I was very surprised by the reaction to my first article. I was expecting to receieve a lot of mediocre response (if any at all) but everyone seemed quite taken with it in the IM forums I posted it to and the IM contacts I showed it to loved it. On the flip side of the coin I also received a load of responses asking me what forum marketing was, if it was really worth it and, if so, how on earth to go about it. So, without further ado, I give you my introduction to forum marketing.Getting Started
So you've found yourself a niche to promote. You've read tons of guides on sales pages, viral strategies and all that jazz but now you need some traffic. There are loads of ways to generate free traffic, so don't for a minute think you can get away with doing just this, but if you get it right then Internet forums can provide masses of targeted traffic.Step 1: Finding Forums
Its not just about finding forums targeted at your niche (after all, if you can't do that with Google then you're in the wrong business my friend) but finding the right kind of forum. For starters you want to find the ones that have the most traffic but fortunately Google is likely to do that for you by having them at the top when you search.
What to look for in a forum -
- Traffic - A good indication is number of registered users (usually shown on the front page).
- Signiatures - If you can't get your link in there then you're wasting your time.
- Community - If threads often go unanswered or only receive a couple of replies then you'll have to put in a lot more effort for less return. Find somewhere people keep good threads going and do more than just post up their own stuff.
The easiest way to find out if a forum is suitable is to watch it for a couple of days before you waste time signing up. Check out how long threads can be expected to hang around, how many views popular threads get and generally how much attention people pay to each other.Step 2: Signing Up
Now that you've identified several forums that you're going to target you need to make an account on each and get posting straight away. Don't bother filling in your signiature yet just get in there and introduce yourself. Create a thread, or post in the one specifically for introductions, and say hello. Then go post in as many threads as you possibly can just to get in the swing of posting to that forum. Say hello to other newbies in their intro threads. Offer congratulations to people who have announced something great. Commiserate with anyone posting about something bad. Don't think about it, don't worry about saying the wrong things and certainly don't start advertising yet. Just get in there and get posting.
A lot of people feel awkward posting in a forum to begin with. A lot of the regulars have created a sense of community and newbies feel like outsiders when confronted with it. Don't be daunted by it. Do you really think these people signed up to an Internet forum because they are anti-social types? Seems unlikely doesn't it. They're eager to socialise with new people and you should be too.Step 3: Create Threads To Get More Sig Views
Once you're settled into the forum and have posted a few times in other people's threads you need to get in the habit of creating your own. At best people skim read the replies to other people's posts but if they've clicked on the topic itself then they're going to read the opening post. Don't spam the forum with any old rubbish (its not going to stay on the front page long anyway if you do) but aim to create interesting discussion that people want to be involved in.Conclusion
The most important thing to take from this article is the need to get invovled in the forums you join. Get to know people, post often and generally become part of the community. The more people get to know you the more curious they'll be to check out your signiature link. So don't be afraid of it, just get out there and start posting.Bonus Tip
Before I go I want to share one last bonus tip for creating fantastic threads with very little extra effort on your part. Since you're going to be a member of several different forums, simply take the topics of the best threads from each and repost them to the other forums. Some of the time the interest level just won't be the same but generally if it was interesting to one forum it will be to the others as well.