Message boards? Those are so 1990's errr...was it early 2000's? If I was giving advice to a client I would definitely steer them toward something more modern. Set up a Facebook page, hop on Twitter, Pin something for goodness sake. But I have a confession to make. I've been spending more time on Message Boards than I have any other social network lately. Why the throwback, you may ask? I'm pregnant. Yes, it is true, and I am trolling the mommy boards on the What to Expect When You're Expecting site like no other. At first I was just a lurker, but now I'm a poster. I'm asking questions about which stroller to buy, whether or not I need to strap my baby on to me and if so, what do I do with the other one? (Did I mention it is twins?)
I have to admit these Boards are extremely useful, and here's why.
1. Anonymity. I don't want to be friends with these ladies on Facebook. Maybe it's their hormones or maybe they always skew toward the unhappy, but there are some "feisty" women on these boards. The Forum / Message Board function allows me to get what I need out of it without getting personal.
2. Common bonds. These ladies are just as obsessed/terrified/excited as me. We are all going through this new experience together. All due in July. And despite differences in personalities, political views, geography, all feeling the same aches and pains. Forums are great for bringing people together with a strong common interest.
3. Separation from my "social" social world. I'm not a big fan of posting every day about my pregnancy. I have a few photos of me pregnant but that's only because I went on vacation and happened to be pregnant. It gets to be overload when your friends share every moment of their pregnancy, soon to be followed by every moment of their labor and new child. I've been on the receiving end of the newsfeed and I swore I wouldn't do it. The forums allow me to have a place strictly for baby comments and for people who actually care about baby stuff.
4. You get to learn a new language. You know you're a part of an intense community when you have to learn the lingo to participate. DD (Darling Daughter), MIL (Mother In Law), FTM (First Time Mom), TTC (Trying to Conceive). I could go on and on. It took me awhile but I am in. It's kind of a barrier to entry, and inevitably some newbie will get on and actually ask what everything means. Please, you think these ladies are going to take the time to explain? You need to figure that one out. It's a rite of passage.
5. You get to listen in. Marketers should be here. I can't help it. Even when talking about my pepperoncini cravings I'm thinking with my marketing hat on. If I was a company in the baby products industry or even a doctor I would be listening on this board like no other. The women are constantly talking about their needs, recommending products, complaining about OB GYNs. It's like Yelp, Urbanspoon and TripAdvisor rolled up into one for the baby industry. Trust me, you want in on this conversation.
I'm not saying abandon Facebook or Twitter by any means. What I am saying is find the online communities where your hard core consumers are having an in-depth conversation and you'll find rich insights and feedback to be had. Maybe you can host one yourself (more tricky when they know the brand is listening) or maybe you can just be a fly on the wall, but don't disregard this space, unless you can't stomach all the husband bashing, odes to Taco Bell and Mother In Law rants. In which case, I completely understand.