Automotive forums play an increasing role in the distribution of information for hobbyists, but how often are enthusiasts visiting these forums?

Over half of enthusiasts surveyed said they visit forums at least once a week. Going mainly for sources of discussion about their hobby, events and product information, respondents could not isolate specific sites that are visited universally. While forums present the opportunity to offer vehicle- or topic-specific focus, they present a hurdle of complexity. The volume of sites can be difficult to assess and estimating relevant traffic is even more difficult.

From the survey, compact-performance enthusiasts tend to be the most involved, with more than 61.9% of participants visiting favorite sites every week. In SPC-sponsored (Formerly, SCC) Focus Panels, SEMA members have learned that consumers spend multiple hours each day online, some amassing four to five hours in front of the screen. A substantial source of that time is spent browsing and contributing to automotive forums. Additionally, their involvement is not limited to single forums, but rather a short list of related sites. Other market segments are similarly involved. Half of musclecar and street-rod enthusiasts visit forums each week.

Each site is home to a unique tone and environment for discussion. Some lean heavily on technology and DIY content, while others break off on tangents or focus attention to the automotive lifestyle. Nevertheless, the complex web of automotive forums represents an interconnected network for information dissemination. One recent phenomenon displayed the latent force of this tool.

On August 10, a member of posted a forum thread warning others about an apparent scam. Within three days, the topic surpassed 260,000 views and was linked to various other sites. This type of occurrence was the result of active forum participation and illustrates the significance of this media.

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