The interactive nature of the internet is what sets it apart from other means of communication, advertising, and business. You give and receive content continuously, never stopping the cycle of the two-way internet street. By hosting a forum where your customers, guests, and everyone can communicate with you and with each other about your business and related topics, you'll do many things for your business. First, you'll get information out there about what your company offers and what your website does. Also, you'll be able to get referrals to your website, which will increase your business's traffic and sales (significantly if your forum is well accessed).
By having a moderated forum, you'll enable people to share their input, become customers and enable customers to become repeat customers, forming lifelong relationships with your business that might not have otherwise been possible. There are some complications and things to consider before starting a forum, though. For all the good that it can do, some forums can become battlegrounds or bad places to be, where all people do is complain and argue. By being a good moderator, you should be able to curb these discussions and disagreements, but if you're too good, you could chase away business because people feel like they can't even have a healthy debate.
Forum posting is open to the public in most cases, but you can change this. There are a lot of ignorant people out there who will post on open forums just to put in their two cents, when their opinion isn't really relevant at all. By creating a sign up page, you can guarantee that these people won't waste the time signing up to post in your forum unless they truly have valuable or relevant input to add to the discussion. While it may drive away a few potential customers, it will also keep out the idiots who feel like they have to have an opinion whether they actually have one or not.
There are all kinds of negatives and positives that come with forum ownership and moderation, but hosting a forum can help your business as long as it is done properly. You should get assistance from someone with experience, or you can even hire a moderator who is familiar with forum moderation to do the work for you. You can set up your website with a forum on it, or you can use a public site with free forum sign up to create your business forum. No matter what you do, you should always look into the process of setting up and maintaining a forum before you jump in unprepared.
There will also be plenty for you to consider, such as what methods you'll use, what rules you'll employ, if any, and how you'll allow people to post (public or by sign up only). These choices will all have to be made on your own, so research is essential. No matter what you choose, the use of a forum can help your business grow extensively.