Recently, Jason Falls shared an interesting fact with me. According to his research, collected through NetBase, 90% of the trackable conversations occurring online around banks and bank products were in online forums. Ninety percent!

5% related to consumer reviews, 3% on blogs and less than 1% in each of the four categories: microblogs (that’s Twitter), social networks, comments sections of some form and the all-powerful “other.”

Furthermore, it’s not just banks. In a companion piece for Entrepreneur Magazine, where I was quoted, Jason said that he checked how forums stacked up against other industries, to see if banking was a fluke. It wasn’t. Forums were #1 or #2 for every sector they analyzed.

He was conducting this research for a new “Social Media in Banking” industry report that he plans to release. In it, he’ll discuss what people are saying online about that industry and help banking companies to make sense of it.

I was surprised by the 90% figure. I wouldn’t have been surprised by forums being #1, but I also wouldn’t have guessed it would be by that much. But, it makes sense, when you consider that, generally speaking, online forums are where the deepest, most engaging conversation is had online.

As Jason pointed out, it seems like only a relatively small minority of brands seriously include forums in their social media strategies. In order to help that along, I penned a guest post for Jason titled “How to Engage in Online Forums for Your Brand.”

It is a detailed guide to how brand representatives can derive business value from engaging in an online forum, while also respecting the community. I’m not saying everyone needs to be present on forums. But, clearly, if forums are leading the way for conversation in your industry, they are worthy of your consideration as a strategic option, right alongside Facebook and Twitter. Don’t sleep on forums.