Over on Twitter, Rosie Sherry lamented the fact that too many conversations happen in ephemeral places like Twitter rather than on forums with greater permanence.
I’ve previously blogged about the ways social networking sites all too frequently suck the life out of forums and blogging, and I think the challenge is finding a space for blogs and forums in a world where everyone has accounts in Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. People are naturally lazy, and prefer a “one stop shop” approach expecting content to come to them rather than keep track of dozens of individual sites. It’s why so many businesses have abandoned their own web forums in favour of Facebook groups; that’s where their customers are.
A technical fix would be on solution; synching content between a blog or forum and a social network; I’ve looked at WordPress plugins that do precisely that. It’s certainly technically feasible for content to be shared both ways, for example, between a Facebook group and a stand-alone forum. The bigger problem is this comes up against the social networks’ walled-garden approach to monetising their services.
But that’s probably only a partial solution. For example, I find Twitter especially is very different in style and feel from blog and forum discussions. In some contexts, blogs and their associated comments sections are like conference presentations followed by a formal Q&A session. In contrast, Twitter is more like the informal discussions in the bar afterwards. So I’m not convinced that it’s a good idea to try and merge the two.
On the other hand, far more people are likely to read what I say on Twitter than on my blog, so the two need to coexist. Bloggers and forum owners need to make their sites sufficiently compelling that people will visit, and to use social media to promote them.
What do you think?