eBay says that it attracts 32m unique visits a month to its discussion boards, with 6m posts and 4.5m users a year.

Speaking at Hotwire’s digital trends briefing this morning, eBay UK’s head of corporate communications Clare Moore-Bridger said that they were an “excellent source of information on what’s important to customers”.

She discussed the resurgence of forums, which to some may seem passé, as an important information and knowledge sharing pool. Moore-Bridger referred to one example of a fashion buyer that used the forums to share their experiences, and best practice.

Apparently, the ideal time to bid is 23 seconds before the auction closes – that’s really valuable information that people respond well to.”

Moore-Bridger also said that eBay also has a newer Q&A area called ‘Answer Centre’, which also has 2.2m users a year, with 150,000 questions asked.

Much like giff gaff’s dissemination of customer service, eBay sees 95% of questions answered by members within the Answer Centre community. Every time a person asks a question, this translates to 30 views. For the discussion boards, each post equates to 90 views.

From a corporate communications perspective, I can see what’s important to our customers by looking at the forums. We’re now active in every social media channel, but forums will continue to be important as they speak to a different audience.”

She highlighted that eBay was investing heavily in blogs, but that each social channel took on a different role.

Forums cater for the very active, or as Moore-Bridger says “perhaps our most important users” – who tend be more mature. Blogs cover eBay watchers, analysts and influencers, while Facebook is consumer orientated, targeted at specific subjects like fashion or motoring.

Plus, eBay is also developing mobile avidly, with the UK at the forefront of this. 10% of sales now come from mobile, and the company is responding as such. 

Yesterday it updated its eBay Motors app to include visual search, and was on track to achieve $5bn of sales through mobile in 2011.