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Advantages & Drawbacks of Owning Centralized Business Forums
02-13-2014, 06:56 PM, (This post was last modified: 10-09-2014, 08:11 PM by Nuke.)
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Advantages & Drawbacks of Owning Centralized Business Forums
For those who don't really know Ekunia, I'm the CEO. If you appreciate this article, then you should consider our upcoming free forum host Ekunia Narodi to host a community for your business.

Business forums can be valuable assets for businesses to leverage in many ways. They help your community to gather and discuss your company's products. Businesses today, regardless of target audience, use social media for marketing. It doesn't matter if you sell to consumers or to other businesses. Even customer support is now often conducted over social media.

Therefore, customers will often use a forum owned by the business more than they would trust a forum owned by a third party. This comes with both advantages and drawbacks. Most obviously, you would have centralization and control over the community, which means that the community would be more efficiently organized, more fast-responding in providing support, etc. Of course, centralization has its disadvantages. Your community may end up centralizing too much and not spreading the word of your business and its products to other people. Therefore, business may approach ownership of a central community with caution.

However, there are ways to decrease centralization of the community while. You could encourage people to go to other forums with affiliations to other forums that are managed by the community. These affiliations don't even need to be with forums that are related to the business itself. They could even be one-way recommendations of other forums. This encourages customers to branch out and thus spread the word on your business and its products. It is recommended that startups with little to no customers in their community should make a centralized forum for their products to get ahead early, but they should branch out into other communities and decrease centralization as time passes because the word will spread slower with more centralization.

Affiliations are not the only way to expand the community influence of a business. As a business owner, you should put your own "boots on the ground" to market your business. You need to get out there and cross-post. This is a proven strategy because the more people see your content, the better. You should always remember that your business is not the be all and end all of the customers' community.

There are more benefits to owning a centralized community than you see at the surface. Ordinarily, centralized community control and moderation are associated, in the context of business, with deleting false reviews, hateful messages, etc. However, centralized community forums have much more to them than just control. They can be a source of freely-available, speedy customer support, improving the experience of the customer so that they return to your business for the future. They can also provide fun, energetic discussions, creating or enhancing your customers' loyalty to your business, its brand, and its products. The fact that your loyal customers can provide support in place of your staff means that you can reduce costs and provide support to customers outside of regular work hours.

The fact that your centralized business forum is permanently stored also means that support topics last forever. Essentially, when people search for solutions to their problems, regardless of whether or not they relate to your products, they may end up on your business forums. The very presence of the content means that your business will be ranked much better on search engines.

The advantages won't end with support or marketing. They continue into the realm of customer feedback. Your customers will usually, if not always, have some good ideas for your business to improve its products. You don't need a centralized community for that, either. On other forums where your community may discuss your products, they'll probably have feedback for your business and its products. Remember that you don't know everything. Your customers will often provide valuable insights into how your business may advance itself with its base market and improve loyalty, thus making them want to spread the word of your products more.

Of course, the decision on if your business should start a centralized community is all yours. It depends on a variety of factors, like your business size, target audience, and more. You should, regardless of if a centralized business community is right for you, use forums to market your products, provide support, and read about and respond to feedback.

I thank you and hope you found this article to be worth the read. Have a good day!
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