Basic etiquette and tips on how to master forum marketing . . .
Word of mouth and business networking are at the core of the forum marketing. Forum marketing is a form of promoting one’s self or business through free or paid online forums. It is not a quick advertising method, in that results may take weeks or months to start showing. Also, it needs lots of time and patience and is therefore best suited to those seeking to build a brand rather than increase immediate sales.
Most websites have a community forum for users to share their thoughts and opinions. There are also specific websites that are exclusive forums dedicated to a niche market. Hence there may be industry, gender, age or interest specific forums.
Where forums gain marketing importance is that most internet users research purchase decisions online before actually buying the product. For instance, someone looking to buy a LCD TV would get unbiased reviews from a techie belonging to an electronics forum.
By their very nature, forums are meant to be a community helping space and not a marketing device. As such, most forums frown upon and ban any user who actively promotes himself. There are very strict rules that are clearly outlined in posting guidelines and one should abide by them. Most forums do however allow you to back-link to your website via the signature field.
The best way to gain clout in any forum is to become an active community member. Start by introducing yourself, then try to solve others queries without vested interest and occasionally raise a debate yourself to interact with other members. With time, you become an opinion leader of sorts and then your recommendations are worth more than marketing gold.
Of course, this is a long term relationship. If you cannot commit long hours to such work, it is best to join only a few select forums that will give you bang for buck. Start with forums that revolve around your own industry and then expand to more general forums once you’ve got the hang of it.
You may also consider hiring a professional writer to better articulate your thoughts and expand your forum presence. There are also many online tools that will allow multiple posting simultaneously. But again this shows in the quality of your post content. Nothing can beat active involvement where you read the previous posts and then add in your comments.
Forums are also a great way to test an opinion / new idea/ product by way of a poll. Again, be transparent that the poll is for your own product and most of your forum friends would be glad to help. If you become a well respected forum member chances that other members will recommend your product or service to a newbie seeking advice is very high – and very valuable!
In the end, give forums time. It is nothing but word of mouth in an online age. The neighbourhood store never got famous in a day and chances are your efforts too will pay off when you keep at it persistently.