The use and value of on-line forums does divide opinion. Understanding and defining the intentions and value of a forum is the essential starting element.
These might sound obvious questions, but all too often they are overlooked.
Any aspect of a website that actively encourages interaction between users, visitors and website owners should never be a regarded as a bad thing. Creating any environment where information is shared, discussed and cascaded as a community of connected users.
Essentially one element that is valuable to any website are repeat visits, which a good forum encourages and delivers against. Since anyone who has posted a comment on a topic within a forum will return to view or follow answers, responses and any subsequent discussions.
So what are valuable or common benefits to a forum?
Posting regular content and replying to your site visitors’ forum posts will build relationships quickly and solidly. Getting to know them better, gaining additional information and establishing a two-way dialogue that is both trusted and beneficial. Ensuring that when they require the product or service you provide they are more likely to buy from you; a trusted source.
Creating a valuable or successful forum is not a quick over-night task. It takes time and dedication to get a forum started. Posting regular and valuable content, whilst encouraging comments and replies, is initially both time consuming and hard work; but will become very rewarding once the momentum has started!
Compliment and promote your forum but using social media. Posting updates via tweets, status updates or blog posts will highlight and promote new topics for interesting forum discussions. Including the forum URL within these updates will encourage instant access, once you have pricked their curiosity with interesting subjects and content!
To answer the question “is using a forum a valuable feature for your website?” You decide!
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