Web Forums: An Untapped Solution for Internet Marketers
These days the Internet turns every local firm into a potentially global competitor, as it erases the geographical boundaries of running business (unless you own a local bakery). Thanks to the well-thought-out online marketing strategies companies can skyrocket their sales and build strong communities using just a few social media accounts.
While there are many resources on the web educating us on how to make the most out of our Facebook, Twitter and Google+ accounts, there are just a few advocating the importance of web forums for Internet Marketing. So, in this post I’d like to discuss keys to successful forum marketing.
Join the Right Forums
Forum marketing will have a high ROI only if you find the right forums. Forum users differ a lot from your Fan Page followers. Usually, the former are net savvy and are more likely to make online purchases. Creating a forum account takes time (more than just ‘Liking’ a page), so we can assume that all forum users are genuinely interested in the topic. Thus, when joining a strong community you get access to an influential audience that can help you spread the word about your product/service far and wide. However, you should realize that this will happen only if you promote a high quality product, target the right audience and avoid common mistakes. So how does it work?
Select forums that have a big audience and many posts.
Look for forums that are updated daily.
Ignore forums that are flooded with spam.
Avoid forums moderated by your direct competitors.
Once you have narrowed down the selection, create forum accounts as soon as possible - seniority is a very important factor when it comes to forums. When creating an account check the posting guidelines. I would recommend paying attention to the following points:
Are you allowed to place links?
Are you allowed to promote your own company?
Are you allowed to add a commercial signature to your profile?
Another important step is creating a compelling profile. This implies picking a good avatar, nickname and presenting yourself to the audience. Once you have created a good profile, don’t rush to promote your biz, spend some time lurking. It also makes sense to make valuable contributions to the community before writing any promotional messages.
Create the Right Forums
If you have enough resources to build your own forum, you should definitely do this. Forums require commitment and human resources, so make sure building a forum won’t break your budget. What kind of forum to create? Actually, there are many options. The most obvious is launching a forum that will be exclusively dedicated to your business. To my mind, such forums can’t be used as a part of marketing strategy, as they’re more likely to serve as a kind of a Help Center. Another option is building a forum that will provide helpful, subject-related advice and therefore gather like-minded people and your potential customers. What’s the benefit? You’ll be able to advertise your service as a sponsor of the entire forum or a separate discussion.