What to Consider when Creating an Effective Online Forum for your Construction Members

We recently discussed in a previous blog post how to keep your construction members for your organisation engaged online by providing all of the right assets on your website – one of which touched upon the benefits of an online forum.

Within this post, we’re going to discuss in a little more detail the benefits to specialist forums and what to consider before implementing your own.

First of all, why should specialist forums be considered for your construction membership organisation? Take a look at some of the key benefits for your members below:

Enables members to connect and network with others in the same field
• Provides a platform to share valuable industry-led information
• Offers members the opportunity to provide feedback & ask questions on content

And for you managing your construction membership organisation…

• Provides an additional means of interacting with members
• Enables you to ask opinions or highlight new potential resources
• Creates a list of insightful feedback and information that you can use in your marketing planning & future decision-making
• Provides a thought-leadership platform to differentiate your organisation from the competition
• Increasing member satisfaction through providing a live information source leads to an increase in members
• Enables you to shift conversations happening over social media onto your own website to help with brand equity and content management

However before you decide to implement a specialist forum of your own, read the following tips to ensure your efforts are helping to create an integrated construction marketing plan. 

What are your business objectives?

While the benefits of membership forums are clear to see, it’s very important to understand what your personal objective is: how will a forum directly contribute towards achieving your business goals? List out what the benefits would be to your business and if substantial enough, outline how you’ll then turn these points into measurable marketing objectives; this will help to ensure you reap the benefits from your forum and are able to monitor its’ success in the long run.

How much internal resource is available?

Ultimately, forums require participation from both sides, meaning you’ll need the appropriate internal resource to not only actively listen, participate and offer expert advice when necessary, but also to ensure everything is running smoothly. If you’re concerned about inappropriate messages being posted on the rare occasion, then moderated forums will enable you to approve any comments before they’re published.

Consider assigning forum management to a specific board member with high technical knowledge, or even a group of ‘community moderators’ to both prompt and monitor discussions. Similarly to monitoring social media platforms, you cannot commit half-heartedly to a forum – so decide from the beginning whether you are able to effectively manage this going forward.

Are certain policies required for specialist forums?

The short answer – yes. Visitors and members of your forum must be made clear as to how they can use the facility and what rules you’ve put in place to ensure conversations are of relevance and high quality. As with social media activity, create a simple document that outlines the “terms of use” or “forum rules” that can be sent out to new visitors who join the platform. Establishing what you will or will not accept in posts from the very beginning will not only guide members but also your ‘community moderators’ as to how particular posts should be dealt with. If one of your moderators does need to remove or modify a post in your forum, an alert will then need to be sent to the relevant posters involved, with an explanation as to why this was done.

How can you manage your forum’s success?

While there will need to be additional engagement tactics required at the very beginning of your forum creation to encourage conversations between members, the good news is that once you’ve built a significant number of participants, topics should naturally formulate and grow as more members participate. However, it’s important not to get too comfortable here and neglect the amount of content you’ve naturally acquired. Take note of the conversations that are being had and identify where the gaps lie with the content you’re currently providing. In addition, continue to promote the credibility of your forum through personalised email campaigns, social media and upcoming industry events. Remember – like all construction marketing tactics, there’s always room to refine and grow your forum by measuring what’s currently working and what changes can be implemented to further refine the process.

For more information on how to drive further engagement through effective content marketing, download our eBook here, or for direct advice, give us a call on 01908 671707.

James Necek

About James Necek

Passionate about the power of the written word, James has spent many years honing his skills and talent to deliver creative and technical content for various clients in the construction and automotive industries. Having recently joined the Pauley Creative team this year, it’s James’ role to ensure content is managed for our clients on a daily basis.

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