When was the last time your car made a funny noise or ran a little hotter than usual? Chances are, you quickly consulted a web browser for answers and found your way to a forum full of similar consumers and car enthusiasts, all eager to get answers to questions and argue over best solutions. A few pages through the conversation and you probably end up with a fairly educated guess as to whether a trip to a mechanic, or a car parts dealer, is in order.
Forums like the one mentioned are an invaluable resource for segments and communities of people across nearly every industry or interest. These focused conversational microcosms can be created for virtually any purpose or topic, and most usually allow concentrated attention on specific questions.
From businesses using forums internally, sharing common IT issues, to fans of a specific book or movie genre, these forums contain interesting conversational patterns that could enable their parent organizations to better understand customer and worker needs, motivations, and desires.
When you know how conversations are connected, the chance to better serve those involved in the forum emerges–as well as a unique opportunity to develop other forms of value from the conversations.