There have been a few stabs here and there at trying online discussion forums on digital signage and DOOH, and I think it’s is entirely fair to say none of them have caught on.
There are a few things that stall them …
- They look like ghost towns when people come across these forums in their early days, so the forums don’t look worth investing time in. This one has been around a long time and, surprisingly, seems to have a lot of sponsors. But little activity.
- They get co-opted by a few moronic sales guys for vendors, who use any opportunity they can to pitch. The Linked In discussion forums would seem to have great possibilities, but there are way too many of them and they are usually infested with pitchmen and recruiters.
- We’re too busy to spend quality time in forums.
That stated, there is value in these things if managed well, promoted, and the hucksters and time-wasters blocked.
Eric Himes is the Director of Digital Media Services at Marshall University in West Virginia, and he was in Las Vegas last week for Kioskcom and its Customer Engagement Summit run the day before by Paul Flanigan of Preset and retail consultant Janet Webster. He started thinking about creating a discussion forum when he looked around the room at the summit and “realized that there was a room full of people looking for answers to some common questions, and they felt comfortable getting the answers from their peers.”
The Digital Screen Media User Group was created to support the Digital Signage, DOOH, Kiosk and Self Service, Mobile and Social Networking industries as related to the digital screen. It is intended to be a place to come and ask questions and advice of fellow deployers. Everything from planning, roadmap, lifecycle, technology decisions, channel integration, customer engagement, business models, return on investment. The goal is to not make this a vendor specific discussion group, even though we may have some vendors, but a user community to get answers, he says.
The goal is to focus this group on the deployers and their issues, questions, and pain points. To provide a place where deployers feel comfortable asking questions of each other at the same time providing resources for them to do their own research. Also, I would hope to get some industry professionals in the group as experts. The resources page points to many vendor sponsored webinars and pages with much more information. The Social/news page is RSS and Twitter feeds to help keep us current on the top headlines and trends.
The events page is like anyone else’s event calendar providing schedules of webinars and conferences. My immediate hope is to get the word out and gauge the interest.
Himes says he looked at Linked In and agreed it is a swamp, so new member activity will be watched and moderated.
He runs a department charged with all video production, streaming services, media services and digital signage for the 15,000 student school.
We deployed our signage in August of 2009 after 2 years of planning. After some tests and trials, they settled on Four Winds Interactive for the platform, with 10 screens up and another eight coming this summer, four of those interactive. We also intend to extend the signs to our IT controlled computer labs as screensavers.
It’s a tough task building up activity in a discussion forum, but done right and carefully managed it could have legs. As a consultant I’m a happy guy when people ring me up and pay for my advice, but there’s a vast throng of companies and individuals who won’t have the budget or need for that level of services and could just benefit from looking up a few discussion threads and bouncing some ideas off of people who won’t turn around and pitch at them.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.