Chapter 7. Forums, Wikis, and Your Targeted Audience

As millions of people use the Web for doing detailed research on products and services, getting involved in political campaigns, joining music and film fan clubs, and reviewing and discussing hobbies and passions, they congregate in all kinds of online places. The technologies go by various names but all include a way for people to express opinions online: chat rooms and message boards (places where people meet and discuss topics online), list serves (similar to a chat room but with messages going out by e-mail to members who have registered), wikis (a Web site that anybody can update), and blogs that have an active community of people who provide comments to blog posts written by the blog author. At specialty sites of all kinds, like-minded hobbyists, professionals, fans, and supporters meet and discuss the intricate nuances of subjects that interest them.

Interactive forums like these were once seen as insignificant backwaters by PR and marketing people—not worth the time to even monitor, let alone participate in. I've heard many marketers dismiss online forums with disdain, saying things like, "Why should I worry about a bunch of geeks obsessively typing away in the dead of night?" However, as many marketers have learned, ignoring forums can be hazardous to your brand, while participating as a member reaps rewards.

On October 31, 2005, in a post on his blog[65] called "Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management [DRM] Gone Too ...

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