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Photo by Hunter Haley on Unsplash

There are so many different ways to have a conversation online.

And there are so many tools you can use for the job.

But just as your toolbox has a hammer, a screwdriver, and wrench, your community/engagement toolbox needs more than one tool.

Who's Talking?

Both blogs and forums can be great for starting discussion. The key difference lies in who starts the conversation.

With a blog, the blog's author generally decides the subject(s) they will cover with their recurring content.


With a forum, the community owner generally decides the structure and organization (how many forums, what are they called, who's allowed to post), but the community members can start their own new topics/conversations.


Key Differences Between a Blog and a Forum

Here are some of the other ways that blogs and forums differ:

  • Privacy - blogs are usually public, while forums are often private or restricted-access.
  • Length of content - there is some expectation that blog posts will be longer and richer than forum topics (although you can usually include media in either).
  • Comments - blog posts don't always allow comments (famously, Seth Godin), while forum topics are always a two way conversation.
  • Personality - blogs tend to take on the tone and personality of the primary author. Forums take on a personality of their own, a mosaic of the personalities of the most active members.

Reasons You Might Want a Blog

  • You want to focus on a small set of topics that you control.
  • You want to have a small group of authors (or a single author).
  • You want to become known as a thought leader; your content is being syndicated.

Reasons You Might Want a Forum

  • You want to allow the ideas of the community to surface easily.
  • You have a wide variety of topics.
  • You want to provide customer support.

Reasons You Might Want Both

  • You have a large, active member base.
  • You have both established authors and a large community.
  • You want to provide original content and support on the same site.
  • Your community members are requesting both features.

If you're managing a community that encompasses both blogging and forums, make sure there is a clear purpose for the two types of content. 

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