Online Forums have been Around Forever, Do They Still Work for Online Marketing?
If you have been online for any time and into marketing, or website development I am positive you have been on at least one Forum or Group Page related to something you are interested in. Much like a WiKi these sites are information driven but also user generated and are basically what we had before everyone had a blog.
Forums, or User Groups generally have a niche theme, be it dogs, or cat’s or this hobby or that product they have a theme and people use them to share what they know both in study and in experience. Forums have been adapted to become popular sites like Angie’s List where the topic is local business and your reviews and feedback are related to them. There are many sites like these concepts that actually use forum software, including some big names like the Bank Of America’s Small Business Community Forums or Quara .
How do these forums work for Online Marketing?
1. Forums by nature allow both teaching and learning. Being artful in their use you can teach as much as you learn and people will become aware of your own expertise in your field or niche even if you don’t own the forum and don’t buy advertising on it. Building this brand trust and reputation can lend itself to gaining interviews, press expert spots, and guest blogging opportunities on dozens or even hundreds of sites. Many of the people you read as columnist on Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, or Mashable have started as forum posters and bloggers until their personal brand was built.
2. Link Building. In Search Engine Optimization which you need not know but should always be mindful of there are two important things a website needs to rank high in search results. The first is Inbound Links and the only thing close to it on the radar is social influence followed by targeted traffic. Forum’s usually offer either a profile link or a custom forum signature with link to your business website or blog. (NO AFFILIATE LINKS ALLOWED)
3. Forums also help with establishing social influence. Immediate replies and conversations start, social sharing buttons are pushed, screenshots are turned into viral media, and great post reach a point of syndication in these rapidly indexed social forums. All of that is social engagement and when it drives action such as your link getting clicked or a sign-up form being filled out you get big points for that from Google, Yahoo, and Bing.
4. The next forum benefit is the trifecta of good SEO and that is targeted traffic. It is no doubt that computers get smarter every day and Big Data which is information gained about you through popular social networks, search engines, retail shopping and more is a huge part of your website rankings. In the past, you have been able to get ranked by having someone click a link with your keyword in it and visit your site even if they had no forgone interest. Now days that traffic won’t get you a page one ranking but someone who has visited Ertl, and a Hobby Forum for Model Cars clicking your link to an article on painting model cars will get you there. Forums are like a middle man to that process. It bridges interest, with social interaction and related information, and then sends that traffic to a related destination when used properly. Targeted traffic is also buyer traffic and in small quantities can still earn you thousands of dollars a month in sales.
5. I could go on about forums all day long but the big boost I must wrap this up with is community partnering or peer to peer support. We all run into products the customer wants that we don’t offer and services related to our service such as graphic design to go with our marketing services or website development. We also get busy at times and need to outsource pieces of a job and those things are all within reach as you get to know other forum thought leaders.
I promised to hold it to 5 tips because you won’t wish to be on this article all day but be sure to stay tuned as we are sure to continue adding more post like this in the future. In the meantime, comment below if you know a great online marketing or home based business forum and who knows, it may even get a review.