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From another article [sfgate.com] about web communities:
Advertisers see social networks as free focus groups. Already, Apple Computers has bought the right to start groups on Facebook, roping college kids into an advertising campaign by dangling the prospect of a free iPod.
It's cool to see the pendulum swing to communities because a lot of us have been building web forums, sometimes not making any money, wondering if maybe it's time to pack it in.
Is it time to dust off your old forum?
Is it time to build communities that target specific demographics?
I do think that businesses are increasingly interested in communities. How many will commit to a well-organized and ongoing community building effort remains to be seen. Throwing a forum out there and hoping for the best is a sure prescription for unsatisfactory results.
We are seeing increasing value placed on communities - look at the Myspace acquisition. Of course, critical mass is of the utmost importance; Myspace was valuable because of its size and reach.
Turned out that a great number of the forum members were men! There was a male gardener backlash [king5.com], too.
Nevertheless, if an iVillage bought gardenweb, your forum could be next.
we don't need more forums. We need a revolution in the mindset of advertisers. Our forums are a fantastic marketing opportunity. Once they realise this, and we can provide them with some more sophisticated advertising/product placement opportunities than crappy banners, forums will become a viable source of income, and the value of our forums should shoot up.
The ball is in both courts at the moment - we need to imagine up new opportunities, advertisers have to wisen up