Forums and Social Networks in 2020
I was a long time forum user and owner who never wanted to acknowledge that the peaks of forums were long past. In the 90's and early 2000's, the forum community as a whole was much different. Not only that, the software we used was too. While live chat messengers did impact or help stunt the growth of forums, they were never a true alternative. For that reason we saw forums and live chats thrive together. Even as social media giants rose from the depths of obscurity, forums persisted and lived on. However, it is now 2020 and those times are long gone. Well, it depends on how you look at it. Social networks are really just an adaptation of the whole concept of forums anyways. So, when you think about it forums are actually doing better than they ever have... They just don't come packaged with traditional forum software or themes, and they are harder to create for an independent administrator.
Did Social Networks Kill Forums?
Some people think that social networks and apps did "kill forums". This is because people in general are more likely to log in to a social media app than their forum, but that is changing too! Just as there was a giant swing towards the popular social media networks, there is now a swing in the opposite direction. People are joining smaller communities! However, they are not always on your standard MyBB, XenForo, vBulletin, or other forum software. Some of these communities are using more modern technologies that scrap the traditional design, look, and feel of a forum. It's important to leverage all forms of marketing to your advantage. There's no reason that your online forum community should not have a page on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, or elsewhere. In fact, a particular online coding forum from our own Forum Promotion community has made great use of a partnership with another network and a growing Reddit community! This is a wonderful example of using social networks or related sites to your advantage.
What is a Forum?
What is a forum if not simply a collection of section and categories that people participate in. Isn't that similar to a social network with dedicated pages for each topic? Reddit is just a giant forum that allows users to start their own communities, or sub-forums within it's large network of people from around the world. You see, forums never really died. There are countless websites that have 1 general community that can access pages on their sites, whether it be content like blog articles, or images, or videos, or user generated content. These sites may have overall categories, and sub-categories, with comments and content from users spread throughout. The only difference is that these sites don't always decide on main categories that are always shown on the first page. Just like news websites decided to fill their homepages with trending news instead of old-school category displays, the modern "forum" is showing trending or new content instead of forcing a user to choose what category they want to see. If you take almost any older forum software and force the homepage to show trending posts in a "Pinterest style" display, how is it any different than a social network? Many people may be overlooking the simple fact that forums exist all around us. Some of them are private, some are public, and most of the popular networks are a mix of both - with private communities supported by users within their overall "public" network.
Custom Forum Development
As you have been learning, many newer social networks make use of forums within their overall community. Whether you think a social network or app is a forum itself, or if it just uses categories and sub-categories for various pages, you surely can understand that companies are incorporated forum style software into their apps. I myself constantly develop forum apps for our clients. We build ways for teachers to share classroom updates with parents, teachers, and administrators. We've built announcement systems for landlords, internal help desk blog articles for business owners, and so much more. All of these are varying styles of forum technology. A custom forum implementation can take your community a lot further. You can't isolate yourself to only owning a website with a forum on it. Expand your horizons! You can gain followers on many social networks while releasing custom content there. Your forum should be one outlet of your imagination and community efforts. If you need custom forum software development then you likely already have grand plans. Perhaps you will make something similar to Facebook, with business pages that can release different sections or units of content, with downloads, discussions, and other information. Or maybe you will make something similar to Slack, but with public channels for discussions. A well-coded script to detect trains of thought and different discussions can auto-categorize chats and content releases, with user or admin overrides for highlighted or selected messages. Whatever community you are building, you can implement forum related logic and features!