Using forums can be a fantastic way to spread the word
Using forums is a great way to say something. It can be about you, your business, product, service, expertise, whatever.
If you look at the definitions of a forum it may give you some sense of their massive potential. Certainly they are being underused right now.
A Forum – some helpful definitions
a : the market or public place in ancient Roman cities at the heart of both judicial and public business
b : somewhere for the public to gather and discuss openly
c : Online of open discussion or expression of ideas
d: a judicial body or assembly, a public gathering or lecture/ lesson that promotes audience discussion
e : a radio or tv programme involving a discussion of a topic populated by several authorities
The common thread is they are public, promote discussion and often involve those with some authority. So what kind of forum might suit your business?
Vivienne Neale’s 7 tips for using forums
1. Think carefully about your target audience
Some people are put off by the cut and thrust of forums. They can be quite brutal. YouTube is a classic example where subjectivity sometimes reigns and the language can be eye-watering. But then it all depends what kind of videos you are choosing to view I suspect. Be aware that what ever you say it’s open season. Anyone can take a shot at you. Etsy is a great place to do business and take part in their relaxed approach to marketing. LinkedIn on the other hand is a very different space. If you are serious about your business and how it comes across in public then LinkedIn is a brilliant platform. However, the downside is it can be rather straight laced and academic. That is also a positive and a strength too. So think carefully before committing and do your research.
2. Consider how using a forum might benefit your niche
There are so many ways to benefit. It pays to take time before posting away. For example you can use a forum to increase your reputation as an influencer, thinker and knowledgeable niche ninja. If you offer a practical service like building, plumbing, painting or decorating by commenting on local forums you can get your name out there. You can practically demonstrate your professionalism. [Tweet “You can show you care about standards and competencies. “]If someone in your area is taking time to post on forums you start to take notice. People can’t help but feel you are taking a professional approach to your business.
3. Before using forums consider what benefits there are for users
Is there a need? Are you setting this up to benefit you rather than a user? What will your forum contribution offer that others don’t? If it’s not going to gain results is there any reason to add another job to the list?
4. If you choose wisely you will discover groups are groups
By their very nature groups are niche specific; of course they are! You will be able to search for forums covering a specific interest, service, industry, product or geographic location. These can help you gain more information. You can also find the latest developments and be part of knowledge sharing. Obviously it will also give you more exposure. LinkedIn is incredible for this. Did you know 1 million groups+ exist on this platform. Shouldn’t you be using forums now?
5. Some people are using forums on a multiple basis
Active participation can actually generate leads. It’s all about giving. Why not share interesting content or join conversations which link directly to your niche? You will, with care and consideration build credibility. But taking care is vital. Check and recheck posts before publishing as everyone will see. Don’t forget to have a thoughtful signature link that will drive traffic back to your profile too. That can provide targeted likes effectively. Using forums can boost exposure and help you research ideas
6. Using forums can bring all kinds of benefits
If you need support then you’ll find a group of like minded individuals. It’s a great boost when you realise you are not the only one struggling with a problem. I have even found collaborators when using forums. Sometimes through frustration comes fantastic solutions. Just discussing ideas can allow many beneficial observations to surface. Just this morning a new business model emerged at 7am! Check out Seth Godin on forum marketing too.
7. [Tweet “Using forums can help you find customers”]
It also allows you to keep an eye on competitors. You can easily make personal connections which may or may not end up as sales prospects. You may well find that your company profile has more influence than the actual website. this is certainly true for freelancers. It really will pay off. Do check out the further reading too.
Please connect with me on LinkedIn and who knows, we might end up in a forum together!
You can also find me on Twitter @supposeiam see the twitter feed on the right of the page.
How to market through forums
Using forums for market research