Forum marketing platforms are discussion sites where people carry on conversations via posted messages. These conversations span topics including the latest news to niche categories including hobbies, professions, politics, and business ideas.
The practice of forum marketing involves interacting with users in the online forums to promote your business. For those who approach the practice wisely, there can be a high return on investment.
The easy online availability of forum marketing can be a wonderful resource for low-cost and highly effective marketing. Following these five basic forum marketing tips for forum marketing can help ensure your success.
Focus your efforts on the most appropriate online forums.
Whatever your business niche, look for forums dealing with that particular topic. In the beginning, you’ll want to concentrate on 3-5 forums on which to focus your efforts. Look for forums that have a solid membership base and good-sized, current, non-spammy post count to ensure an active audience to make your marketing efforts worthwhile.
Get familiar with each forum’s user guidelines.
You’ll want to be sure that you’re not inadvertently breaking the rules in terms of posting links, promoting your business, or overstepping any boundaries. Be respectful.
Set up a user account with each forum immediately.
In many forums, seniority translates to credibility, and an established and active user will be taken more seriously than a person who might be viewed skeptically as jumping in for the sole purpose of promotion. Choose a user name and avatar wisely remembering that other users will associate these with your brand. Include a way for other users to contact you that you don’t mind having public. Most importantly, if the forum allows you to include a signature line, make sure that you include your website URL to make it easy for other users to find out about your business.
Become a forum “lurker.”
Although the word might previously have had creepy connotations involving dark alleyways, the idea of lurking in online forums is not in the least bit sinister. Rather, it’s a mark of wisdom to spend some time watching the interactions on the forum, reading the posts and becoming familiar with the forum itself, the discussions it hosts, and some of the characters and personalities actively interacting on the forum. Get a feel for the posts, topics, and tone of interaction before stepping in to begin creating posts of your own. You’ll fit in a lot better and make your marketing within the forum much more effective.
Be a Collaborator, not a Drama Queen.
Contribute to the community. Your own posts in the forum should not be limited to your own marketing materials. Responding to posts that you have first-hand experiences with, will boost your credibility. But, don’t let yourself be drawn into other member’s controversies. Remember that there are potentially thousands of others that are reading what you post (potential customers) that might be driven away if you appear to be nothing more than an attention-seeking Drama Queen.
The key to forum marketing is to not treat it as a one-time advertisement but rather a long-term channel for spreading the word about your business.