Are Forums better than Social Media?

All the hype and rage you hear from marketers nowadays is all about social media this and social media that.  However, could it be that social media doesn't provide much useful information?

I ran across an interesting article on Social Media Explorer the other day which should make some marketers and companies rethink their social media strategies.  The report examined where the conversations about banks and the banking industry takes place online.  The winner?  Forums.

In the report they found that 90% of information about banks being discussed online is found on online forums.  Social networks accounted for 1% of the real conversations about banking. While Jason Falls, the writer, would obviously like you to purchase his report on the banking industry, keep in mind that he runs a site about social media.  If they were smart they would have thrown out the report and declared social media is the best place to market for banks! 🙂

social media

The article really got me thinking about where I go to find useful information online.  If I wanted to know more about web hosting, I go to a hosting discussion forum.  I would not turn to my followers on Twitter or Facebook since they probably don't know the answer and couldn't help me out.  Most of the time when I need technical help or I am trying to learn something new with software I do the same thing.

Posting cat memes and pictures while fun… come one, that's not useful to anyone.  Of course we all know that Singing Dogs are quite useful for the internet.  (These are my dogs by the way.)  To a certain extent social media is really more ideal for being entertained and engaged.  Something marketers are keen to capitalize on.

For a second I would think about where you get useful information when doing a Google search.  Do you always find what you need on blogs? Probably not.  Does Facebook's search engine (Bing) even work well? No. Can you find technical help on Twitter? Some places sure, but for the most part I doubt you can get technical questions answered in 140 characters or less all the time.

The current bank I have my money with I did research before opening an account with them.  Googling I found a bunch of threads, from genuine people (I hope), recommending their services and after reading these positive reviews on forums I decided to bank with them.  I have been using this bank's services for almost 2 years and couldn't be happier.  Their service and products are better than the local credit union's I was using and they have excellent customer support.

However, in all my research I didn't see anyone from the bank post on these forums or see bank reps taking part in any conversations.  Jason Falls hits the nail on the head when explaining why most marketers don't incorporate a forum into their overall marketing strategy.

marketers are petrified of them [forums]. Why? Because marketers typically aren’t welcome there. Most forum administrators are quick to thwart link droppers and promotional banner wavers. You can’t blame them. The users come there for … wait for it … conversations.

This is an excellent point!  I will get a lot of angry emails for saying this, but the reality is that marketers can't have real and meaningful conversations.  Participating in a forum means you need to really respond to what people say and not feed them what you want them to hear.

A common complaint I've heard about forum marketing is that it can be a lot of work with minimal results.  While it all depends on the niche, and what forums are available in the niche, again you need to provide real value and not just be trying to sell your products or get backlinks for you site.   Let's be fair, marketing on social media networks isn't easy and takes time, work, and a lot of money.

Having recently attended BlogPaws, a pet blogging conference, there was no discussion about forums, forum strategies, or how to get a community started.  The majority of the discussions regarding social media networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

Before going to the conference though I turned to the BlogPaws Newbie discussion group to get useful information regarding the conference for new attendees.  I got a lot out of the discussion group where I learned great tips and advice about attending BlogPaws I wouldn't have gotten unless I was part of the Newbie group.  If I had gone to the Twitter or Facebook pages I really wouldn't have gotten many answers to my questions or gained as much insight into BlogPaws before attending.

Since forums have been around since the dawn of the web I guess they really don't have the coolness and ‘new kid on the block' appeal of social networks.  I also rarely hear anyone say they want to start a forum since blogging or building a website product or service is what most people want to get into.

If Social Media Explorer's report is accurate, a lot of marketers should consider what having a good forum presence can offer them and their brand.  Forums are not going anywhere and will be around until the internet dies I bet.  So if the conversations for your audience is on forums, you either should get a forum strategy or start one.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

[Image Source – Social Media Explorer]

The Best Way to Get Twitter Followers, be Warren Buffett

warren buffet

Warren Buffett, the famed Billionaire investor, recently decided to join Twitter.  While the 82-year old legendary investor may not be as social media savy as some, he has had no trouble in getting a massive Twitter following very quickly.

Buffett sent out this Tweet to announce his entry to the online social media platform on May 2nd.

Within 10 minutes of him sending this first Tweet out he had already gained 10,000+ Twitter followers.  As it stands currently as I write this post @WarrenBuffet has 396,666 Twitter followers and that number keeps growing quickly.  Since it is a verified Twitter account people don't need to worry they are following an impersonator or fake account.  I wouldn't be surprised if he surpassed 400,000 Twitter followers by the end of the day.

Buffett may prove to be one of the most popular people on Twitter as he is known for coming up with good quips and short quotes about investing, life, and everything.  This is what people like to see on Twitter and how to excel since you only have 140 character or less to express yourself.  People most likely are not looking for Buffett's quotes about life but any tidbits of info he can provide about investing.

Warren Buffett is known as “The Oracle from Omaha” due to his extremely shrewd investing skills and decisions.  Currently Buffett is the 4th richest man in the world and is CEO of his company, Berkshire Hathaway.  Buffett's company owns or has stakes in many well-known institutions and large companies such as Geico, See Candies, Fruit of the Loom, Benjamin Moore, and more.  The company's stock price finished the trading day at a $164,990 per share – BRK-A – and currently is valued at 271 billion dollars.

It is still unclear though whether Warren Buffett will actually be Tweeting himself or if he will assign a staff member or social media manager to run the account for him.  I am guessing he will be Tweeting himself since he isn't a person who is afraid to say what he thinks, at least for the most part.  Currently Buffet doesn't follow anyone, but why would he need to?  It's not like Buffett needs to worry about what other people are saying on Twitter and work to gain followers.

So next time you are wondering what the best way is to gain Twitter followers is, it's pretty simple.  Just be Warren Buffett! 🙂

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

Twitter will stop support of TweetDeck Mobile Apps

tweetdeckA few days ago on TweetDeck's official blog on Posterous, Twitter surprised the Social Media universe or more specifically the “Twitterverse.”  Twitter announced that they will be ending support for TweetDeck mobile apps for Android smartphones and the iPhone.  Also Twitter will not be supporting the desktop version of the Twitter application anymore known as TweetDeck AIR (it runs on the Adobe AIR platform.)

Here is what Twitter said on the Posterous blog post that was posted on March 4th, 2013.

TweetDeck is the most powerful Twitter tool for tracking real-time conversations. Its flexibility and customizable layout let you keep up with what’s happening on Twitter, across multiple topics and accounts, in real time. To continue to offer a great product that addresses your unique needs, we’re going to focus our development efforts on our modern, web-based versions of TweetDeck. To that end, we are discontinuing support for our older apps: TweetDeck AIR, TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone. They will be removed from their respective app stores in early May and will stop functioning shortly thereafter. We’ll also discontinue support for our Facebook integration.

TweetDeck mobile apps makes it easy and convenient for people with multiple Twitter accounts to control them all from the same application   I have been using TweetDeck on my Android smartphone to handle my personal Twitter account @AdamYamada and the one for Cody and Sierra, my two singing dogs, @DogsSing.  Even a couple of other Twitter accounts are on there and I used it often to send Tweets to Facebook pages or just update Facebook pages.

I am bit annoyed that Twitter has decided to pull the plug on TweetDeck for Android and TweetDeck for iPhone.  It has over 1 million downloads which is a pretty sizable user-base in my opinion.  The reason Twitter probably decided to pull the plug on TweetDeck for smartphones is that the majority of people are using Twitter for iPhone and Twitter for Android apps instead.  Unlike me they do not have a need have multiple accounts they need or want to control from the same app.

I am also annoyed Twitter will not support Facebook integration but I understand since that is technically their biggest competitor in the Social Media world.  I guess Twitter has made a calculated move to try to push more people to stay on their platform.

Ending support for the desktop version does make sense though.  Over the past couple of months I have migrated to using the TweetDeck Chrome app which is convenient, fast, and easy to use.  I bet from a developer standpoint it is easier to run TweetDeck in the cloud.  From the blog post it seems like Twitter's data probably reflects that.

In many ways, doubling down on the TweetDeck web experience and discontinuing our app support is a reflection of where our TweetDeck power-users are going.

What does not make sense is that Twitter decided to post the news on a Posterous blog.  Why?  Twitter acquired Posterous awhile ago and will be shutting down Posterous on April 30th, 2013.  You can read Sachin Agarwal's, the Founder and CEO of Posterous, blog post about it.  (If you have a Posterous blog you should go backup your data immediately if you want it.  You can transfer it to WordPress or Tumblr blog.)  Twitter it seems want all the focus to be on developing Twitter and the buyout was probably what is known as an “acquihire.”  These acquihires by big tech companies are usually just to get the talent from the company they are buying out and not necessarily for the technology itself.

If anyone would like to suggest a good TweetDeck replacement, please leave a comment and suggest one.  I most likely will be trying out different Twitter apps that can handle multiple accounts over the next month or two.  I will keep people updated with what I do and don't like.

If you are a TweetDeck user and as unhappy as I am, let me know how you feel.  I would be interested to hear from others.