SUMMARY: Tapatalk surveyed over 1,000 Americans who have visited a forum site and/or used Facebook, Twitter or Reddit. The findings demonstrated that Americans are increasingly turning to forums – rather than the feeds or pages of Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, to find the answers they seek regarding specific questions and niche topics as well as to discuss their hobbies with other enthusiasts. However, in examining the research closely it’s pretty safe to say that it’s flawed.
Overall, the survey results demonstrated that the vast majority of people (63%) go online daily to ask questions. Although large social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter remain very popular, 74% of Americans think the integrity of mainstream social media sites are diminishing and are less likely to use them to find trusted information.
Now there are some things to consider with this data:
1ne: Tapatalk is a vendor offering forum software.
2wo: How many people really “ask questions” on social media?
3hree: According to Google, the number of people typing questions in online searches has increased.
I have spent a good part of my career working in healthcare marketing and I believe I am an expert on how people search for health information. I know, for example, that online health seekers will read posts from other patients on social media, but very few will act on what they find without searching for more information online. This presents an interesting question… Will people really type questions in social media to find answers to their questions? My guess is “no”.
Last summer we spent a lot of time on the road listening to how people use social media in an era of “fake news” and “fake social media accounts”. We heard, in qualitative research, that a lot of Millennial’s, for example, use their social media feeds as media rich RSS feeds. Why go to 4 or 5 different sites in the morning when your Facebook feed can show you all the updates.
We also learned that Boomers use social media to stay in touch with colleagues, family members and old friends. Not once did we hear anyone say “I use social media to get answers to questions”. They WILL use social media to question brands about their products, but they don’t use social media for general questions.
Now about online forums. People will use them, providing they can remain anonymous. They don’t want people to know, for example, that they are researching a certain health condition or the best way to end a relationship.
Online forums can be a great asset to a brand or product category, but you had better have someone who can monitor posts 24/7 because they are ripe for SPAM and bad information.
When a company such as Tapatalk releases some information you have to question how the study was conducted and the questions they asked, and didn’t ask. To me these findings are common sense but then a lot of marketers today lack common sense.