Chat rooms seem to gradually be falling to the wayside – a thing of the past, so to speak, as new media and marketing tactics are continuously moving in different directions. Remember the inception of America Online, and how chat rooms were literally the most entertaining things on the planet? Well, times are a-changing; creations such as podcasts, Bluetooth and social networking sites appear to be the way of the future.
In our class discussion this week, there was one sentence written by another student that caught my eye: “I think as marketers we need to avoid annoying consumers. They’ve become far too sophisticated to be talked at.” This poster also speaks of ads in chat rooms as being “visual wallpaper” that is present but rarely noticeable. In other words, we see so many ads that we just look right through them. I love this analogy, as it depicts the inundation of unwanted advertising to a tee. What, exactly, constitutes an annoying consumer though? It is our job, as marketing professionals, to work around annoyances and to break through to the consumer – to grab their attention, their minds, their hearts – and make them feel as passionate about an innovation as we do. It was the second portion of the above statement that resonated with my mind… consumers these days are beyond being “talked at”. Consumers want to be understood and catered to. When marketers utilize chat rooms, they are pushing a message – they are simply talking AT the other participants in the room.
In real time, most people do not have extra minutes in their days to spend chatting with others. Why would people want to waste their time chatting online? It is the lack of credibility of chat rooms that turns many consumers off and makes them shy away from participating. One can never be sure as to whom exactly they are chatting with.
Live Marketing Chat looks to be the beginning of a blog promoting the usage of chat rooms, and it links to the Web site Newsfly 411. This site includes information on marketing tactics and related topics, but is not quite detailed at its current stage. One feature that caught my eye was the forum to discuss marketing topics and related issues. Forums, unlike chat rooms, offer a stable place to ask questions and offer up opinions, and by stable I mean that there is a set topic that is expanded upon. So, I ask, if we’re not using chat rooms, should we use forums?
I have noticed that forums seem to be increasing features on various Web sites, since consumers can voice their views, ask questions and expand upon topics of interest. I think that the forum has potential to push new products and aide professionals as a research tool. It does need to be moderated though, so participants stay on the topic at hand and do not post inappropriate items.
At my current job, which deals with the fishing industry, I often look to a forum site called Stripers Online, which offers up locals’ opinions on current fishing conditions, which bait is hot at the moment, and which holes are offering up the biggest fish. This forum is huge, with over 800,000 posts in the main section alone and nearly a million posts in a section called “The Town Tavern”, which deals with social topics other than fishing. From those stats, it is easy to see that forums are being used quite a bit and should be considered as a marketing tool.