Yesterday vBulletin [think Jive or Lithium forum platform but for the peer to peer, homegrown community -- and on a far larger scale] announced a new activity feed feature for their flagship product… And that’s big for social brands.
Despite the massive growth of networks, forums remain the significant — although often overlooked — place for interest based discussions. For the same reason pinterest was able to explode past a host of existing networks, forums “own” the topical… your friends don’t always share your interests… so you have you have to seek out who people who do.
Forums are where people go to deep dive. Where the consumer advocates and individual influencers live. Forums can be the biggest source of discussion on an industry and yet somehow it’s still uncommon to see a big brand on one.
Forums are smaller. They’re generally self-funded. Often in it because of passion, not the money. So they don’t bend, don’t build nice little brand owned zones. They set the rules and the rules are about absolute transparency. No doubt it’s a major shift from what brands are use too.
But social isn’t field of dreams. Building a platform or page with your logo all over it does not mean people will come, or share. As brands we have to meet the customer where they live. And since few do that’s opportunity.
Just think about the implications of the feed… If you put aside the desire to have some massive number, the feed is akin to being able to talk to thousands of your most passionate target customers without a single other topic cluttering the message. Where else can you do that?