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Alex Manchester

It's the focused and author-led content, ownership and, of course, personality that really makes the difference for me I think, Debbie.
(Whoever said to Ryan "...message boards are probably a better platform than a blog which is very one-sided..." is half way there in recognizing that.)

Over-zealous participants, a tendency to slide into bitchiness if left unchecked and a real splash of topics and questions are also common characteristics of message boards - corporate or otherwise. They do need a lot of moderation.

Perhaps to put the difference in context, it's a brave, confident, committed CEO/Senior exec that starts a blog because they can lead the conversation, stay on topic and focus on the issues they want/can/need to talk about. I doubt there'd be too many CEOs/Senior execs who'd partake in a message board for very long, if at all.

Would be interested to hear other people's views on this though.

John Cass

I wrote about this issue on my old Backbone Media blog at blogsurvey a while ago. To me it is a structural issue. Forums are closed communities; the members talk with one another within the forum, while blogs are open forums, which can be found by anyone on the web through search engines. That is the important difference. It is my understanding that forums can be extremely successful for companies, and in some cases do a better job of encouraging customer feedback than blogs. What forums cannot do is intersect into the community of blogs. Intuit is probably one of the best examples of a company that really knows how to use both forums and blogs. Scott Wilder from Intuit has told me that forums are great tools for Intuit for having their customer community dispense support and advice to other customers within the community. Blogs can do the same but probably not to the same extent currently, however a blog gives a company the ability to connect with a wider audience that might not even know about a company’s forum. Lastly many forums are open and also have rankings on search engines. I do not think a blog is good overall and a forum a bad idea, both technologies provide different services and roles.

Debbie Weil

John,

Thanks for additional clarification on blogs vs. message boards. You've nailed the single biggest difference, I think: in general, message or discussion boards are a "closed" community (which can be a good thing). While a blog (a public, external blog) automatically connects to the broader universe of blogs.

John Cass

Many social media sites have an element of a closed community. Within YouTube you can comment on other videos. The most successful web 2.0 sites are those that realize the advantages of a closed and open community, and allow both as YouTube does by giving people the ability to distribute their content easily.

Tom Chandler

I've been asked this question by several clients. The answer I give involves (sadly) the lowest common denominator.

A blog operates at the level of its author (wherever that might be).

Most message boards inevitably slide to the level of the people most willing to post, which can include the likes of cranks, trolls, and people simply having a bad day.

Great post!

Erin Blaskie

I couldn't agree more!

Blogs are now replacing a lot of technology that used to work well... I've actually just converted my entire site to a Wordpress site and I've seen my traffic quadruple!

I think people are realizing the value of blogging - it's a community but it's quicker. No logins, no passwords, if you don't want to read posts you don't have to go through and mark them all as read... You can just skim the information and read whatever headings appeal to you.

Great post and great blog! I'll definitely be back to read more.

Erin Blaskie

maggie fox

Great post - from my perspective, message boards are very much "talk amongst yourselves", whereas a corporate blog is "let's talk to each other".

Big difference.

tash pop

I think the major difference is that the blog is more FOCUSED. Because it has a starting point of view it encourages more people to participate.

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