Stirring the Open Forum Pot

Author and social media aficionado, Howard Rheingold, has been involved with the "virtual community" for years. He seems to be happy to share tips on "how to thrive online." Sure, anyone could pop into an open forum on the internet and create an online stir with just about any inflammatory remark, but Mr. Rheingold's aim is to teach people how to not only interact with social media intelligently, but also mindfully. Instead of just consuming the digital media we see online today, why not become an active participant, and create an online stir that inspires people to join in?

We all know the key reason that open forums on the internet have gotten a bad rap in the past: pointless, off-topic and often crude input from individuals who were less interested in making a contribution as much as they were interested in making an entrance. Social platforms can be powerful places for intelligent people to discuss passions and key issues. As the online discussion format has successfully connected people across the globe, cultural creativity and often humor are introduced into these exchanges, making them some of the most entertaining and inspiring ones you may encounter in your social lifetime.

The global community you live in has a lot to say. With so many hot-button topics in the news and in politics, creating an online stir is not so difficult. The trick is to do so productively. An online stir does not necessarily have to be controversial, either.

One of the most recent flutters of activity around a headline was related to Tesla and the vehicle fires that had been occurring. That surely created an online stir among not only Tesla customers, but also between supporters and opponents of the electric car. This may or may not be considered a controversial topic, but it definitely is one that taps into peoples' passions, which is key to igniting interactive discussions. Thanks to the intelligent use of social media by Tesla, the surge of online activity that could have dinged their reputation quite a bit, evolved into well-managed, real-time commentary about the topic. The company used these online interfaces to zero-in on where the issue was most insightful. They then decided to address their customer and consumer audience in a personalized and targeted manner, incorporating social discussion to calm nerves, learning more about concerns, and extinguishing short fuses that could backfire on the company and threaten its future.

Tesla's approach is a prime example of intelligent use of online media to recognize a problem, learn more about it, and address it with the help of reaching out to the user community. Two heads (or more) are always better than one when they are all focused on the same topic at hand. Collaboration is what thriving online is all about.

Kayla Olsen is a freelance writer who enjoys stirring the pot on engaging open forum sites such as

This article was published on 10 Apr 2014 and has been viewed 951 times
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