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Will Twitter kill the Forum Community?

Posted on : 20-02-2009 | By : Frank Eliason | In : Social Media

6

So video killed the radio star, VHS beat out beta, but was later killed by DVD.  Now online download is taking its toll on DVD.  We see it in many areas where new technologies start to take over older ones.  We have also seen it over the years in the online spaces and the community spaces.  Newsgroups shifted to forums for many topics or download services for file sharing.  Chat rooms are rarely seen now in favor of spaces like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.

So while I was at the Omniture conference, I heard someone say, “oh not another space.”  It really started to make me think.  Are there too many spaces?  Will we see things shift from some space like specialized forums to a space like Twitter?

Over the past 5 years (or longer) companies have looked to create communities for their Customers to participate and have conversations within their web properties.  Many of these forums, like the Comcast Help Forums, are a place for support and discussion regarding a companies products.  Sometimes the communities are not within the company’s web server.  As an example, for internet service providers, one of the most recognized is Broadband Reports.  Forums are great because topics are broken up and it is easy to search for something of interest.

It may be time to rethink the importance of forums.  Although I have not seen a decline in participation in such areas, isn’t it just as easy, if not easier to ask your question in a place like Twitter?  What we know about Twitter or Facebook people tend to gravitate to others with the same interests, very similar to what we see in a community forum.  Just like a forum, besides asking the question you can search for others that may have asked a similar question.  You can even write to them and ask if they found a solution.  You can even make a new friend that way.

As we relook at the “Groundswell,” companies may no longer be about building a specialized place but using existing spaces in larger communities.  It will be in their best interest to meet Customers where they already are.  There will always be some topics that will be a little taboo or private for a place like Twitter (although probably happens there too) that forums will be useful for some of those discussions.  At the same time as we look in the crystal ball, do we need all these seperate forums or can it just happen naturally?  To make this easier Twitter may want to better group followers, that way I can have my “Techie” friends and those that like shows like “Dexter.”  This is available today through different apps, but if that was an option on the native app it would be helpful.  At the same time, I am willing to bet it is already happening.  What other things may change if places like twitter continue to have momentum?