Looking for thoughts on feedback forums

Here's something entertaining.  In a set of planning meetings last week, someone suggested looking into setting up some sort of feedback mechanism for our field sales to "enhance communication" with product marketing.  I immediately though of something along the lines of a community or forum - something more than a basic email box that was suggested in the discussion.

The entertaining part?  I am not sure where to start.  (And I think of myself as somewhat of an expert in this general area.)  The company has some of the technical capabilities.  But I am not sure the organization is ready to try something like a discussion group or a blog or wiki.  So... any bright ideas?

In addition, I came across this piece in the AMA Moving Ahead newsletter, So You Want to Launch an Online Forum about Patrick O'Keefe's book on Managing Online Forums.

Every day, millions of users log on to their favorite online forums to share advice and discuss everything from their favorite (or least favorite) products to world news and politics. In his new book Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards (AMACOM, 2008), Patrick O’Keefe (who manages seven communities), outlines the basics to get your online forum up and running.

The article is a high-level excerpt from the book.  An even higher-level excerpt is the headlines from the article:

  • Laying the Groundwork
  • Fundamental Decisions
  • What Will Your Community Cover?
  • Whom Do You Want to Attract?
  • What Will the Benefits of Your Community Be?
  • How Will You Support the Community Financially?
  • What Skills and Characteristics Do You Need to Have?

I like the last section, since my experience with forums large and small make it very clear that the leader / owner / advocate are what make or break the community.

2 Comment(s)

pokeefe Author Profile Page said:

Thank you very much, for the mention and kind words.

Patrick

Brett Author Profile Page said:

Jack,

I would agree that you are "somewhat of an expert in this general area", but it sounds like part of the challenge is that the people who would use the system you set up are not. Getting them to the point of being just "comfortable" with the system is probably a big part of meeting the challenge.

I recently set up a community on ning.com (trampandtumble.ning.com) as a way to try to connect the global community of Trampoline and Tumbling coaches, athletes, and parents. I've found it to be pretty effective, considering this is something completely new to most of the intended audience. (The athletes are very "Facebook-fluent" and have made the most use of the community so far.) Not sure if this is something you can consider, since it is hosted outside of the company firewall.

I'll definitely check out Patrick's book as I go forward. Sounds like something I could have used before just jumping in ;-)

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