forum-marketingParticipation in group forums and discussion boards is one of the easiest ways to promote and brand your company. You put your “online face” out there and interact with diverse groups of people.
By creating a strong online presence, you market yourself as an expert in your field – people will look to you for MORE information and help! Think of forum members as your potential clients and customers.
forum-marketing1Step 1 – Research forums in your industry
If you’re a real estate agent, seek out estate-specific forums and online communities. Spend time researching your niche and target markets. Where are your “potential” customers hanging out online? What are the popular online communities in your industry?
Step 2 – Create an account
Most forums are free and it’s easy to set up an account on forums. The key to promoting yourself on forums is your “call to action.” Attach a link to your site/blog with a strong call to action (you can link URLs in the profile section). Make sure to include links to your sites/blogs in your forum signature.
Step 3 – Participate and answer questions
Actively participate in the board and answer appropriate questions. Stick to your field of expertise. Keep answers short and professional. Invite forum members to your site to learn more information. Don’t provide TOO much information in your reply posts. You want to “lure” forum members to your site with just enough information. Always remember to be courteous and respectful of other members when replying to posts/answering questions.
Step 4 – Keep them coming back for MORE
Make sure that you always have compelling, VALUABLE copy on your site. You want visitors to register for more updates and want them to check out your site on a regular basis. It won’t help to “hook” them and reel them to your site if you don’t have compelling information that doesn’t interest them.
Forum Marketing Tips
forum-marketing2• Target message boards that have over 1,000 members and 10,000 posts – you want to participate in an ACTIVE site. Steer clear of sites with low traffic and inactivity.
• Stay away from boards that are “spam-heavy”
• Avoid forums that are run by your competition
• Read user agreements and policies carefully. Pay attention to spam rules on forums. Be courteous and follow the forum’s rules.
• Choose a user name and avatar that brands your company name. If it’s allowed, add your company logo as your avatar (avatars are images that show up next to your name on forums)
• Write a dynamic profile – The profile section is where you add your bio and company information (and links). Make yourself stand out and remember to add your picture.
• Always introduce yourself – After you sign up on a forum, introduce yourself in the “Introduction/Get to Know You” sections
• Spend time “lurking” on forums – Learn the culture of the board by lurking and reading other members’ posts and topics. This is the best way to figure out who are the “players” on the board – popular members, who posts daily, etc.
• Avoid drama – Remain professional and don’t get sucked into the politics and drama of forums. Remember you represent your company!