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Forum Moderators: buckworks
Is there something I am missing?
Could it be that most store owners don't have the time to administor things like forums etc?
One point that I can see that stands in the way is having community features MIGHT come in the way of advertising on other community sites since you site is competiting with theirs (sure you are selling products, but your forums are competing with their forums).
So tell me shop owners, why not? (and if some of you out there ARE doing this, how has it been?)
After 2 years that's a lot of $$$ they've paid (if broken down salary wise to an hourly rate) for having someone monitoring the forum and replying to questions.
I would think this wouldn't work for many communites (like candles) but could work for some (computer hardware). I think a place like NewEgg could have extremely successful forums.
If you were to offer support on the products then the community could develop from that but otherwise I see it as a bit of a non-starter for most projects.
That doesn't mean I still won't continue to do price and shipping cost comparisons at different sites, but from the viewpoint of someone who's had affiliate links on sites linking to that merchant, I can honestly say that it doesn't hurt one bit for more_than_decent conversion percentages, even when the reviews are less than perfect.
And we actually spend very little time on it since we got it set up to avoid all the usual spam, and found a couple of volunteers to moderate it.
Not sure how much business we actually get from it, but a host with a forum can be as cheap as $100 a year, so even one sale will pay for it.
A number of companies have tried them, as have we some years ago, and all have been pulled through lack of interest. People don't have much time for stuff like that anymore.
Without active "marketing" to get people involved, it's difficult to motivate customers to add the kind of good content we were looking for. People are quick to complain, and not motivated to share a positive story, or to reply to other customers posts.
Word-of-mouth marketing is, perhaps, one fo the most powerful marketing tools you cna utilize and benefit from. A properly administered Community Forum and Blog are, perhaps, two of the best modes for word-of-mouth marketing (not to mention MySpace).
The only real action it saw was spammers. We have since removed it. What is funny is we get a ton of links from other forums on the web.
That is pretty easy to get around with any decent forum software package, even most of the free ones.
The new versions of Vbulletin use Captcha, and we have been totall spam free on that.