Social networks are content agnostic and in the case of Facebook for example, closely linked with friends and family.
Yes there are pages and groups which are related to a specific subject, but they are incidental and supplementary to the main purpose of the site.
Forums for the most part are focussed on a specific subject, and the forum you are a member of may not be one that your friends or family are interested in.
Indeed, it's highly likely that all of your friends and family have their own favourite subjects and therefore forums (if they participate in them).
They serve very different audiences and purposes.
For general chit chat amongst friends, posting memes, stupid jokes, throwaway comments, etc., Facebook et al are great.
For discussing a specific subject in depth, having rich content, tabulated data, custom developed apps and functions, etc. and being able to refer back to a post you made a year ago, or even a month ago, and kick-starting the discussion again, forums have Facebook beat every time.
My opinion is, this is a very perceptive statement. It tells me the people at Xenforo think a lot about the product they put out there for the rest of us. I imagine at many a Thursday or Friday night beer session after work, there is much talk about the features and ideas and where the forum and yes, the Snapchat, Reddit and Instagram and Twitter and Facebook communities etc. etc. etc are all going.
My two cents aren't worth much, especially as a new user. Here are a few of my thoughts so far for Xenforo:
1) For Xenforo, stick to your knitting. Five years ago we went with Joomla as a CMS, because Wordpress had few features. After 18 months gave it up as just too geeky. Wordpress was nothing then. Now we are back on Wordpress, happy with it, and still learning features. Xenforo shouldn't even be considering any kind of front-end CMS until they have spent every last waking minute making Xenforo the best it can be.
2) We are still learning Xenforo. Absolutely, I am so impressed with the thought that has gone into this product, I cannot say enough good things. These days, when I have an issue, I think to myself, when I can't find a function, "What would be the logical place to put something?" And there it is! And the things I need to find down the road, I hope they will be where I would put them!
3) I just integrated log ins using Facebook and Twitter. It wasn't easy. The Xenforo information starts out with good links and info, and falls apart after that, mainly because the stuff at the two big sites seems to have changed. Funny thing, getting help at Facebook and Twitter is worse. And if you want to really lose your mind these days, try setting up Google Analytics and Adsense with multiple domains and users. In our shop, we call this deliberate or accidental mis-guiding, incomplete, sloppy workmanship "job security." I guess mechanics, fishermen and these days, software coders, to name only a few, never give away all their secrets. That makes life miserable for the rest of us, and so many just give up. So far, Xenforo has been one of the easiest programs I have ever found to set up and manage. But, I am still a beginner. Hopefully they will always stay a couple steps ahead of me.
4) Now, that said, twenty years ago I had to make some difficult hardware decisions between Cisco and some of the other hardware suppliers of the day. I love easy to use. But I have to say, I ended up buying Cisco because I was so impressed with the depth of engineering that went into the their products. Their nearest competition might have ten ways to control a certain aspect of their box. Cisco would literally have 500. Incredible engineering. But key here is, only if you wanted it.
5) As Brogan says, there is a difference between friendly news between friends and relatives, news that interests only a certain segment of the population, and the real news of the day. The fact that people have not figured what is happening here, including myself, is why Facebook is valued at $215 billion, when I suspect it really is not worth a tenth that. Why are car mags and car sites everywhere , as just one example. What is their success rate? If you run a website hoping to earn, you are a publisher, real or cyber. If you think you need Facebook or Google as a partner, then be happy giving them more than half, or even 90 per cent, of the sales your site generates. Otherwise, join the other publishers trying to figure out what they are doing wrong. They don't know, and so far, neither do any of the rest of us.
6) Conclusion: All of us making suggestions, and the continued hard work at Xenforo, I hope is paying off for everybody. Keep making Xenforo simple to use. Only complicated for those who want the depth of control. So sure, keep making the program deeper, but not necessary for newbies to have to figure all that out. Keep adding features. Keep making outside add-ons easier to use. You folks are doing a great job. Not much more I can say.