Crucial Differences Between Blogs and Forums as Tools for Two-Way Interactive Online Communications

I mentioned in my previous articles that RSS technology it can be used successfully as an improved substitute for emails.

People just subscribe to RSS Feeds and can use multiple RSS readers to read those feeds. Everybody major search engines -Google, Yahoo! and MSN now offer personalized “home pages” for their readers and the ability to subscribe to numerous sources on those pages and read them right there. So now everyone has Integrated RSS readersso to speak.

What I didn’t realize before is that blogging now you can also do many forum functions. In fact, forums in the future might give up most of their the power of interactive two-way communications to the blogs.

Why? Let’s take a look at the forums closely. What are the main purposes of the forums? Provide a place for people with certain common interests to meet and interact with each other and to communicate interactively with the forum host.

when the newsletter editor send emails to your subscribers list, it’s a one-way communication. If you really care about your subscribers, you want to give them a way to communicate with you, ask questions, provide feedback, like and dislike, request additional information on the particular topic, etc.

Emails aren’t really an option anymore, many publishers get so spammed they just delete emails from unknown sources.

So forum is a great way to create a communityfor people to help each other and talk to other people and the forum host.

Plus, it’s a great way to create new content on autopilot. Hopefully, you’ll have some informed members on your forum and post thoughtful responses to other people’s questions. And those answers will lead to new questions, and so on.

You’ve just got an ever-growing source of useful unique content, and search engines love new unique content.

However, there are some notable drawbacks to the forum structure. First, when you allow people to communicate freely with each other, unfortunately they have a tendency not only to help other people, but also to criticize them. Some are helping, some are hitting. You want your forum to remain a friendly place where people are willing to help each other, so you need to take some administrative steps: hire moderators, ban “bad apples,” etc.

Also, it’s not that easy to bring the forum to life. You need to get at least a few hundred people to subscribe to your forum in a short period of time, or it will slowly die. And you need to keep people active.

Even if your forum is thriving (which, of course, is a good thing), you have another problem. It’s hard to keep track of topics on the forum. You created it for the purpose of discussing certain topics, but after a while the forum will start to live its own life and you never know what other topic will pop up. It can be a good thing, it can be a bad thing. But it certainly doesn’t help to keep this place in line with its initial concept.

Ok, so let’s summarize the drawbacks of forums: possible offensive posts and additional administration costs, forums are difficult to launch, difficult to keep posts in line with their initial concept.

Now let’s take a look at the blogs. They have a fantastic feature called “comments”. That means anyone who has visited your site can leave a comment on your post (if you enabled comments in your blog settings, of course). They can tell you what they like, what they don’t like, ask you questions, etc.

Those comments could be followed by other people’s comments on previous comments, questions, answers, and recommendations, and that’s how you get rolling.

However, it is up to you to decide whether you want to post a particular comment on your blog or not. If the comment attacks another visitor or doesn’t add any value to your blog, why bother posting it? Just delete it and the end of the story.

And with blogs, people tend to keep the discussion close to the topic of the post, allowing you to keep the topic in line with your concept.

Which of the drawbacks of the forum have I not covered yet? Launch? Well, with the blog it is very easy.

You’re not launching the place for interactive communication per se, you already have a blog. Just send an email to your list and let them know that you gave them a place to ask you questions.

You don’t have to worry if you have a question or a dozen for this particular post. The blog will not die as long as you post new information on it. Some people will like one post, others will want to comment on another, and that’s how you get your community interactive, with little effort and no headache!

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