A while ago I was reading the recent “2013 Social Media Survey” by Proboards ( a forum software company) and the results where not a surpriose for me. The final note was: "The interactive communication preferences across all platforms are still heading towards forums - not Facebook nor Twitter".
Although you might think that they asked their own users (which is probably right), the survey still shows the importance of forums and communities. For their results the company promoted the research to over 150 respondents via Facebook, Twitter, and the ProBoards customer support forum.
The study claims that online forums are still popular. What was interesting for me to see is that they were even preferred compared to social media platform for interactive communication. Two out of three respondents (67%) stated that forums were the social media tool they found most valuable. Obviously, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and Google+ follow but the question here could be asked whether most people realize that all these platforms are also forums if used in the right way. That LinkedIn did not figure in as a significant social media tool is in my eyes not correct as the forums there within, are very powerful and interactive, plus they generate very valueable input for managers.
The survey results did not surprise me since platforms such as Facebook and Twitter do not give you the level of control and meaningful posts that forums do. Simply said, Forums provide greater customization, more options and more "beef".
Forums -although we would define them as communities according to our Community Centric Strategy- offer a great way of engaged communication, and probably with better and deeper quality than any other social network.