Forums Engagement and Marketing
There are forums online for virtually every area of interest. These are places where people go to seek the advice of real people. If you can answer someone’s question in a forum, they may give you a recommendation visible not just to the forum’s members but also to everyone as the thread appears in search results.
Marketing to Forum Communities
Forums are a great place to connect with people interested in a topic related to your industry. No matter what industry you are in, there are bound to be associated forums. There are forums for all sorts of interests, from sports to events, companies to people.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms, forums are ideal for in-depth discussions on specific topics. The threads in forums are not interrupted with unrelated activities, as news feeds are. It is easy to track a conversation and participate in a deeper dialogue on a forum. For marketers, forums allow you to discuss your company in greater detail and answer specific questions people have.
While forums are discussions within a specific community online, they are generally visible to anyone. The threads in most forums are picked up by search engines and often displayed in their search engine result pages (SERPs).
Developing a Forum Marketing Strategy
Find the Right Forums
Only a few of the best forums online are worth investing time in. To find the top forums in your niche, try asking people. Ask your employees, customers, and suppliers if they read any forums related to your industry. After all, those are the people who would use them, and they are the exact type of people you want to target. If you do not receive any recommendations from people you know, type a question related to your product, service, or brand in Google to find niche-specific forums.
Try to gather a list of five to 10 forums that might be worth participating in. All of the forums on your list should have at least 1,000 members and 10,000 posts, which shows that they are established. They should also be receiving at least a dozen new posts a day, which is a sign that the forum is still active. None of them should have lots of spam, and your competitors should host none.
Seniority is Significant
Create an Account on the Desired Forum
Seniority matters on forums. Members who have been registered for a long time are respected, and their opinions are valued more than newer members’ opinions. Many forums even limit new members’ activity for a probationary period. Because seniority is significant, it is essential to register on prospective forums soon after finding them and keep engaging in them until you achieve some seniority.
Follow the Rules
All forums have rules and guidelines that members agree to adhere to. When registering, be sure to read through these carefully. There are important things to note in the often boring language of these terms. For instance, will you be able to post links? Is promoting a business or contacting someone on behalf of your company allowed? Should you break the rules like these, you will incur the wrath of veterans, and your reputation will suffer.
Be a Person
The username and avatar you select should be somewhat personal. If you can show other forum members that you are just another average person, they will be more apt to trust you. One of the easiest ways is to upload an actual photo of yourself as the avatar.
Sign as Your Company or as a Person
Your forum signature will appear at the bottom of every post you write. As long as it is allowed by the forum rules, this is an excellent place to promote your company. You can choose to include your company’s name, logo, and URL in your signature. However, suppose you decide to keep a neutral reputation in the forum. In that case, you may choose to avoid this kind of branded signature in order for other forum members to not identify you as a representative of the product you will soon recommend.
Document Your Efforts
As with all marketing campaigns, your forum marketing endeavors should be documented. Forum marketing is a long-term strategy, so you should record your username and password for future use. If you find a question being asked repeatedly, you may even want to record the thread where you answered the question thoroughly in your records. You can supplement future answers with this thread.
Contribute to the Community
Successful forum marketing comes from being an active member of the community. Make regular, helpful contributions to the community, and you will be rewarded. As your reputation grows, people will become more interested in the products or services you offer. Do not worry about plugging your company in every post. Instead, provide helpful solutions and enjoy being part of the forum. The referrals will come with time. This is especially important when you are a new member.
Reach Forum Members with Special Offers
Once you have established yourself as a respected community member, you can begin referring people to your company. Initially, this should only be done when asked a question related to your product, which your product can benefit the user, and a neutral profile should post the thread. However, as time goes by and you earn authority in the forum, you can become more aggressive. When marketing to forum members, extend special offers only available to the community. Free samples, innovative contests, and exclusive discounts are reliable ways of marketing to a forum where you are a veteran member.
These more aggressive strategies should only be used once you are a respected authority in the forum. Special offers can have a great conversion rate and return on investment (ROI), but implementing these too early could undermine all your efforts in the forum.