TLDR: We now have an Official Delugs Forum on Watchuseek to further grow our Delugs community, in ways that Instagram couldn't. Join us over at Watchuseek, and be a part of that community!
Instagram Got Us Here...
Since we started Delugs, Instagram has really been the social media platform that we were most active on, and for good reason. There are many watch collectors on Instagram and it is a very big watch community. As a photo/video-first platform, it facilitates the posting of watch-related content, and it also helps us to showcase our straps. It allowed us to get the word out about the brand, and reach out to watch collectors who might not have heard about Delugs. It allowed us to showcase our straps, our cases, and show people what it would be like if they were to put one of our straps on a timepiece, and just how much that could transform the watch.
Beyond an outreach channel, Instagram has also provided a platform for us to connect with fellow watch enthusiasts. We have received many comments across our posts, whether it's a comment about how a particular watch & strap pairing looks, or whether its questions about the watch or about the strap. We also receive many DMs on Instagram, whether in response to IG stories and posts that we put out, or just as a way to reach out and chat. Through Instagram, we've made many good friends along the way.
Instagram has, without a doubt, been a big part of our success, and we aren't going to change how we are doing things on Instagram. However, we think it's time to find a second home where fans and friends of Delugs can hang out. Here's why.
...But We Need Another Place to Build Up Our Delugs Community.
For a while now, we've been looking for a place to build up our Delugs community. A place where you can ask for suggestions or recommendations for strap pairings from other owners who have the same watch. A place where we can chat with our customers about existing products, or get some feedback on new products that we are about to release. A place where you can have sustained conversations with fellow collectors, and where these conversations live on for other people to stumble upon months later, and to continue the conversation.
"Don't you already have a community on Instagram?" Yes, it is kind of a community, but it isn't quite able to achieve what we hope a thriving Delugs community would be. There are some limitations with Instagram that does not facilitate us building up such a community, and a forum like Watchuseek will perfectly cover these limitations.
Facilitating Many-to-Many Conversations
First, while Instagram is great for outreach, it isn't great for hosting conversations amongst a group of people. In many ways, Instagram is really more of a broadcast channel and it doesn't facilitate many-to-many conversations.
When we make a post on Instagram, we are talking to other Instagram users who happen to see the post (one-to-many). When you respond to our Instagram story to ask a question or make a comment, we are having a direct conversation (one-to-one).
However, there's no real way of having many-to-many conversations on Instagram - you cannot easily talk to everyone else who may be interested in the same strap or case that you are. Yes, when we make a post, you may leave a comment and have an extended conversation with someone within that comment thread. However, you are ultimately still restricted in the topic based on what we posted. For example, if you want to ask for feedback about our Light Grey Nubuck strap, but we didn't make a post on that, you cannot naturally ask for feedback from other customers.
A forum, on the other hand, is perfect for facilitating many-to-many conversations. You can easily jump in on any thread that's already present, join the conversation and everyone will see it / be notified (as the thread will be bumped to the top).
You can even create a new thread within our dedicated forum, without needing any approval, and everyone in that forum can see what you have posted, and join in the conversation. For example, if you wanted to get examples of our straps on an Omega Seamaster, you can now create a thread asking for photos of this!
Lifespan of a Post
Second, Instagram posts and stories have a short lifespan, which means it isn't effective as a platform for long lasting conversations. A large majority of everything you see on the feed is likely to have been posted within the last 24 hours. Almost nothing is shown after a week, except for posts that have gone viral. Even if you leave a comment on an old post, it will not "bump" up that post for others to see - only people who are tagged on that post will get a notification of your comment.
This means that it is difficult to sustain a conversation that you might be having with others. You may leave a comment on a post, and someone else may reply to that. But after one day, the post and the comment thread would have been relegated and lost to the Instagram void. If you come back to the post after a few days, you're also not likely to reply, because no one else is looking at the post.
With a dedicated forum on Watchuseek, Delugs-related threads are all kept in one place, so it doesn't get lost in a sea of watch threads. And whenever someone posts a new reply to a thread, that thread immediately gets bumped to the top.
Forum threads have an incredibly long lifespan, for as long as someone makes a new post, the entire thread is "revived" for all to see and contribute, and jump right into the conversation!
Social Media platforms such as Instagram all have some form of algorithm built-in, such that you don't see all the posts that may have been made by your followers. In theory this is great, because it helps you to filter through the noise. But who defines what is noise? Just because an Instagram post doesn't have a great photo or video doesn't mean that it is any less worthy. At its core, Instagram is a visual-driven platform, which means that if you don't have visuals, it's much harder for your content to be shown to others.
Forums are much more democratic in nature. Anyone can start a thread, and it'll immediately appear at the top of the page for all to see. There's no algorithm to worry about, no need to be concerned about whether your photo is catchy enough for people to like the post. If the thread isn't interesting and not getting any engagement, it will just naturally get bumped off the page over time, as other threads take its place.
Online Searchability and Organisation
Instagram posts just don't work well with Google, and people who may want to search for a specific topic via Google will not be able to easily find what we have posted on Instagram. There's also no easy way to organise your posts on Instagram, beyond hashtags which are fast becoming irrelevant.
A forum thread is the opposite. If you're searching on Google for something very specific, chances are that a forum thread or post is the top search result, because others might have had the same query that you did and made a thread about it. We can also create sub-forums within the main forum, sorted by topics to allow for ease of viewing.
Being able to easily find past conversations will allow you to look through what others have already said, and you can continue on the conversation without creating a new thread (linked to the above idea on lifespan).
Quality of Conversations
Because of the above factors, Instagram just isn't the right platform to facilitate having high-quality conversations amongst collectors. Even with a detailed, well-thought out caption on the post that provides a lot of value, it may not get shown to all of your followers if it doesn't have a catchy photo or reel to go along. Comments are often reduced to heart-shaped or fire emojis. There's little incentive for people to post thoughtful replies, knowing that the comment has a shelf life of just one day, and few people will see it because of the algorithm.
On the other hand, people visit forums with a certain mindset towards the content. They expect to see long discussions about a specific topic, complete with photos, videos, and paragraphs of debate. They are happy to contribute to the thread, knowing that they are value-adding to all others who may visit the thread and see their post, even if its months or years later.
Finally, Instagram is just getting too unpredictable these days. From frequent changes to algorithm, types of content being shown (reels prioritised over photos), and worse of all, bans and suspensions with no warning or means of recourse, it is just too unpredictable. As a business, this unpredictability is terrible, and we need to diversify in terms of where we can reach out to our existing customers.
The basic structure of a forum hasn't changed in decades, and everyone knows what to expect when you visit a forum. While that can mean it is outdated or stale, given how much social media and technology has advanced in the past few years, the fact is that forums are still very much active, and the perfect place for in-depth discussions.
Other Platforms That We Considered
Apart from Watchuseek, we did consider setting up other types of channels / finding other platforms, such as a Facebook Group, Telegram / Discord chat, or creating a dedicated r/Delugs Subreddit. While they all brought something to the table in terms of building a community, ultimately we felt that Watchuseek had the best blend of everything. That's not to say that we won't ever start something on these other channels, it's just not our focus at this moment.
Here's our thought process on each one of them:
Facebook groups are incredibly popular, and many watch-related groups have tens of thousands of members on them. While Facebook Groups do a better job at promoting quality conversations since the focus isn't always just on visuals, and anyone can create a post and have a conversation with others, many of the issues such as lifespan, searchability & organisation, visibility and platform stability are not very different from Instagram.
In addition, many people only have just one personal Facebook account, and they may not want to publicly disclose their personal details in a watch-related group, where they may post pictures of their watch collection, for security-related reasons.
Telegram / Discord Chat
Creating a chat group was a suggestion that came up quite often as we asked for suggestions. These chats are usually free-flowing, with lower barrier to participate, which helps in getting a lot of responses and discussions going. Indeed, a chat is often an integral part of building a community, and something that we were seriously considering.
However, chats are often a little too unstructured and informal for our needs at this point. If we were considering creating a Delugs Watch Club, a place for fellow watch enthusiasts of similar tastes to hang out, a chat might be a better platform. But we wanted a place for high quality discussions and conversations, that had a longer lifespan and was not temporal in nature, and chats wouldn't be appropriate for that.
Reddit (r/Delugs Subreddit)
Apart from an Official Forum on Watchuseek, we also considered creating a r/Delugs Subreddit. This would be very similar to a Watchuseek forum, in that it's a dedicated space just for Delugs-related content, and bring about many of the perks that we were looking for in a forum.
It would also likely have a higher participation rate, as there was a dedicated Reddit app. Users of Reddit would spend more time on the app to get updates on all the subs that they were interested in, not just from r/Delugs, and in the process see and participate more actively in r/Delugs too.
However, our main issue with Reddit was that it didn't function like a traditional blog and was more akin to a social media platform. The lifespan of a post is much shorter than a forum, and you couldn't "bump" up posts. Eventually, posts will still get lost and archived, and people would have to create new threads, starting new discussions, even though the same discussion and questions would have already been asked.
Downsides of Watchuseek
We know that Watchuseek isn't the perfect place to create a community either, most of all because of the typically low participation rate on forums, caused by the following factors:
Visiting Watchuseek Is Not Part of a Routine
Unlike visiting Instagram, or checking Facebook, it isn't natural for people to visit Watchuseek forum regularly. Most people wouldn't visit the forum as part of a routine or habit that you have formed over years of using a smartphone. You would have to be prompted by something, to make you want to visit the forum.
And without a dedicated Watchuseek forum app, you have to go through your web browser, find our Official Forum amidst the sea of other forums, before you can even see the content within - more friction in the process.
Need to Create an Account
In order to participate in the conversation, you would need to sign up with a Watchuseek account, and it just becomes one more thing that you need to create and manage. For most people, that's an immediate turn-off, especially since the account is just to view the Watchuseek forum.
Keeping the Forum Active Requires A Lot of Effort
A lot of effort is needed to keep the forum active - we first need a critical mass of people that's active, and have new threads and posts so that people find value in the content within the forum, and would remain interested and coming back to visit the forum.
And it's a cycle that feeds off itself. If the forum is dead / without activity, no one will want to be there. But at the same, if it's a thriving community, that will naturally keep people engaged and participating.
Join Us as We Discover and Learn
We have no idea how our Watchuseek Official Forum will turn out. We will put in the effort and work needed to get it up and running, with new content and new discussion threads. We'll provide incentives to bring people over to the forum, especially in the early days, because we believe in the value of having such a space for the Delugs community to hang out.
The start is the toughest, but we'll stick through it and do our best to get enough traction for the forum. Eventually, we hope that enough people will see the value of the forum, and want to be an active part of the community and contributing, that it becomes a self-sustaining community.
So come along! Join us over at the Delugs Forum, read some of the threads, create an account and contribute with some thoughts, and maybe you'll find a few like-minded people within the community that have a common interest in watches and straps!