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Why monitoring online forums should be on your to-do list

Human beings are social creatures, so what better way to build a community - and engage them - by tracking forums? According to some, the number of topic-specific forums reaches more than 110 000 - which is quite significant when considering that these are populated by fans of particular subject areas. How then, do business owners navigate the mass of conversations out there (and make the most of them)?

Be more effective by tracking specific keywords

Your media monitoring solution should enable advanced search capabilities if it’s worth its salt. It should allow you to save precious time by gathering data only from forums, so you can hone in on the conversations that count. For example, if you run a fishing supply business, you’ll benefit most from selecting online forums/communities as your source. Monitoring should then be as simple as choosing your brand’s name, with requirements (or something similar) such as a product you’ve launched, a trend in fishing or words such as ‘trust’, ‘best’, ‘preferred’, ‘favourite’, etc. These search requirements, which help you to narrow down to the most relevant user feedback, will vary. Then, you may wish to:

...gain insight from product reviews

You’d be hard pressed to find a consumer who doesn’t shop around for the best price online, and it’s even less likely that they won’t check reviews of your products - even with etailer sites like Zalando, where shoppers are free to send back ill-suited garments at no personal cost. Unearth the usually more straightforward feedback found on discussion forums to see how your customers truly feel, cloaked in their digital anonymity.

...analyse the competition

Forums are often a breeding ground not only for your brand analytics, but for competitor analysis - from the consumer’s point of view. This is a potential insight goldmine for business owners. Keeping tabs on your industry, markets and more can reveal much in the way of your status with customers. Staying up to speed on customer opinions is invaluable; especially where rival brands are concerned.

...understand what’s trending

Being ahead of the curve is vital to making your business the preferred choice. With the advent of question-and-answer sites such as Quora, consumers are a click away from the first hand experience of their peers, and more often than not, key influencers on the subject at hand. Be well informed on shifts in your industry, markets and segments through forum conversations. It can be as simple as monitoring which products, updates and models are paid the most attention by users, or tracking a trend/event as soon as it pops up - to be there as soon as the comments start rolling in.

...be ready for crises

We’ve mentioned not shying away from negative user feedback before. The significance of online forums only underscores the importance of monitoring them. Being aware of negative comments is a great start to handling them; spotting feedback from dissatisfied customers as they air it puts you in prime position to respond appropriately. Given the cover of anonymity that forums provide, badvocates, or detractors, are able to let fly quickly. Know what’s being said by tracking any issues, and spend your time on strategy instead.

Here’s how Truecaller learned even more about their 100 million users, thanks to monitoring online forums.

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