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Top 5 Benefits Of Online Forums You Can’t Ignore


What are forums?

Forums are online discussion groups. They’re like message boards, but they have rules and moderation, and they’re usually more focused on a single topic. Forums are considered to be one of the oldest forms of online communication. Back in the dial-up days, online message boards were where people would go to ask questions and get advice from other people. These days, people use them to talk about just about anything. There are internet forums for almost anything you can imagine, like sports, hobbies, and even politics.

In this blog post, we’re going to look at some of the main benefits of online forums – from early incarnations including BBS and Usenet, online forums have come a long way. Even now, they are still hugely popular. A 2015 survey by Pew Research Centre found that 15% of all internet users read or post comments on an online discussion site.

But why is it that in the age of Facebook and other social media sites, forums are still used so extensively? We have compiled the top 5 advantages of online forums that you simply can’t ignore, and why you should be using them to improve productivity within your team and other stakeholders.

Encourage engagement on discussion forums

Discussing topics at work

 

This is what most people would consider the main advantage of an online forum.

They are a great way for your team members and stakeholders to connect over shared experiences.

To take things further, you could even create separate communities for different user groups so they can easily find topics ranging different interests that are relevant to them. This is a great way to ensure that they stay engaged with the conversations.

Improve communication

With e mail now considered a major productivity killer by many employees, organisations need to find new ways to improve communication.

An online forum can help form a key part of your communication plan. Rather than searching through a packed inbox of emails, you can simply ask a question within discussion forums and see everyone’s responses in a clear, chronological order.

Besides the benefit of being able to answer questions, another advantage is that the key points raised in the online discussion don’t have to be lost. The most popular platforms will allow you to pin specific posts to the top of the discussion so no-one misses any key statements.

Increase collaboration

Improving collaboration should be the near the top of your list of priorities.

Why? For a start, 75% of employers rate team work and collaboration as “very important.”

That’s not all though. Online collaboration has many advantages and can help to bring out the creative sides of your active members in a team or other members, as they can work closer together and bring new ideas to the table.

What better place to do this than in discussion forums? People can contribute their ideas in the knowledge that it is stored in an online workspace that can be referred back to at any time.

BONUS CHECKLIST: DOWNLOAD OUR TIP SHEET ON 6 TIPS ON HOW TO COLLABORATE EFFECTIVELY.

Better engagement

better engagement at work

 

There are many benefits to having engaged employees. Increased productivity and less absenteeism are just two reasons why companies as large as Google and Facebook continue to invest so much time and money into improving it.

This is backed up by research that found that employees are 12% more productive when they’re happy at work.

By creating a thriving online community, your stakeholders will naturally feel more engaged with your project.

It gives them a platform to express their views and creativity and ultimately feel like they’re positively contributing to its success.

Receive the 5 key methods of employee engagement straight to your inbox

Seek assistance and support

Every day we are faced with problems that we need to overcome.

Sometimes we can just simply ask a manager or colleague for help. But what happens if they’re not around or too busy? The last thing you want is to be left to deal with the problem alone!

With an online forum, you don’t have to. Simply create a discussion and ask your community of forum members for help. If everyone posts problems and responds to them, over time it will create a network amongst colleagues that will be actively supporting each other.

Even better, as forum posts are generally archived, you can refer back to previous answers given to common issues to do with your project. It could grow to become an FAQ or Wikipedia style resource for your team or even your whole organisation.

Help drive usage of your online collaboration tool

Your forum doesn’t have to be a standalone entity. It can also form a key part of your existing or new online collaboration tool.

Not invested in one? Perhaps you should. Especially when you consider that Gartner have stated that social technologies are currently used by 70% of organisations.

But there is another statistic that stands out. In the same article, Gartner also stated that most social collaboration initiatives fail because they follow a worst-practice approach of “provide and pray”, leading to only a 10% success rate.

To avoid this, you need to achieve one thing. Give your stakeholders a good reason to collaborate with you in this way.

An online forum can contribute to this. Ensuring discussions are around a particular topic, or any relevant topics that people want to actively participate in can help encourage stakeholders to regularly log in, engage with your tool and ultimately help you to achieve project success.

To make this even easier for you, leading suppliers give you the option to ‘@ mention’ specific people to help increase participation and bring more people into the conversation.

Next steps

To help with your assessment of online collaboration tools, you should read our guide, which contains the 10 key questions you need to ask a supplier.

Alternatively, you can try Kahootz out free for 30-days and start building your online forum from scratch. It takes minutes to get set up and no IT training or consultancy is required.

Download our free guide on “Online Collaboration Tools: 10 Questions to ask a supplier“.

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