Other

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!

Chief Operating Officer at a website & app development company, American football & rugby enthusiast, traveler, obsessed with space, run on se...

Ghost

Seasoned Veteran
Jun 25, 2009
3,216
193
213
Earth
wubur.com
FP$
2,610
@Ghost Nice article, I had a question Do Forums need social media accounts? like Twitter Fb, Linkedin, Instagram, Discord?
Thanks buddy! I think that forums should always connect to whatever social networks the admin and members will actually use. For the forum referenced in the article (Code Forum), it appears that Reddit was a good way to engage users. It's not so much about just being on the social networks... it's about engaging the public and bringing in new members. If you can't commit to be an active Facebook user, then don't use Facebook. That said, I would think most forums should use at least 1 main social network that is popular with their target audience to be successful. :)

Some I do agree that social media has killed Forums for discussions and sharing your stuff online.
I think the reality is that social networks that are popular have redefined what a forum or community for discussions and sharing your stuff online should look and feel like. I have faith that "old school forums" can adapt to be more like social networks. As for social "media" - everything you share on a forum, including this article and my reply, is a social response. Social media was circulating the very first forums, IRC, AIM chat rooms, MySpace, Friendster, MyYearBook, FormSpring, and many other social networks before Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Snapchat etc came along. Before TikTok we had Vine. Before that we had a giant collection of sites, networks, and apps that supported short style videos. Social media IS forums... but how we SEE a forum has changed. Deep down I have realized that the only thing that social networks in their modern form have done is change how a forum looks. A traditional forum has a selection of categories to choose from on the home page, a search bar and maybe a few interesting plugins like a live chat box, or a collection of most recent or popular posts. A social network has a collection of most recent and popular posts, live chats, a search bar, and pre-defined categories/groups/pages to visit. When you REALLY think about it, Facebook is just a massive worldwide forum with a cool theme installed and a preference for trending posts and forced logins rather than an old school forum style of category links on the home page and post counts.

My mother recently started a new business for her parent coaching and therapy sessions. It revolves around online sessions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has created 1 main Facebook business page, 1 private Facebook group for her parent workshops, and 1 static HTML website. She has content releases and announcements, discussions, a community, private messaging, Like buttons, and other features to help her run her business and plan her workshops. She has more at her fingertips with Facebook than most forums do, as far as quickly starting a community. Can she upload a custom theme? No. Logo? Yes. Banner? Yes. Announcements? Yes. "Categories" ? Yes, she has "units" that she can release on her group page to categorize her workshops, downloads, discussions, etc. My mother has effectively started a "forum" community on Facebook. That's what this article is about - the realization that it's possible we have gotten the whole idea of "forums" wrong for years. Perhaps social networks are actually what gave forums life to the whole world rather than the killer of "forums". Once you start asking yourself what a forum really is and forcing yourself to understand that a forum is not just how the data and information is presented or designed in a theme... you start to understand that social networks and forums are pretty much the same thing with different overlays.
 

Hanging Chad

#vote2020
Administrator
May 11, 2010
18,250
1,871
733
24
Nashville, TN
www.camerontaylor.net
FP$
127,239
Pokemon Master
Like Badge
Cookie Badge
With the rise of social media, plenty of forums have become inactive wastelands. I would argue that it's typically been the forums that aren't niche specific though. You see lots of forums with very general topics really struggle (general, gaming, sports, politics, technology, etc), but then you see forums that are honed in on a very specific discussion topic still hang on. Some examples that come to mind would be a gaming forum dedicated to a specific video game, a sports forum dedicated to one specific team, or a general forum dedicated to one very specific hobby.... And then Facebook Groups were invented, and now I don't know what the future holds for forums as a whole. All of those niche specific forums now have a dedicated Facebook group for that particular discussion topic.
 

Boo

Reputable
Feb 9, 2020
157
38
28
FP$
1,870
With the rise of social media, plenty of forums have become inactive wastelands. I would argue that it's typically been the forums that aren't niche specific though. You see lots of forums with very general topics really struggle (general, gaming, sports, politics, technology, etc), but then you see forums that are honed in on a very specific discussion topic still hang on. Some examples that come to mind would be a gaming forum dedicated to a specific video game, a sports forum dedicated to one specific team, or a general forum dedicated to one very specific hobby.... And then Facebook Groups were invented, and now I don't know what the future holds for forums as a whole. All of those niche specific forums now have a dedicated Facebook group for that particular discussion topic.
I honestly don’t see why? FB is just awful... everything about it... almost all social media is..
 

rfharris

Familiar Face
Nov 5, 2015
59
0
16
30
www.rankfirsthosting.com
FP$
72
I don't think social networks have killed forums. There are still lots of forums who are doing great and helping millions of people with quality discussions and useful information.