of-mouth-reasons-people-talk-reasons-people-listen/17. All images by their respective copyright owners