This guest post is written by Michael Dolen, founder and CEO of the popular online forum, CreditCardFroum.com.
What’s social media? Most of us think of Facebook, Twitter, and maybe even LinkedIn. However there’s something else that falls into this category: forums/message boards. Because they’ve been around since the dawn of the internet, they’re not nearly as hyped… but that doesn’t mean you should completely ignore them.
My occupation actually revolves around forums; I founded one where consumers write credit card reviews. Since its launch in 2008, it has grown to become the #1 on the net for credit cards. If you search for terms like “credit card forum” or “credit card message board” it will usually show up at the top. So how does a forum like this fit into PR? Well, here’s the biggest reason why…
Forum posts might be seen for years to come
What’s so great about Twitter and Facebook is that they allow you to interact with customers. Not to mention, they can be a powerful way to spread news of sales and coupon codes. In short, these services are essential for doing business in the present.
But what about the past? A tweet or Facebook wall post probably won’t be seen again after time has passed and it gets buried in the archives. However a post on a forum might show up in the search results for months or even years to come.
For example, I originally wrote this American Express Platinum review in 2009 and it still tends to rank well in the search results, even in 2012. Now of course, I am constantly updating this review every few months since the benefits on the American Express Platinum change periodically, but my point is that it still gets a lot of eyeballs. The same holds true for this conversation about Walmart’s card.
While my review of the AmEx Platinum is positive, the one for the Walmart credit card is not (due to its high interest rates, lackluster rewards program, etc). If you look at Walmart’s Facebook and Twitter they seem to be pretty active on them. Doesn’t it seem like it would also be wise for their social media crew to at least spend a few minutes responding to concerns on my forum and elsewhere? I notice they seem to stay on top of negative FB wall posts by replying quickly, so why completely ignore forum posts like this one?
What can and cannot be done?
Regardless of your business, there will inevitably be those whom are unhappy with your products/services. You can’t please everyone and you certainly can’t stop people from expressing their opinions.
However what you can do is try and give your side of the story, when you see a forum post that isn’t too flattering. Take the Walmart example- If they were to email me and say “we saw the post, do you mind if we share our side of the story?” If I received an offer like that, I definitely would consider including a paragraph or two from them into my credit card review, so the reader could hear both sides. Furthermore, Walmart could also signup on the forum and reply to that post quite easily if they wanted to… but they apparently don’t.
My closing thoughts
Do I think businesses should focus heavily on forum PR? Nope, not at all. I think dealing with the present (i.e. Twitter and Facebook) is far more important than old forum conversations. But regardless, I still think businesses should spend at least a fraction of their time keeping tabs on the message boards and replying to conversations about them, if need be.
In short, it’s important to take a balanced approach rather than only focusing on one or two facets of social media and completely ignoring everything else.
About The Author: Michael is founder and CEO of the web’s leading credit card message board. CreditCardForum.com’s reviews and offers, which are written by both consumers as well as himself, have been cited in a number of major news publications and websites including the Wall Street Journal, Smart Money Magazine, Yahoo Finance, and others. You can catch him blogging almost daily on his site about everything from customer service to cash back on credit cards.