Internet Forums as a marketing tool: a case study of international internet marketing on forums

Internet is a growing channel for companies to conduct business. The internet is a competitive environment and it is hard to attract customers’ attention mostly because of the size of internet and the amount of information available it is hard to stick out from the crowd. One way to better reach specific customer segments is the use of interaction places on the internet called forums. On forums customers can share information regarding interest and experience about products. The recommendations that are given by other customers are perceived as more credible than commercial information only designed to sell. This communication between customers is known as word of mouth (WOM) and is a valuable asset for companies that customers has a positive attitude towards. The accessibility and wide reach of internet combined with the aspect of word of mouth makes this concept attractive for companies.

There are a number of known approaches for companies to make their products visible on the internet forum. The word of mouth spread on the forum is not always positive and can be false accusations from unserious users. The forum is an opportunity as well as a threat and there is little a company can do to defend them selves against anonymous complaints. Marketers also face the challenge of managing the credibility aspect of being percent on a customer forum as a marketer since all information is perceived as non-commercial by the users.

Our study concluded that companies should avoid having their own presence on forums since the credibility aspect pose a great threat to the company and their image. Companies should also consider which forum to be percent on and a guiding tool for this is the presence of moderators and rules to preserve the forum quality. This forum is a great information source for a company and is a good tool for feedback and the sharing of ideas.

Author: Dignell, Mårten; Mattila, Daniel

Source: Luleå University of Technology

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