Creating forums for clients. Open tools for entrepreneurs.

Creating customer forums

As the Internet evolves and technology advances, new options are replacing those that were once the most popular. That does not mean that those tools should be abandoned as they can still be useful.

This is the case of forums that may be the best option for building customer relationships.

In the days before social media, forums were the first way multiple users could exchange messages online. In fact, their roots predate the Internet as they are direct descendants of the "bulletin boards" to which users connected from their acoustic modems to exchange information. The first such program dates from the mid-70s

Today forums are websites that allow people to exchange ideas on topics of common interest. Although most forums allow you to view their content without registering, they usually require registration in order to participate actively. At first, this registration was done using an email account, but now many allow you to use your account on social networks.

Users are identified by an avatar and a pseudonym.

Functioning and usefulness of the forums

The functioning of the forums is as follows. A user posts a message containing questions, opinions, images, audio, video or links to external content. Other users can access that message at any time and reply (both to the original message and to any of the replies.

The set of message and responses constitute a thread. Threads can be grouped into topics and depending on the size and purpose of the site the topics are classified into sub-forums.

For the characteristics we mentioned, forums are a great way to build relationships with customers and employees.

Traditional channels like phone and email only allow individual communications. This leads to a considerable waste of time answering the same questions over and over again. In the case of social networks, it is they that determine the form of content presentation and the order of presentation.

Forums don't just make the answers to some users' questions available to others. It also makes it easier for them to collaborate by finding solutions. It is also much easier to find the desired information since content managers have more powerful search tools.

A clarification. Although a few months ago I mentioned three tools for creating forums on Addicts Linux, the ones that I am going to comment on now are ideal for corporate use since they have an efficient consumption of resources and can share a server and interact with corporate and e-commerce portals.

Creating customer forums using open tools

Vanilla

In this case we the classic model of an application that is paid if you want commercial support and hosting or free if you settle for community support and use your own server.

Focused on small businesses that want to grow, it is optimized for search engines, existing sites and marketing applications. It is also highly customizable.

phpBB

Maybe is The most popular of content managers for the creation of forums. It is ideal for managing small user communities as well as complex forums with multiple sub-forums and topics. In the same way as Vanilla, it can also be integrated with existing sites, although in this case it is a 100% community application.

phpBB can be managed from its administration panel and is highly customizable thanks to the templates and extensions developed by the community.

SMF

They are the acronym for Simple Machine Forum. It is a highly customizable content manager for forum but with an efficient consumption of server resources.

Features

  • Advanced template system to customize forums.
  • Supports several languages ​​at the same time.
  • Track unread threads over a period.
  • Optimized for search engines.
  • Package manager to facilitate the installation and uninstallation of add-ons.

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