An electronic bulletin board is an online communication system that allows people to share, discuss, or request information. It’s also known as a message board or computer forum and functions the same way as an email. However, these bulletin boards differ from emails in that they are public, while the latter are private. The global market for bulletin boards is growing, as they have become essential in the corporate world, schools, and sports groups. This market was worth $1.6 billion in 2019, and is still expanding. Forecasts show it’ll grow at a 7.6% CAGR between 2020 and 2027.
Some of the factors driving market growth include:
- The growing infrastructure in corporate offices
- Ease of availability of these electronic boards
- The enhancement in the educational sector infrastructure
- An increasing popularity of artificial intelligence that offers an adaptive, user-friendly, and engaging learning experience
Today, bulletin boards are part of the digital signage industry that has paved the way for communication transformation. Thousands of electronic bulletin boards populate the internet today, also known as newsgroups in large collections. Each newsgroup focuses on a single topic, such as skin defects, roof-repair, and computer languages.
How do Electronic Bulletin Boards Work?
Any person who has access to an electronic bulletin board can respond to the message they find there. However, access is only through registration, which allows a visitor to have posting privileges. Nevertheless, anyone can start a discussion on a specific topic and wait for replies from community members.
The initial posting and all its subsequent replies comprise what is known as a “thread.” It can be weeks or months before a thread ends conclusively. Long threads attract several responses that sometimes do not relate to the original post. A person who joins later in the conversation may have longer threads to unwind before getting to the original post.
Unfortunately, a question or statement may sometimes not attract any replies or comments. Where there are replies and the discussion is ongoing, bulletin boards provide an open discussion forum for issues in diverse nature.
Electronic Bulletin Board Systems
A bulletin board system (BBS) refers to a computer network that facilitates electronic communication between users. They can share data by having their computers linked through satellite links, dedicated cables, telephone lines, or other communication forms.
In most cases, BBSs use phone lines in transferring data to users through chat rooms where they can interact with each other. This is an upgrade from the previous systems that used modems in the late 1970s for connection. Modern BBS systems comprise a central computer that serves as a message store that also sends messages to callers. The computer stays permanently connected to a phone to send messages to callers. The dial-up internet system offers global access and ease of use.
For your computer to reach the central computer, there’s a need to install communications tools or software. This is responsible for controlling the transfer of information between computers. Besides, you can use public domain communication software or commercial programs.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Bulletin Boards
One of the most significant advantages of these online system boards is that they are public. This makes them easy to access, giving users a broad scope of information sources. Besides, each source has a high possibility of providing original and unique information, sometimes from a global perspective.
The message boards utilize the latest technology in both display and software. For example, in the corporate world, they play a crucial role in keeping employees updated, thus promoting effective workplace communication. It becomes easy to reach workers at their specific location and to send messages to multiple places. The bulletin boards have also made it easy to conduct web-based video training. Companies can use simple interfaces to add their content to the company bulletin board.
Setting up a digital bulletin board is not costly. With a few hundred dollars, you will have a platform where you can share unlimited notices.
Online bulletin boards help save the environment. They eliminate the use of paper printouts and help reduce the carbon footprint.
Engaging and Entertaining
Electronic bulletin boards allow you to use graphic designs for signage, rich text, animations, and colorful photos. This combination of elements makes them more engaging than paper printouts. It is also easy to update content on the boards quickly without the involvement of printers or designers.
On their downside, online system boards come with their fair share of threats. Since they are public places, they are often unedited and open to troublemakers who like controversies. They hide behind their screens to badmouth the users and the content posted. Bulletin boards also face the risk of the influx of unwanted ads or spam. As such, they require massive computer resources to monitor and weed out spam messages. The boards also lack archive features for each thread and post. This means that content can disappear with time as new posts come up.
How to Make a Digital Bulletin Board
You can create your digital bulletin board quickly and easily if you have the right tools and resources. Here’s what you need to do.
1. Choose the Appropriate Display Screen
You can choose from two main hardware options for powering your digital bulletin board, both comprising cloud storage. Cloud-based signage provides the advantage of being easy to update from anywhere.
In choosing a display screen, consider the following:
- How many devices do you want to deploy?
- Where will you place the bulletin boards?
- What type of content do you want to display?
- Will the new hardware integrate with the existing infrastructure?
Display screens are available in many types, including:
- LED screens- they are a lot more flexible in large scale settings as they provide high contrast levels and rich colors
- LCD screens- they are lightweight and most affordable but are limited in contrast and brightness levels
- OLED screens- new in the industry but offer infinite contrast, high energy-efficiency, low weight, and high resolution
In choosing your display screen, also remember to weigh between consumer and commercial displays. Commercial displays last long, have high processing power, and most of them come with a warranty.
2. Choose a Digital Signage Media Player
The media player is the central control system of your electronic bulletin board. It helps you run the system with minimal flaws. You need one media player for each display screen unless you use a video splitter to create a video wall.
Media players fall into three categories, namely:
- All-in-one solutions
Their primary difference is in the size, price, memory, storage, and processing power. Media boxes are more popular because they have more processing power, are more durable, and have larger storage capacity. Plug-and-play sticks are an inexpensive option, while all-in-one digital signage solutions are inbuilt in the display.
Knowing the goal you want to achieve with our bulletin board will help you choose the best media type.
3. Create Your Message
You can use online tools to create and share important messages on a digital bulletin board. Here are some options to consider:
- Notice – you can use it to create catchy text-based signage. The app can create a single message of several different messages for the app to rotate through. It allows you to pair your message with graphics or create personalized backgrounds for a more engaging bulletin board.
- The Events – it’s one of the simplest apps to help you broadcast information across a large audience. You can add events manually or connect the app to a calendar for automatic display.
- Google Slides – you can loop your published Google Slide presentations to your displays for automatic updates when you make changes to the document. It comes with interactive functions like notes, slide playback control, and a virtual laser pointer. Google Slides allow you to upload graphics in the form of PDF, JPEG, or PNG.
Remember to schedule your messages depending on what you want to display at a specific time. Having a tailored schedule will increase the efficiency of communication and save you time. Consider using a playlist to allow you to control the timing and length of the display. A playlist helps you cycle your messages in a loop to keep the content fresh and engaging.
Bulletin Board Systems and the Small Business Owner
Some bulletin boards are created with educational or recreational aims. However, they now have a significant role to play in business functions, activities, and occupations. Self-employed business professionals will find the boards to be valuable in solving specific problems.
Bulletin boards seem to exist for almost every topic under the sun. As such, small businesses engaged in complex fields will benefit the most from using electronic bulletin boards. Computer hardware, programming, construction issues, and wiring problems are infinite issues that can be served by knowledgeable bulletin boards.
It is, therefore, essential to discover the right BB by sampling a few threads. This will help gauge the seriousness of the participants on how they handle issues.
Small business owners can discover bulletin boards that focus on their products. On such platforms, they can establish what the market feels about the performance of the business. This can come as a pleasant or unpleasant surprise.
According to Patrick Collinson in an article in Retail Financial Strategies, businesses can follow public comments. With some special marketing software, a business can get alerts when anyone mentions it anywhere on the internet. The company can request the removal of any false or misleading information on the boards.
The way people and businesses communicate is changing. Recently, the world has seen the entrance of electronic bulletin boards that reach a wider audience. They allow people to exchange thoughts and messages, as well as share files through a central computer.
Bulletin boards are common in the educational and recreational sectors, but the corporate world is also catching up. The advantages of using them include cost- and communication-efficiency, versatility, and sustainability. Businesses that have not yet identified appropriate bulletin boards should start engaging.