Previously we looked at “What is a Forum?“. We learned that forums serve a very broad range of purposes for companies, organizations and advocacy groups. If you are still undecided whether a forum is right for you, let’s take a look at some of the most common types of forums and perhaps one of these usages might fit with what you’re trying to accomplish with your website.
Service, Support, FAQ and Knowledge Base Forums
Does your business have a customer support department? Do you want to offer your customers any self-service capabilities so they can get service and support answers from your website? Does your customer service or help desk keep answering the same questions over and over again? Do you have a lot of information about your products and services that you want to share with your customers (product specifications, how-to guides, service documentation, etc.)?
If you have answered YES to one or more of these questions then you will certainly benefit from having a forum on your website that can provide visitors to your site with service, support, FAQ or to information in your knowledge base. For the most part, these types of forums have a lot of static data that gets added to over time by your customer service and support staff (such as the Support, FAQ and Knowledge Base forums).
For the other types forums, such as the Service Forum and perhaps even the Support forum, you might give visitors the ability to join the forum so they can ask questions or contribute their experience & knowledge so that others (including your organisation) can benefit.
Some examples of the top technical support sites and forums can be found here.
If your organisation has a social mission or even if it is a business, but you want to build a ‘community’ of persons that want to share and exchange information then perhaps a Community forum might be worthwhile. For example, there are community forums for groups such as Microsoft Community, Linux enthusiasts, vintage motor collectors, teddy bear collectors, etc.
Maybe your company sells solar or energy products then you might want to start a community forum for people (including current and potential customers) to discuss things like climate change, advances in solar energy, etc. such as what the Northern Arizona Wind & Sun Online Store has done.
Advocacy and Information
Advocacy groups (political activists and parties, UN groups, privacy protection, etc) are great users of forums to help spread their message and promote their cause. Health groups are also big users of forums – see the MedHelp forum and Multiple Sclerosis World as examples.
Companies that Provide Forum Services
If you are looking for companies that can help you set-up and run a forum, the Top Ten Forum Service Companies are examples of companies that provide the best forum services that would be appropriate for large enterprises. Much simpler (and more economical) forum services can be provided by speaking with a local web developer or with Rapidpage.ca.
written by RapidPage