A few months ago, we got a call from one of the leading pest control companies, Expert Pest Control Provider, a internationally accredited company that specialize in providing services to both commercial and residential premises. They wanted us to help them design, create, and manage an online forum that they would use to reach out to their target audience. Here is a brief summary of how we handled the project.
We arranged a meeting with the company to discuss the fine details of the project before we embark on creating the forum. In the meeting, all the departments indicated what they would want the forum to help them achieve. For instance, the accounts department stated that they wanted a forum that would help them to respond to queries related to billing more conveniently.
With all the information, our team of designers got down to work and started to design the forum. We created a prototype and showed it to the company before creating the final copy. They were pleased with our presentation and gave us a go ahead to complete creating the forum. However, there were some minor glitches that they noticed and requested that we work on them before presenting the final copy. Actually, the main reason why we missed the errors is because the company had not provided us with all the information we requested for in the first meeting. For instance, we were not aware that they had a quality assurance department and spider control personnel.
We went back to the drawing board and started working on the areas that the client wanted to be changed. This only took us one day and sent them an email informing them that we would meet them in two days to showcase the forum. After this meeting, they were dumb folded to see how the forum functioned smoothly, this time with no glitches. They agreed to pay the agreed amount and we proceeded to managing the forum.
Managing the Forum
As per our initial agreement, we were to help them run the forum for the first two months. We did exactly that by monitoring how their clients were using the forum. We realized that some of the people who came to the site looking for rat control services had problems highlight their requirements, and so we made some changes to ease the process. As a result, we decided to create an short instructional video.
In a nutshell, we enjoyed working with the company and would not hesitate to take up their project in future.
One of the best ways of communicating with your target audience is by through the internet. It much cheaper, affordable, fast, and convenient as one is able to send and receive messages from anywhere in the world using an internet enabled device. These are some of the main reasons why companies have fallen in love with online forums like crazy.
If you plan to crease an online forum for your company, consider the following factors.
You should be able to know your target audience expectations before you start creating the forum. For instance, you need to know their ability to use the forum as a communication forum. You do not have to worry so much about this factor, as you can post an instructional video or assign one of your employees to manage the platform.
For you to achieve maximum benefits from your online forum, you need to ensure that it is always well maintained. There are a number of hosting companies that can help host your forum and ensure that it is always live. Hence, you need to consider all the costs of running the forum to avoid financial turmoil. I believe that you have a team of accountants who can help you come up with a budget and ensure that hosting fees are paid on time.
Finally, you need to consider the positive and negative impacts that the forum will have on your business. But, in most cases, the pros of having a forum surpass the cons.
You will be forgiven for thinking that online forums have been in existence since the beginning of time. In the past, people used to rely on traditional communication methods such as sending mails. This was a huge inconvenience especially when conveying urgent messages, as there were limited ways of ensuring that the mail get to the recipient in good time.
Here are facts to help you understand where the forums came from.
In the late 1990, some of the revolutionary innovators came up with new communication gadgets, mobile phones, that allowed people to talk from anywhere in the world. This in turn gave birth to mobile apps that one would download and use to send the same messages that was been sent via mail. Forget the new apps, the traditional ones did not even have a feature of posting images, only text.
In 2000, a group of internet engineers developed the first online forums. It was purchased by companies from all across the globe to help them communicate with their personnel. Initially, they were used as a communication platform within the companies. It was not until 2005, that the same companies realized that they could use the platform to disseminate information to their clients. Nowadays, it is possible to interact with customer care representatives of most companies in real time by joining their respective forums.
Finally, the cost of running an online forum is pretty if you consider the benefits one gets after using it. That is the brief history of the online forums you come across today.
Most of the small businesses have online forums that they use to interact with their clients. This has greatly helped them to get more clients as well as safeguard their reputation. Over the years, website developers have mastered the art of making online forums that are easy to operate as compared to the conventional ones.
Today, we look at some of the main reasons why the large firms or corporations do not have such online forums.
Most of them do not have experts who can run and monitor the forums. This is because they focus more on generating revenue and attracting more customers. Unknown to them is that they can use the forum to even expand their client base even further as the forums can be accessed from anywhere in the world unless they decide to make it geo-specific.
Reducing Operating Cost
Most of the managers who run large firms that I have had the privilege to interact with told me that they are always looking for ways of reducing their operating costs. This helps them to meet their monthly and yearly profit targets. Hence, they are of the idea that establishing and running a forum will be an additional expense that they are not ready to bear.
Finally, they do not think that online forums can really help them to expand. This is because they feel that they already have a large market and are popular in the world and so, they do not need to invest in other marketing strategies.
The online forum is a great way of marketing your products by interacting with your customers. It is useful in networking with entrepreneurs that have succeeded in a business similar to yours. The success of your online forum may be hindered by several habits.
Here are the habits you should avoid in your online forum.
Fake Active Participation
Surely, the online forum is a means of interacting with your customers. You should not only seek to promote your products but also try to listen to the online users. Acting like an active participant for the sake of promoting your commercial interests may trigger the failure of your blog.
One of the most annoying behaviors in online forums is persistent marketing. You might be so interested in marketing your products that you post messages that are not related to the topic under discussion. This may make your users dislike you and leave your online forum. Ensure that your posts are related to the subject and avoid excessive marketing as it drives away the participants.
Sometimes the participants in your forum might critic your services. Avoiding complaints against your products creates an impression to your users that you do not value their feedback. This may deter active participation. Taking criticism personally creates an unfriendly environment and leads to failure of your online forum.
Avoiding persistent marketing and pretending to be an active participant hampers the success of your online forum.
An online forum is useful in not only large companies but also for small businesses. One of the effective means of marketing products of your small business and connecting with your customers and potential customers is through online forums.
Here are the reasons small businesses need an online forum for customers.
Interact with Existing Customers
One of the success factors for a small business is generating customer loyalty by pursuing customer retention strategies. You can develop loyal customers by interacting with your customers in the online forum. The forum helps your customers provide feedback on your products that helps you improve your products. It also shows the customers that you are interested in them that facilitate the growth of their loyalty to your business.
Increase Online Presence
The internet is very efficient in creating consumer awareness. The more people know about you, the higher the likelihood of enjoying a substantial market share. Having an online forum is one of the means of increasing customer awareness since online users get to know the merchandise you offer. Also, the online forum supplements the other marketing efforts.
Cheaper Marketing Strategy
Social media companies keep altering the prices for posting adverts and customers may not view your adverts for a reasonable time. The online forum is under your control and is significantly cheap.
Therefore, do not just seek the social media as the only marketing channel. Instead, set up an online forum for your small business to increase your customers.
Many people spend a substantial fraction of their time in online forums. Through online forums, people discuss and seek advice on numerous topics. You need a good understanding of online forums to run a successful online forum.
Here is what you need to know about online forums.
Establishing an Online Community
To develop an active and long lasting online forum, you need a good online community. Making the appropriate choices and developing the right expectations before creating the boosts your likelihood of building a good online community.
Growing the Online Community
Your online forum needs to have great members for it to be successful. You can grow your forum by inviting great people on social media and professional networks. Creating quality topics and content attracts many people to your online forum.
Regulating the Forum
Once your forum grows, you are likely to encounter certain challenges. It is essential to moderate the discussion to deter members from posting inappropriate content that may drive away some participants. Establishing ways of contacting the members is effective in regulating online forums.
Since moderating the online forum is crucial for an active and popular online forum, you need to collaborate with people that can effectively regulate the online discussions. Selecting the right moderators aid in ensuring an ideal online community.
For your online forum to be successful, you need to attract the correct audience and keep the content fresh and exciting to increase participation in your online community.
One of the most effective ways of building a web community is through an online forum. A successful online forum has not only many users but also active users. Creating massive user participation is not easy. However, you can develop a substantial traffic to your forum through by applying some tips.
Here are the tips to attract more users to your online forum.
Market the Forum
A new blog needs to invest in getting the word out. You can attract initial users by creating a blog on the same domain. Alternatively, you can collaborate with blogs that are similar to the theme of your online forum. You can then convert the visitors to readers and participants to your forum.
Create Incentives to your Users
To facilitate growth in traffic and loyalty among users, you need to motivate them to participate more and stay longer. This attracts more users since they existing users can invite others to visit your forum. You can create a posting contest that generates extra traffic to your forum.
Use Social Networks
You can attract a large following by requesting your family, friends, schoolmates, or workmates to join your forum. You can also promote your online forum through the social media. You can also ask users in different forum sites to join your forum.
The above tips are helpful in attracting more users to your online forum. You should also post reasonably much content on your online forum.
There are a number of traditional forums that have stood the test of time and are still active. However, they are soon going to be outdated if the current trend is anything to go by. Website designers’ are coming up with new online forums that are more accessible and easy to use as compare to the traditional ones. For instance, you can access the forum on your mobile device or down a mobile app to communicate with other users.
Here are reasons why online forums reign supreme.
The traditional forums have very few users do to their limited reach. On the contrary, the online forums attract users from all parts of the globe. This gives the members a rare chance to network with people who are probably in different continents but have the same goals in life.
Easy to Access
As mentioned earlier, the conventional platforms were complicate to use as they relied on traditional methods of communication. The new online forums are easily accessible as we mentioned earlier, all you need is a reliable internet connection and an internet-enabled device. Be sure to keep your password safe as you will be prompted to log in to access the main forum especially if opt to access using an app.
Finally, online forums allow users to exchange information without reveal personal details. For example, you do not have to reveal your real name if you do not want to. This means that they are much safer as compared to the traditional ones.
Joining an online forum is one of the best ways of connecting with people in your field or business niche. However, you need to take precaution not to predispose you to cyber criminals who pry such forums looking for personal information that they can use to do various crimes.
Here are tips on how to protect your privacy.
Use a Username
You do not have to use your real name to communicate with other forum members. Come up with a username that is not in any way related to your business or cannot be tracked back to you in case of any unforeseen occurrence. Someone might identify you as you post messages and reveal your identity to other people without your consent.
Only Post Unclassified Content
You do not have to spill the beans in this kind of forums. Note that some have users from all across the globe. Hence, never reveal your true location, residence, work place and other classified information. After all, why would you want to reveal such information to anyone? More importantly, inquire before joining that the administrators of the platforms do not collect user information during the registration process. Avoid sites that record information as they can easily share it with third parties without your consent.
Finally, engage in constructive conversations online and be on the lookout for forum members who ask direct questions in a bid to lure you to expose your personal details without knowing. Nevertheless, a good online forum can help you network and outsource for information.