Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by Matt M, Mar 14, 2019.
I'm one of them.
I completely disagree. I don't want people to come to my forum because of some Pavlovian response or because of an endorphin addiction to "likes". I want them to come because they have a real interest in the subject matter and something meaningful to contribute. That is what sets forums apart from other social media, and ultimately, will allow forums to endure.
It's more about reminding them you still exist.
Attention spans are shorter than ever, and the number of distractions has dramatically increased.
That said, we find that email is still an incredibly powerful tool to re-engage visitors. Definitely don't write it off yet! One of our clients sends 3,000,000 emails every month (notifications, bulk mails, etc) and has huge engagement.
And you can also have complete integration with your community, including articles, commence stores and so on.
Not to mention you control the data.
Perhaps not a big rush, a lot of communities on Facebook are disposable. If they vanished overnight, people would find another Facebook Group container to talk in. Also a lot of Facebook groups have low value conversations because it's too easy to post the first thing that pops into your head versus well thought out discussion.
But we ARE seeing a lot of interest from large Facebook Groups. There are data concerns, privacy concerns and concerns that the group could be switched off at any point if FB see fit.
I'm actually talking to a well known Austrian photographer who chose to use Invision Community for his main platform over a FB group, but kept his FB group going until his competition constantly flagged his group as offensive, and it was then deleted by Facebook.
He is thankful he chose to use a forum for his main community.
The current company that I am associated with prefers using a forum for engagement rather than FB or other social media channel, but then again it is hard to look for a relevant niche that talks about pet supplies and domestic animals.
So, if you’re looking for quick and easy engagement go for a Facebook group, if you’re looking for better functionality and product focus go for a forum. As with all things membership site, the best option is the one that suits your needs and goals – but don’t be afraid to just pick an option and see how it goes.
Whichever you choose, the most important thing is to actually have that community element in order to keep members engaged with your product.
Reminders are great. Sending out reminder email and digests have been a staple of forums for years. It's the idea of changing forums to use the same instant notification mechanisms that other social media have that concerns me. On the surface, I can see the appeal of keeping your members constantly engaged. Underneath, it reduces forums to just another, less convenient version of facebook and such.
What differentiates forums is the very fact they require thought and effort by the users. That isn't a bad thing. It means people visit our forums because they are engaged in the topic and the community -- and they are willing to invest some effort. Those members are more likely to provide the higher quality discussion that we all look for.
The thing is, people have become accustomed to that type of reminder. Especially in certain demographics where the target demographic is on the younger end, these are things they expect sites to have.
I have been using the FB app to do just that for the last 5 years or more, recently it keeps stopping and I have to go back and re-work the security of the app (I'm sure FB are doing it to prevent it working.
As for the lack of privacy the one problem many people do not realise is that a friends lack of security or privacy on their seettings now becomes your lack of privacy and security as you are linked to them. Most people I have said that to look at me as if I was an alien. FB can only offer the 5 minutes of fame around the world that private forums do not, people want that 5 minutes of fame every 2 hours 24/7.
I accept that. The question then becomes, are those the members we really want on our forums? To answer that, we need to look at what that demographic brings to the forum, and whether or not the value they bring is worth the effort to entice them. We also need to determine our goals as admins. If we are chasing numbers and page views, then every set of eyes is important. If we are after good quality posts, we should focus on the groups that deliver that.
Can't it be both? The more eyes = the more possibilities of finding a quality member. And members sometimes take years before they become a quality contributing member; same goes for guests who visit your sites for years before they even decide to sign up. I'd rather cast a huge net to give me a better chance of capturing a user that will become a productive part of the community rather than just sit on my hands hoping and praying.
Ideally, both would be nice. In reality, we have to look at the cost of casting that wide net and determine if the results are worth it.
I've always favoured quality over quantity. I'd much rather have a forum with 500 members with a high contribution percentage than one with 5000 members who mostly read and provide low value posts, especially if I need to make big changes and put in a lot more effort to attract those 5000 members. To be fair, I also have never monetized a forum, so numbers and page views don't matter to me.
So I manage a big board (300-500k users annually) and last November we added a Facebook group by popular demand. We're up to 15k users there.
I *despise* it. The tools are clunky and inadequate, inconsistently implemented across platforms, and generally useless. You can't turn certain features off (we have one participant who regularly posts live videos that we then have to watch and manage for content) and you have no means of record keeping. They recently added the ability to "remove" a post and keep a record, but it's time-limited and not available on mobile, so you can't use nor read reports on mobile at all. It also necessitates dealing with Facebook's communication features.
Add this to the "instant offense" culture of facebook, things blow up hard and fast and at odd hours; I'm online a lot more often trying to manage it, and then you have the *complete* lack of functionality.
So no, Facebook will *never* replace forums; it has its uses; it's good for quick, low-quality discussions and shoutouts, but reusing any content is pointless and hard to find. If I weren't paid to take care of it... I wouldn't. Integration of social media is important (ignoring it isn't wise) but it just serves a different function from forums. You'll be giving up control, and exchanging flexibility for corporate whims, lack of support, and inadequate communication.
Facebook is evil and does things that even Track Everyone Google doesn't do.
I've boycotted them since forever and I'll continue to do so.
Unfortunately, Facebook also happens to own WhatsApp, Instagram, etc. so, even if the main social network goes bye-bye, you will still have to deal with their shadow. And that's not saying that they won't just buy up Discord or something.
The reason people think forums are obsolete is for more than just some push alerts.
It's also the look and feel. Traditional forums tend to feel very clunky and it can take more clicks than is strictly necessary, as-well as associated delays to get the same tasks done.
There is also the matter of live topic lists, live topics, etc. which provide a far more real-time experience.
According to various online statistics including W3Stats, it also seems that Discourse is set to overtake MyBB in market-share within a year or two. And it is a VPS software, so people are a little intimidated by it.
I think considering Facebook does not even pay the video creators. You can imagine the difference between the Google handling youtube and facebook. Facebook thinks serving free means creators should not be paid for videos. Their ad model on pages also does not help much creators either.
I actually like forums better, the conversations are often broader and engaging.
Well yeah, obviously there are several reasons. I didn't say that was the only reason, just one of the main reasons. Push notifications are how people remain engaged in discussions these days, whether we want to admit it or not. Email notifications for thread subscriptions simply don't bring people back in like it used to.
I wrote a pretty long post about FB and Forums here that touches on my observations:
I don't look at my emails, like... ever.
It's literally a waste of email quota sending me emails.
And sometimes I like to take a break from the internet, and not to be harrassed by a thousand notices every second, shocking lol
Other people are huge fans of being connected 24/7 with their phones, but I don't really see the appeal.
Exactly. Email notifications for thread subscriptions and PMs are unreliable.
And though I have all of my notifications for social media turned off on my phone, like others have noted above in this thread, I realize that a large percentage of our members and our target audience rely on phone notifications for engagement with online communities they have joined. It's what prompts them to interact. That's just the way social media has changed user behavior and changed user expectations.
The thing is, it really doesn't matter if "we" want 24/7 push notifications.
We need to be able to give our users that option. If they wsnt/use it, cool. If not, also cool.
The more options we can give, especially as things like push become "standard", the better.