Facebook is killing traditional forums, but there is still time to adapt

AndyB

Well-known member
#81
No matter how or where I promoted the forum, the people did not care for it. I can get comments and submissions on the front end, but literally none of my users had an interest in the forum anymore.
I suspect that's largely an issue due to having two content systems. For example if the forum was the front end and you had a link to wordpress, you might have had the opposite effect, that is members would not be interested in the wordpress portion of your website.
 

drastic

Well-known member
#82
I suspect that's largely an issue due to having two content systems. For example if the forum was the front end and you had a link to wordpress, you might have had the opposite effect, that is members would not be interested in the wordpress portion of your website.
The site was only a forum for the longest time. Had content on the homepage, did whatever I could to make it work and it failed. Even sharing things, from XF pages, on social media was a nightmare. If a user shared anything, there was no rich preview and the images were blocked and the text said [ attach ]. Just wasn't very inviting from a reader's perspective. The moment I put another CMS on the front is when things took off for the better. It just had a better presentation of content than what XF could offer at the time. Maybe those things will be fixed with the next version. XF is a great script, but it needs someone to look at things from a content/user perspective. What will new users see and do? We may not like it, but we need to follow social media trends and give people something that's familiar to what they see multiple times each day. Use social media to our advantage. Take what works best for them and implement it into our own projects.

Adapt or fail miserably. That's your options.
 

rwm1962

Active member
#83
Forums aside I know I know use Facebook more than ebay for selling & buying stuff & am getting ads for a trial of an online shop for a small monthly fee. They are a one-stop destination for so much now.
 
#86
Yup, Craigslist might as well be dead too, FB marketplace is fast, heck I had 30 takers for a 17 year old mattress in just a few days. But that's for the most part unrelated to this issue, IMO FB market is effective locally mainly
It is dying. As someone that has used it to sell off most of my old tech stuff, getting deals done on there is becoming a rarity. Only folks left to seem to be extreme lowballers. Meanwhile, I'm in several local Facebook tech sales groups and usually can get items sold in a fraction of the time.
 
#88
@Anthony Parsons - I love the work Pixel Exit does. I also enjoy work by Audentio. They're both great in what they do. They have different styles to them that should be appreciated. The problem with designers is that there's simply not enough GOOD ones. There's a bunch of others people who simply change colors or add an element or two, but they're just painting the same ugly design a different color. I like that Pixel Exit and Audentio, or ThemeHouse (whatever it is nowadays) at least try to do things a little bit different.

The other problem with designs is that the website owner often has no idea what they want. Designers will only make what you tell them to make. Xenforo out of the box looks like crap, but you know what- it's not Xenforo's job to paint the house. They give us the script and it's OUR job to make it look good. Now XF could come up with something that doesn't look like it's from 2003, that's for sure....

@Robru - you think if people want a deep explanation of something, that they're looking for a forum? No they're not. They're going to blogs. Forums are mostly popular with an older crowd who experienced them from the start. The younger crowd will ask people on social media, join Facebook groups (there's groups bigger than most people's forums), and search Google. Looking on a forum, for a younger user, is not even in their vocabulary most of the time. Even worse is that Google will rarely rank forum content above that on a blog. Forums are not very SEO friendly and ones locked behind a password have even less chance to be seen on Google. Look at the comment section on some of the big blogs out there. Some blogs can get more interaction on their comments than some people can get on their entire forum. You CAN have in depth discussions without using

Forums can survive, but they need content on the homepage and a very easy way to login and post. It doesn't have to look like social media, but if it's as easy to use (posting takes 2 seconds on any social site), then people will enjoy it. The index page of a forum, with little content and a big blank spot in the middle, is probably the #1 reason that 1) Google don't care about it, and B) most people (especially younger) do NOT return to the forums.

I agree with a lot of what you're saying.

I think everyone running a xenforo forum needs to really step back and look at the social media landscape and how it's evolved.

The current form of xenforo just doesn't cut it anymore. At the very least requires heavy customization on your end for a chance to have any sort of relevance. People nowadays want instant access without jumping through any hurtles.

I'm trying to apply a lot of what you're saying to my own forum. I was even thinking about having only one page. Or maybe making the homepage a "feed" bar like reddit, and listing relevant threads/ upvoted threads, so that's the first thing people see when they visit nefitter.
 

drastic

Well-known member
#89
The article manager is a brilliant addon for XF. Using that as a homepage, even without having the forum at all, is great. You can run a content based site without using WordPress. Big fan of that addon!

When I had a forum live, the homepage either used AMS (article manager) or was a single node categorized by prefixes. I tried XFMG and the SonnB addons, but the lack of integration with threads just makes it a bad user experience. It's like if you have one of those media managers enabled, then you should disable your threads all together and focus on the media. If you're focusing on media, then you should use a script that displays media better, which definitely isn't a forum or blog script.
 

Kintaro

Well-known member
#90
FB marketplace is fast, heck I had 30 takers for a 17 year old mattress in just a few days. But that's for the most part unrelated to this issue, IMO FB market is effective locally mainly
FB activated Marketplace in Italy now... it's a big thing! But limited to 100 Km radius (62 miles).
Xenforo really needs a well supported Markeplace addon.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
#91
The Facebook marketplace is also activated in Australia, Canada, Chile, Mexico, New Zealand, UK, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
 

Ludachris

Well-known member
#92
When you start a forum your future is in your hands. You can decide to offer a paid membership, use Google Adsense, sell banner ads, etc. When you start a Facebook group you can create something "big", but it's under Mark Zuckerburg's umbrella. Only Zuckerburg, his employees, and shareholders profit from the effort of FB Group's Admins.
From what I've noticed, the people who usually want a larger FB Group end up being service providers that are growing the group in order to increase the audience they can sell to. They're mainly marketers. That's who benefits the most from a large FB Group. They don't get paid by the participation or by selling advertising in the group like forums traditionally do, but they sure as hell profit from it in other ways, and in a massive way sometimes. The larger FB Groups tend to be nothing more than a marketing tool for those who are selling something. Running a forum wouldn't make sense for many of those people.

As for the thread title... in some ways, Facebook IS killing tradition forums, in some niches more than others. Some forums on the other hand, are experiencing growth and might be less affected by social networks. A variety of factors come into play. The niche itself; the demographic for that niche, the needs in the niche, and the way the niche lends itself to various software solutions (forums and social networks). The vision, skill set, experience, commitment, and motive of the forum admin also come in to play. Etc, etc, etc. Not only will every niche be different, but every forum in that niche will be in a different situation. As one person mentioned in a reply above, it's about evolving to meet the needs of the community you're trying to serve. You can't make blanket statements that will apply to all forums.

What we have to accept as forum owners is that we are a disjointed group with different motives and niches completely dependent upon an "off the shelf" software package that is meant to provide features and functionality to make the majority of XF license owners happy. And those license owners answer to their forum members - many of which don't like change and enjoy the traditional forum model. Some of us are competing with each other for eyeballs. Couple all that with the fact that sometimes the best functionality making social media so easy to use simply isn't that easy to address in forums and is expensive to address, and it's easy to see why visionary forum owners get frustrated. But that's always going to be a shortcoming of using off the shelf software.

The only real way to get some of these ideas implemented (like easy media uploading from mobile, content bubbling, push notifications, etc) is going to be suggesting them to the XF developers and getting as many other forum admins to speak up and say they need these features too. If that doesn't work, the only other option is to get together with those who did speak up and see if you can share the costs of a custom developed plugin, or get it developed yourself. Of course, finding great, dependable XF developers who have time these days isn't necessarily that easy. But that's the reality we live in.

Anyone who is looking for other forum admins to share the costs of creating a custom add-on, feel free to hit me up and see if I'm interested. I'd be willing to share the cost if it makes sense for my projects - maybe we should start a FB Group for other XF forum admins looking to invest in custom plugins LOL! Kidding.
 

Alfa1

Well-known member
#93
In the past you had to worry about your most prominent members setting up their own forum and inviting all your members over.
But most failed anyway as they would go with a free platform or couldn't manage the technical aspects of being a webmaster.
Now all members connect on social media. Everyone and their dog has a Facebook group or a subreddit.

It's no longer a question of if there will be an exodus but rather how many exodus will take place, how frequent and if the site will replenish with new signups quick enough to retain activity.

The outflow to social media platforms is as drastic as the change from desktop to mobile.

I can see that my sites will probably have over 150 add-ons to be able to offer the required functionality to stay relevant .

The biggest issues with xenforo I see are multilingual limitations , content discovery limitations , fragmentation of content types, and multisite or group functionality.
 

STORMS

Active member
#94
Forums Are Not Dead.... but are being killed by the following mistakes....
Non-responsive designs
Lack of mobile support
Difficult uploading of images
Clunky software
Clunky interface
Not offering things that social media giants do not
Poor leadership
Poor site culture
Hidden content
Lack of SSL
No Push Notifications
Too many forums
Too broad of genre
Too shallow of genre
Off topic forums
Poor SEO
Lack of direction or goals
Competition with other forums of same niche (someday we will have to join together to stay live)
More....
At the end of the day, not all people want to or will go to Facebook for their content creation.

Before I go further with that, YouTube and Discord are also culprits of competition.

Back to what I was saying though, my discussion topics usually tether our members to our boards because of how long we've been around, plus we change, we post news (many times weekly, if not daily) and we have a responsive design. However, one thing that does not help and might be the real forum killer is AdBlock. How are you to earn revenue to pay for your site expenses when you're not making anything or very little compared to what you're used to?

It definitely feels like forums are dying off in ways. Our forum is over 2M posts strong and this year will be 9 years that we've been around.

With an announcement I'm hoping to make soon... hopefully, it will open more doors for us again.

I agree with all of the points you made.
 

STORMS

Active member
#96
If you're worried about adblock, what do you think about the new Brave browser and the BAT crypto?
I don't know much about it, but I found this while searching:
It claims to block website trackers and remove intrusive Internet advertisements.
It is what it is... if it's all advertisements, I don't know how they could be legal considering Google Adsense publishers would be affected and Google would be affected. If it's intrusive ads only, I'm not terribly worried.

My hands are tied either way... just gotta try to ride the waves and maybe try thinking out of the box on my website.
 
#97
It blocks everything. You can download the browser and try it out.

They plan on letting webmasters sign up and users can buy their BAT cryptocurrency to support sites they like or earn it through viewing ads from the browser. The CEO is Brendan Eich, if you're familiar.
 

tommydamic68

Well-known member
#99
Don't use facebook. Buy a license and set up your own forum. Facebook is full of the wrong kind of people on there that you might attract.
Not sure what world you live in or what your forum base is but most human beings over 30 have a Facebook page or other social media account. Funny, I was watching a video on an "interview with a millennial" and the young girl had a laugh when asked about Facebook and how its for "old" people like her parents.

 
Not sure what world you live in or what your forum base is but most human beings over 30 have a Facebook page or other social media account. Funny, I was watching a video on an "interview with a millennial" and the young girl had a laugh when asked about Facebook and how its for "old" people like her parents.

Im between 30-100
I hate facebook, and do not use any type
of smartphone for surfing, even though I have the ability...

by all accounts, im not too young, not to old, so therefore
I should have a facebook account, and shop and surf
online using my smartphone, but I dont....

I have never been a fan of facebook...
and never been a fan using a phone to surf....

OMG, whats wrong with me...?
Im not normal....
 
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