Many people don’t understand the difference between blog and forum.

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That’s because there are so many medias of expression on the internet, that people often get confused about which is which.

In this age of the internet, self-expression through digital means has become the norm. Nowadays, people can share whatever they want, in whichever way they want, on the internet. In the past, however, people had to climb a steep learning curve that involved making their own website to hold content that they wanted to share. These days, two formats are arguably the most popular: the blog and the forum.

Both blogs and forums are wonderful tools for online communication; however, and the difference between them lies in how you want to communicate your message and what kind of response you want.

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Blog

A blog is a one-to-many communication platform since it can only be created and run by a few moderators, admins, or authorized authors. Blogs are created to let the admin communicate what’s on their mind to users who read and follow their blogs.

Most blogs come with a feedback option in the form of a comment section, but these are not necessary to understand the blog post. The options in the comment section are quite limited since the focus is on the author’s content.

Blogs can help establish authors as experts in a given niche and can help them connect with like-minded people. As a blog gains more and more subscribers, bloggers gain more and more influence.

Key Features of a Blog

There are several features that are exclusive to blogs:

  • Limited Posting Rights: Only group admins or authorized authors can create and post blog posts. Visitors are only limited to seeing the content that the group admins have made. They cannot add their own content. However, group members may be able to comment on these posts if the admin allows it.
  • One Blog Tab: Since the blog is the exclusive space of the group admin, a website or group can only have a single blog.
  • Chronological Comments: The comment section of the blog is, by design, in chronological order and does not work well for back-and-forth discussion. This is because the blog post is supposed to be the focus, not the comments.

Forms of Blogs

In the blogosphere, bloggers try to reach different goals through their blogs. Identifying the type of blogs you want to create can help you decide which form your blog should take.

Personal Blogs

When blogs first surfaced in the late 1990s, they were in the form of online diaries. They were created by people who wanted to recount their experiences and share their thoughts with readers.

Personal bloggers do not need to follow any rules or follow certain themes. Initially, anyone who wanted to blog had to create their own website. However, these days, the process has gotten much simpler thanks to blogging platforms like WordPress, Tumblr, and Blogger, etc. where you can create a blog in a matter of minutes.

Personal blogs can contain anything to everything. Some focus on things like a personal hobby, like traveling or food, while others focus on topics their authors are passionate about, like a humanitarian crisis. Many personal blogs do not follow a strict theme, and their bloggers can write about whatever is in their mind at the time of writing.

The secret to a personal blog’s success is finding others to share their writing. This can be done by finding other bloggers who share the same interest and then commenting on their blogs or befriending them on social media. As your online interactions grow with these bloggers, they will start to engage with you.

Business Blogs

Business blogs are created to market the offerings of a business and to ensure that the business has more visibility, traffic, and customers. Unlike a personal blog, the writing is not focused on bloggers, but on the company and the industry in which it operates.

A business blog involves content that will attract relevant, quality customers to their site. For example, employees of a content marketing company will create blogs that will cover topics like “X Secrets to Ranking #1 On Google” and “Top Strategies on How to Get More Social Media Likes.”

A business blog becomes successful when it attracts readers that will subscribe to their email list, make a purchase, or perform any other related activity that can result in lead generation for a business. For a business blog to be successful, you need to carry out research to find potential customers that are most likely to turn into buying customers. Hence business blogs ensure that each piece of content encourages people to learn more about their products and services.

Professional Blogs

Although most people start blogging just to share their thoughts and connect with like-minded people, some people go the extra mile and try to monetize their blog. In other words, they use their blog to earn an income.

Professional bloggers use a wide variety of tricks to make money from their blog, including displaying native ads, participating in affiliate marketing, creating digital products, and selling their own products online, among others.

Professional blogs generally tend to focus on a single niche to generate revenue. However, the success of a professional blog depends on it, attracting a large volume of traffic and being a good match for its advertisers.

For example, a professional beauty blog should be able to attract advertisers from major cosmetic companies. Additionally, they can also generate revenue by creating online makeup tutorials or becoming affiliates for other blogs offering beauty courses.

Niche Blogs

As the name implies, niche blogs focus on specific topics instead of broad ones. Some examples of niche blogs include food blogs, doggy blogs, home décor blogs, and mom blogs.

Niche blogs are great for people who want to focus on a single topic without having to do too much research. When you have a niche blog, it is best to write about things you know best or have more experience with. Therefore, passion is extremely important when you are working on a niche blog.

By choosing your niche and having your own point of view, you can stand out from similar blogs. On the other hand, your niche shouldn’t be so small that it becomes difficult to attract a good amount of traffic.

Reverse / Guest Blogs

Reverse blogs, also known as guest blogs, are a relatively new type of blog. Instead of the owner of the blog creating the content, the blog posts are supplied by outsiders. A reverse blog has a team of moderators who review the content submitted before posting it, prevent conflict between members and users, and promote greater interaction through users with their topic choices.

Even though most of the posts belong to guest writers, owners also create some of their own posts. To make your guest blog successful, you should attract experienced writers who have a good reputation online. They can help you promote your content by sharing it with their social networks.

Affiliate / Review Blogs

Affiliate blogs allow you to generate commissions through affiliate marketing. Instead of basing their content on their own offerings, they create blog posts that review other products and services. The aim of an affiliate blog is to encourage your website visitors to purchase your affiliate’s offerings using an affiliate link. This allows the blogger to earn a commission. Sometimes, visitors are further incentivized to click on the link by discounts provided by the affiliate.

Affiliate bloggers usually write reviews of their affiliate products. Some write reviews of all kinds of products on their website, while others create different blogs for promoting each different type of product. Therefore, SEO is an essential part of review blogging.

An affiliate blog aims to attract readers who will not just read the product review but will also purchase the products through the affiliate link. They also strive to create email lists — which is often an affiliate marketer’s main source of revenue — to promote affiliate product launches to their subscribers.

Media Blogs

Media blogs are not one type of blog, but several types of blogs that are defined by the type of content they produce. For example, a blog that produces videos is called a vlog, while one that showcases images and arts is called a photo or art blog. If you have a blog that curates external links from other sites, you have a linklog.

Media blogs typically require bigger storage space since the media-rich files are much bigger. For a media blog to be successful, the owner should choose the right platform that would fit their needs.

Forums

The Gaia Online Discussion Forum

Unlike blogs, forums are many-to-many communication platforms that allow every group member to contribute in an ongoing discussion, rather than only a select few authorized authors. All people can join forums to exchange their views on a particular topic

Forums were once also known as “bulletin boards” because of their format. Each user can place their comment in a “thread” that they want to discuss. The thread can be a conversation that can last for a very long time for popular topics, even several years.

Forums are usually based on niche industries so that like-minded people can join and discuss them. Some popular types of forums involve gaming, technology, and writing.

Like blogs, forums also have moderators who prevent banned or unrelated content discussions, ensure members follow forum rules, and keep the peace, especially since heated arguments often lead to flame wars.

Although on the same niche topics, forums host several categories of discussions. All discussions are reviewed by administrators; however, any member can start a discussion topic if they want.

Key Features of a Forum

In some regards, forum posts are similar to comments at the end of the blog, though they have a whole host of features:

Permissive Posting: One of the best things about forums is that all group members can post to it. Plus, the identity of the creator of the post is more visible in forums than it is on a blog comment.

Private Messaging: Members also have the option to post a private message to another member or admin in the forum. This way, the messages are only visible to the poster and the person they are posting to.

Multiple Discussion Topics: Group administrators can create as many forum categories and topics that they want at a time. All members can join and post comments in them.

Threaded Replies: Unlike comments, which only allow you to reply in chronological order, threaded replies enable forum members to respond to one another in nested subtopics. This way, if a person joins a forum with ten posts and they want to reply to comment 3, they can do so, and their comment will appear directly under comment 3, rather than down under seven more posts.

This encourages better dialogue and response, which is suitable for a more complex conversation.

Forms of Forums

Like blogs, there are several different types of forums. The most popular of them are described below:

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are the standard forms that offer lively discussions on various topics. These are perfect for creating online communities of like-minded people from diverse backgrounds who want to discuss their topics of interest online. These forums cover a wide variety of topics, including health, sports, gaming, computer tech, entertainment, finance, and writing.

The best discussion forums allow you to seed in new topics easily in order to keep the conversation going. In order for you to become a part of the community, most forums would require you to register yourself with a login ID and a password.  

Discussion boards are usually niche-based and have certain rules that discourage inappropriate language. You can also be banned if you abuse forum rules.

Feedback Forums

A feedback forum is a space where constructive communication and collaboration take place to improve thought and work processes. These forums are usually custom-made for companies who want people to give them their opinions.

Feedback forums are great if your aim is to enhance user or customer experience and improve your company’s offerings. It is a great place to interact and engage with customers when you are in the process of creating new products and services or thinking of taking on new initiatives.

In the age of social media, feedback forums work best if they allow people to participate in polls, like comments, vote on forum posts, and push popular posts to the top of the thread.

Question and Answer Forums

Open source forums like question and answer forums are on the rise since sharing resources has become a highly important aspect of a community. In the Q&A forums, the community admin offers customer support or replies to users’ queries.

However, if you want a low overhead cost, you can consider a Q&A forum where the answers and solutions to questions are provided by the members themselves, rather than the community management. The interior design company, Houzz, offers this kind of forum to its customers. The company asks customers to post pictures of their home décor issues and encourages other members to provide solutions.

These types of forums can go a long way in increasing a company’s brand awareness and loyalty.

Knowledge Base / Article Forums

Knowledge base or article forums differ from discussion forums in that they provide you with a database of information. With the huge number of internet entries, it can be difficult to understand which sources are authentic. Knowledge bases offer you a go-to place for answers; an added advantage is that knowledge bases are often populated by experts in the field.

These forums also post DIY, how-to articles, images, videos, blogs, white papers, and announcements. These can be particularly helpful for people looking for a detailed answer to a question.

The best knowledge base forums have a robust and advanced search feature that can help users pinpoint the exact thing they are looking for across different forums.

The Main Difference Between a Blog and Forum

The main difference between a blog and a forum is the communication style.

Both blogs and forums are wonderful online tools for communication; however, they are used for different purposes.

Most of the time, the interaction between a blog post author and reader is not in real-time. Most comments are reviewed for inappropriate content, which means they may be delayed in getting published. The author can simply also choose not to show them.

Most forums, however, work in real-time. If you add a comment to a post, they usually become instantly visible to the public. However, the moderator may delete it if it’s against the community’s rules.

Another difference is the level of open participation. Blogs allow only authorized people to post content. Readers can only offer their feedback or ask questions through the comment section if it is enabled. However, forums are open to all. Anyone can post a topic and participate in a more or less equal level.

Before you choose one over the other, find out what type of people you are trying to connect to, where you can find them, and what your goals are. This is essential to your blog or forum’s success.

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