Forum Marketing: How-To

Forum Marketing: How-To
Marketing a business through online forums is a cost effective way to grow a business quickly and make it stand apart from the crowd. The people who frequent forums and message boards on the Internet today are generally very familiar with doing business on the web and it is not unusual for the users to be experts on the specific niche topics covered by a particular forum. This means that marketing your own business, product, service or website with forum marketing is a low-cost, high potential business strategy that can get your message out quickly and help your marketing efforts exponentially.

However, as good as online forums are today, not every forum in a particular niche will be worth investing your time in and this means it can be critically important to start with the right forum community for your specific niche business or interest. You can start your search using niche-specific keywords to locate the various online communities in your field that will be worth your time. You can narrow your list of potential targets by looking for forums that have at least 1,000 members and 10,000 existing posts. A good forum should also get a minimum of at least ten to fifteen new posts daily. Obviously, you don’t want to waste your time farming leads on a forum that is overrun by spam or hosted by a direct competitor to your own specific business.

One good strategy is to create your own forum account as soon as possible because users with older registration dates are usually given more privileges and access to more features than brand new members. You want to focus on becoming a participating member of the forums you plan to use as permanent marketing channels for your business, instead of just dropping in to push your latest advertising campaign.

It is also very important to check out the user agreements and posting guidelines of the forums you are interested in because they can affect your ability to market effectively. You will need to pay particular attention to whether or not users are allowed place links in their posts to promote their own businesses. You will also need to know if users are allowed to post commercial messages or directly contact other forum members for commercial purposes.

Spend some time reading the forum in the beginning and try to resist the urge to start posting right away. Spend time reading the forum to get a sense of the community’s mentality and to determine who the most influential posters are and which specific topics generate the most interest. Many forums are tight communities and learning how a forum works up front will help you fit in more quickly and start making valuable contributions sooner. When you do make contributions, you should recognize that whenever someone posts a thread or asks a question related to your business products or services, the answers you supply are the key to successful forum marketing.   Useful answers can help demonstrate your expertise and generate trust. When you back up your advice with useful related links and respond to follow up questions quickly, the entire forum community will come to regard you as an expert in your field. Take it easy on the strong opinions and sales pitches in the beginning and the level of trust will increase to the point where people will ask for your recommendations. When you start getting direct inquiries for recommendations is the right time to bring up your own products or business without appearing overly biased.

Once you have earned the trust of the forum users you can start more aggressive marketing campaigns, but don’t fall into the trap of loading a forum with spam messages. Forum spam might increase temporary traffic to your website or business, but it can also seriously damage your reputation in the long run.   Ethical marketing practices that enhance your image will encourage far more forum users to learn more about your business than any amount of spam ever could. Starting slowly and learning all you can about your target forum before you start posting will allow you to take full advantage of the true potential and help you create a low-cost, high-yield marketing strategy that really works on the Internet today.

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