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Marketing Through Forum Participation

Marketing through forum participation

You’ll notice I did not say “Posting to Forums”, I said “Forum PARTICIPATION”

Participation is the key here! Nobody loves a spammer!

Spamming forums is a no-no. It is a bad marketing tactic only used by lowlifes who have no consideration for others.

Think about it… Do you participate in forums just to read the ads of other people? Do you pay any attention to their ads? If YOU don’t, then what makes you think someone else will? If it annoys you to see other people just blast ads and contribute nothing useful, then you can be assured that you will only annoy other people if you do the same. Just because it is YOUR product and YOU think it is neat, does not mean anyone else will feel differently about your inconsiderate ads than they do about other spammer’s inconsiderate ads!

Auto-posting is even worse – it is not only inconsiderate, it is totally ineffective.

So, What Is The Right Way To Post On Forums?

First of all, choose your forums carefully. Forums can benefit you in two ways:

  1. By networking with other professionals, you can learn more about how to operate your business successfully.
  2. By sharing your expertise, you can gain the trust and respect of other people, and meet potential clients or customers.

There are two distinct purposes there, and two distinct types of forums. Do NOT confuse the two purposes, or you’ll be wasting your time with forum posts!

To network with other professionals, choose forums which are aimed at professionals. For example, I’d join a Web Design Professionals forum. I would use that forum to ask questions, and gain professional knowledge. I would NOT promote my service there, though I WOULD leave my URL at the end of every post (Links on forums don’t provide very much affect on Search Engine Ranking directly but it gets your name out there and more eye balls on it which will create more traffic and searches for your name in the Search Engines).

Choosing The Right Forum To Participate In

To use a forum as a marketing venue, I’d choose a forum that had a high percentage of people who NEED my services and expertise. I could choose a forum for Learning Web Design, or Web Design Startup. I could choose a New Business Forum, where a lot of people might have need for a website – since I also know a lot about starting businesses, this is a good fit.

What Is The Right Thing To Say?

Now, when I have chosen a forum to market TO, I would NOT send them ads! When someone asked a question, I would ONLY give them a link to a FREE resource that I have. When someone asks for help, and you reply with “I sell this service, email me!!!”, then you are considered rude. Trust me on this one, do NOT reply to a cry for help with nothing but an ad!

Instead, offer REAL help. Give them genuine information that helps them know what it is that they need. If they then know that they need additional help, they will go to the person who already helped them the most, and who they could understand!

Indirect marketing is by FAR the most effective way to make headway on forums. Give helpful information that genuinely demonstrates your skills in a kind way, and then drop a signature line at the bottom to tell them who you are and what you do.

The only exception to this is when someone says, “I am looking for a part for this item, and cannot find it!” Then they are asking to BUY something, and it is appropriate to reply OFF LIST, that you have the item, or can get it. The off list part is important, because that person ASKED for an ad… No one else on the list did! Even then, be polite, and apologize if the offer is not wanted.

Design Your Signature Line

You must always follow the rules for posting on forums. Some allow signature lines, some do not. The vast majority do though, and your signature line is the way that you market. A short, simple signature line, with a single URL on it (targeted to the topic in question – two URLs maximum!) will get traffic from people who are interested in what you have, because of what you SAID in your post.

Some people use a Pre-Written signature line. I never do. I have 30 websites, and offer a range of services. So when I drop a sig line, I target the URL to whatever is most appropriate for the post in question. If someone is asking about quick and healthy meals, I drop one URL. If they are asking about how much is reasonable to spend on a website, I drop a different one. I keep them very simple so I can type them fast – an example would be:

Valik
Truck Enthusiast
Owner, Truck Powered
https://truckpowered.com

That sig line works ANYWHERE, whether HTML is allowed or not. And I can quickly change it to:

Valik
Web Designer
Owner, Timber Web Design
https://timberwebdesign.com

Or:

Valik
North Idaho Explorer
Owner, North Idaho Pass
https://northidahopass.com

This makes it very easy for me to target the exposure of my sites, to get a new site exposed quickly, and to keep from having a sig line that lists 30 URLs! It is far more effective with this many sites to do this, than it is to use a single doorway page, because people would come in, and get lost in the home page with that many topics coming off the page!

Forums are a great way to get going, and they were the primary means of building my business the first time around. I participated on Computer Help forums, and met many great clients and customers there – some of whom, seven years later, still email me to see how my family is doing, even though I no longer market those services. I am still referred to regularly on one forum as “the Mac Guru”, even though I have not posted there more than twice in the last three years.

Just don’t abuse them, or think of them as open season on spamming. Follow the rules, and use them in the right way. You’ll get further, build solid business contacts, and your time will be well spent in the long term.

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