IT in the Ad Biz

Apr 23 2008   8:29PM GMT

IT Discussion Boards

JohnWilder John Wilder Profile: JohnWilder

You would think this one would be a no-brainer for those of us in Advertising. So much of Web 2.0 seems to be geared towards advertising, it just seems like everybody in this business should be experts and well-versed in everything which makes up Web 2.0. On the contrary, I am often amazed at how slowly we seem to adopt some of this stuff. Case in point, a committee consisting of IT personnel from various Agencies engaged in a discussion last week regarding Mac file problems on Windows-based file servers. How do you think this discussion took place? On an internet discussion board? Nope – All the questions and suggestions showed up in my e-mail inbox.

The biggest problem in holding a discussion using e-mail is that the messages eventually get deleted. All of the good suggestions/answers are lost forever. The reason the group uses e-mail is because discussion boards have failed miserably. Questions often go unanswered completely, or solicit very little feedback. When the same question is posed via e-mail to the group, 13 replies show up within a few short hours. E-mail works for us. Previous attempts at a discussion board have failed, so we continue to use the method that works for us.

I’m not sure exactly what the problem is. Perhaps we simply don’t have critical mass in terms of users. This is a fairly tightly defined niche in the IT world, and we may just not be large enough to get an active discussion board off the ground. Maybe we’re not casting a wide enough net in terms of attracting membership to such a board. The two attempts I’m aware of involve the AAAAs, and the Advantage (an Advertising specific accounting package) User’s Group. Both are fairly large groups, but neither is close to covering everybody in the Advertising business, which results in a membership base that may not be quite large enough. Is there a critical mass required of message boards before they become truly active and useful?

Perhaps we haven’t utilized the correct tools for building our discussion board. I know that one of the keys for driving traffic to our own internal SharePoint site is the user alerts. If we encouraged participants to setup and manage e-mail alerts on an Ad Agency IT Forum, then new posts (or a daily summary) would still show up in our e-mail inbox. A board capable of providing RSS feeds could also help for people choosing to keep updated via that mechanism.

If anyone has an answer to this one, I’d love to hear it. Hey, at least I’m not sending you an e-mail asking for the answer.

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