I was recently approached by someone who was looking for examples of company representatives that had engaged on an online forum that they didn’t own. This happens a lot, but as a friend put it, “I’ve seen too many examples to count but finding them is a real pain.”

There is a ton of value in forums, and many companies already take advantage of that value. However, others wonder how companies are doing it. To help with this, I asked around and put together a collection of solid examples.

My criteria in collecting these was pretty simple. A company representative must be engaging in an online forum that they do not own or manage. Their contribution must not be something that is simply expected. In other words, they don’t have to engage, it’s not the norm, but they chose to do so. Most importantly, they did so in a way that was accepted by the community and those who manage it.

I’m a big fan of this type of engagement. I believe in it and think that forum outreach programs are wonderful.


  • SVS (high performance audio equipment manufacturer) on AVS Forum. The company is represented by Ed Mullen, the director of technology and customer service. Mullen isn’t a random support rep, he’s a company veteran and a respected voice among audiophiles. I love when companies allow their smart people to step into forums like this. It builds so much credibility.
  • Vodafone (major telecommunications company) on MoneySavingExpert.com. This community has a program for companies, allowing them to reply directly to members of the forums. Beyond individual threads throughout the forums, there is even a very long (over 2,700 replies) “Vodafone complaints” thread that they actively monitor. As of writing, the dedicated Vodafone account has made 3,328 posts.
  • Heritage Auctions (major auction house) on Coin Talk. If you look at the representative’s profile, you’ll see that they have been a regular participant of the community – and not just someone posting when there are issues with Heritage.
  • AZ Tortoise Compound (small business) on Tortoise Forum. I wanted to include this to help illustrate that participating in forums isn’t just beneficial for big businesses. In this case, you have a niche: people with pet tortoises. This is an active forum where pet owners get together. A business that serves that niche would be smart to participate here.
  • Goal Zero (solar power company) on Woot. Woot is a daily deal site. Check the time stamps on the posts in question. The deal is posted at 12:00 AM. Goal Zero clears up an error at 12:18 AM. The first question rolls in at 12:21 AM and Goal Zero answers at 12:26 AM. They give a definitive answer on the forum, not a link. Goal Zero posts until 1:35 AM and then returns at 6:52 AM. Clearly, this was a planned effort where they had people watching the forums when the deal went live. Very smart.
  • BT (major telecommunications company) on Digital Spy. It’s definitely not uncommon for major telecoms to have a presence in forums.
  • Viber (software company) on BritishExpats.com. Viber is an instant messenger and voice over IP application for smartphones. The representative here is Ittai M.
  • ScubaBoard’s manufacturers forums. The largest online forum for scuba divers features a section where members can communicate directly with manufacturers. This doesn’t exactly fit in with my criteria explained above (as members expect responses from manufacturers here), but it is a good example of this type of program, which numerous forums have.

Thank you to Ted Sindzinski, Iain Dewar, Peter T. Davis, Josh Barraza, Martin Reed, Tom Miller and Sue John for contributing examples.

More Examples?

I’d love to hear about more examples. If you have any, please share them in the comments. It is perfectly fine if you are affiliated with the example, whether you are the company engaging in the forum or you are the forum owner. I look forward to talking about more of them in the future.