A few weeks ago I experienced a poor customer service experience that I blogged about here. Out of a subtle rage I decided to research all I could about the company and make as many people aware of my experience so others could avoid running into a similar situation. What I discovered borderline shocked me.

When researching online, most of my consumer reports and experiential information regarding that company came in the form of message boards.

I had almost forgotten about them.

Message boards are what I would call one of the oldest pieces of social media real estate out there. Much of our current "big" social networks are based around our similar message board-like style. Just look at Facebook for example. Sure you can write up on someone's wall. But then you could also comment on a post, with other people commenting to where there is a short threaded conversation. The comments section of blog posts serve similar functions. Instead of having a thread topic title, the post itself serves as the topic with extended discussion spawning from its content.

In regards to the big social networks, LinkedIn uses forums as a huge part of their communication channels. Almost all messages outside of the private inbox are sent via some sort of message board or forum.

We concentrate heavily on the big social networks like Facebook and Twitter. With the millions of users and publicity on those sites, we often forget that there are other conversations right under our noses. If social media involves more listening than talking, message forums are a great place to start. Forums aren't the rotary phone of the internet but still remain as a relevant form of communication, sharing and discussion on brands and experiences. It's a great resource to learn how your audience is responding to your brand or product.

Message boards and forums have the outlook of being mostly negative bickering about something. This still keeps them relevant. It takes listening to all the negative conversation about a brand to effectively re-position it, no matter how ridiculous some complaints may be.

It took me getting ripped off several hundred dollars in a poor customer experience to take the time to discover this. Hearing it from me should prove to be a much cheaper learning experience for you :)

How do you all see message boards still being used for marketing?