Forums as a platform are some of the oldest social networking tools on the internet. They have always been there to provide a place for members to connect with other people through online discussions. With the recent surge in popularity of huge social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, I believe most forum software companies and forum owners have been slow to take advantage of these networks.
Social Network Integration
Only in the last couple years have there been features and plugins designed to allow social network members to register and login via their favorite social network. Now it seems to be common sense to take advantage of the fact that almost everyone has an account on one of the three big social networks. What better way to attract a visitor to register by allowing them to click one button and be automatically registered with the information they have on Facebook or Google+? All forum owners should be taking advantage of social network registration and login. Even the free platforms, like SMF and Vanilla, have plugins to allow this type of registration.
Promote via Social Networks
Not only should forum owners allow social network registrations, they should create pages on the social networks for their forum. Facebook and Google+ allow you to create pages using your personal account. You can then use the social network as the “page” instead of your personal account. This is useful because you don’t have to worry about having 3 or 4 different Facebook accounts for all your forums plus personal account. Social networking is great for attracting new members. You can target the type of visitors you send to your forum, and having people “follow” your forums social network account allows you to keep in touch with members. Post forum updates and news on your profiles. Talk about contests, new developments, news, etc. Your members will always check their social network accounts so make sure you are right there with them, reminding them of what is going on at your forum.
Social networks add real value to any forum. Not only can you increase your conversions from visitor to member with a convenient social network login feature, but you can reach out to new members with a Facebook page, Twitter account, or Google+ page specifically made to represent your forum. I think it’s time that the original social networks take advantage of the new, extremely popular social networks.