There are so many options for engaging with your friends, fans, customers. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, photo-sharing sites, chat, and direct email are all shiny objects competing for our time and attention. And somehow in all the social media swirl, forums seem to get the short end of the stick.
Whether your social media strategy is to listen to the conversation, provide customer service, create compelling content, or make it easy for your friends to connect, it's still a good idea to "keep the home fires burning" with an independent forum.
Here are just 3 of the many reasons why:
1. Control. When you run your own forum, you can decide how information is presented, control the design, and own the data. Ceding your membership to an outside party like Facebook is risky at best. (Incidentally, with all Social Strata products you can export your data if you wish.)
2. Trust is built. Forums allow your group to become a trusted resource where members can see the historical record of the community. The information contained in a forum is organized and permanent---allowing members to use it as an ongoing resource.
3. SEO. While it's mighty nice of you to build up a cache of free content and keywords on outside sites, you might want to consider the SEO value in having a stable, rich mine of content related to your industry, residing on your website. If that forum content is chock-full of keywords you are trying to dominate, then it will only enhance your efforts.
Obviously, I see great value in all of the social tools (just ask how many times I checked Twitter today), but it's time to take another look at forums as a primary weapon on the social arsenal.