There are so many social media outlets to utilise in a marketing plan, almost too many, it can become overwhelming!
If you do some background research on a few competitors, you’ll see them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn Pinterest, Orkut, Ning, not to mention multiple forums. Do some more research and you’ll see that they are using none or only the minority of these platforms effectively.
If you are going to do something, do it properly. Don’t feel like you have to be involved with a social networking website, just for the sake of it.
Forums have been a successful part of our marketing plan, right from the start. Unlike many of the other social networking websites, forums have and still are a place where people participate daily. A well maintained forum can give you help, advice and extra revenue. People ask real questions, because they want a real answer, not just because they want people to see their signature link below.
It’s free, all you need, is some time!
Surely, you could just save yourself time and effort, by paying for forum banners, right? Wrong! Forum banners are nowhere near as effective as actively participating in a forum. We have tried banners on multiple forums. Whilst some brought in new clients, most of our forum related clients come directly from our participation with that forum rather than banner advertisements.
#1 Selecting Forums And Signing Up
Finding forums is not a problem. Assuming you are looking for business forums:
- Type “business forums” into Google. By default, the first 4-5 forums will be the ones with the highest traffic.
- Check through posts to see if the replies are high quality. Some forums that are high in the search results have millions of posts, but they are spammy and low quality; avoid!
- Sign up to just 1 forum for the time being.
#2 Filling Out Your Profile & Signature
If you use forum marketing the right way, you’ll start to rack up profile and signature views. You need to ensure that both are filled out.
- Your name should be your business name.
- Include URL and social media links.
- Explain what your business does in a few sentences.
- Fill out a blog post every now and then, if that is one of the forum options.
- Make it to the point, using anchor text to shorten where possible.
- Make it stand out with bold/different coloured text.
- Link to an exclusive offer if possible, to catch the eye of forum users.
#3 The Introduction
Don’t just lurk around the forums; forum marketing is about getting involved. Most forums will have an “Introductions” section, which is designed for this very purpose. Don’t just say “Hi!”, give it a bit of thought. Explain why you are using the forum (networking with other business owners, give/receive advice and so on) and explain your business (no need to be spammy).
#4 Adding Value
This is where most people fail with forum marketing; they don’t add value. If you don’t think you can add any value to a post, don’t post. A lot of forum members will post, simply to get their links out there; fail!
You need people to notice you. If they notice your links, it builds trust, they will notice your links. After you have created a great, informative topic or insightful reply, you will see your profile count grow and your signature URL clicks follow. Establish yourself as someone that is there to improve the community, not to destroy it.
#5 Avoiding Spam
Although this has been mentioned, don’t get involved with posting for the sake of signature link clicks. Most likely, the clicks you are getting from the Admin, who is about to ban you. Of course, you can reply to some posts, to say thanks, or to agree, but don’t make a habit of posting unless you are involving yourself in the conversation in a value-added way.
On the spam note, do not employ any kind of service that offers to build profile links, signature links and the likes, without speaking to them first. Most likely, their “forum marketing” campaigns will consist of spamming forums, on your behalf. Worst of all, you’ll be paying for them to ruin your image. That said some SEO companies will build profile links and the likes in a natural and organic way.
#6 Building Up Feedback
Most business forums will have a feedback system. Like eBay, Amazon and similar sites, when you sell or buy, you can give/receive feedback. Don’t let an opportunity pass. If you get involved in a deal, ask for feedback and provide the same. It helps to establish your business as a reputable member of the forum. Better still, if someone is looking for services that you offer, they will come to you, over a new member with no reputation.
#7 Offer Something Spectacular
We wrote a post recently on Search Engine People – Freebie Marketing. You can see what we did there. Yes, it was a loss leader, but it worked. We got new contacts, feedback and a few long term clients from a simplistic offer that offered people value.
#8 Keep In Touch
Don’t log onto a forum, post an offer, and then stop posting just because you haven’t been successful. The key to successful forum marketing is to keep involved.
Regularly post, think up new offers, build up your feedback and reputation; become a forum marketing pro!
If you try and aim to post at least 2-3 times per week, this should start to build up your overall credibility.