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September 3, 2007

My Secrets Of “Forum Marketing”

If you visit the popular “Internet Marketing Warriors” discussion forum, you’ll notice that I have nearly 7500 posts! If you were to visit any of several dozen other online forums and discussion boards, you’d also discover thousands of my posts.

The reason that I have so many posts to online forums and discussion boards is that I have found them a very effective marketing tool. I use online forums to:

  1. Allow potential customers and joint venture partners to actually get a feel for who I am.
  2. Share my knowledge on topics that I understand, while at the same time generating links back to my sites.
  3. Get quick answers to questions I have and quick feedback on ideas that I have.
  4. Conduct market research – investigating the problems, concerns, needs, wants, and quirks of my markets.
  5. Getting a feel for potential clients and joint venture partners.
  6. Getting feedback on products and services that I’m considering purchasing, marketing or developing.

As you can see, forums can be very useful for many purposes. Since I am in business online, I think of much of what I do on forums as “marketing.” In that regards, there are certain rules that I follow and recommend that you do too.

Let’s look at some of my “secret” or often unspoken rules for forum marketing.

  1. Don’t be anonymous. People buy from people that they know, like and trust. If they don’t even know who you are, can’t find a link to your sites, and have no clue who they’re dealing with, they can’t “know” you… let alone like and trust you.

    Use your real name in your profiles, include links to your websites, and include a photo. You don’t need to tell them everything about yourself, but people do buy from their friends, and I’m certain that you know “who” your friends actually “are.”

  2. Be courteous. For some reason, people are often ultra-rude, more aggressive, and just plain “nasty” in online interactions. The person that you’re being mean to may be an ideal customer or joint venture partner. Why would you kill the relationship before it can even begin. Also beware that others observe your interactions and take permanent (subconscious notes).
  3. Consider the long-term consequences of your posts. When you make a comment, accusation, or attack someone on a public discussion forum, your words often become a “permanent” part of the search engines databases. So, even if you later apologize or point out that you were mistaken, when someone searches for a person or company’s name in the search engines, they may encounter the inappropriate remark that you made. The title of that post is often the title that show in the search engine results! Many people will look no further after seeing your post “headlined” in the search engines!

    There’s really no easy, effective way to undo the damage once you’ve posted something to the database.

  4. Don’t forget to leave ways for people to contact you. If the forum allows a signature file, use one. If the forum allows a profile, set one up. Use a username that tells who you are, and not something that you’ll later want to change
  5. Optimize your posts. Given that search engines DO index your posts, you want to make sure that your keywords are in the right places, such as the title of the posts (and maybe in hyper-linked text). Busy forums are frequently spidered by the search engines and are therefore an excellent way to get your pet projects indexed!
  6. Use images in your posts. Some forums allow you to post an image link underneath your post. Where that’s allowed, you often want to include a relevant image. Images naturally draw the eye to where you want to focus your readers’ attention… the link that you want them to click on.
  7. Participate in popular threads. Many forums give you the count of how many views and/or posts a given thread has. It’s human nature to want to be “a part of” something popular. So people have a tendency to read threads that lots of others have read, and to post to threads that lots of others have posted to. Therefore, it follows that if you post to one of these threads you’re more likely to be a part of the noticed conversations than if you post to one that ONLY you posted to or read.
  8. Don’t try to be deceptive. Many forums allow the moderators or visitors to readily identify forum users through features such as IP tracking. That means that when you use multiple identities on a forum to make your topic appear “more popular,” you are often only deluding yourself. People are alot smarter than some of us give them credit for, and they often quickly see through such ruses.

    You should acknowledge that if you can figure out a “sneaky” way to get an unfair advantage on a discussion forum, then those who’ve been a part of that community and using the same software for countless years have probably seen it all. So, your tricks are painfully obvious to them – even when they politely don’t “call you on it.” Instead the community will simply ignore you until you go away.

  9. Post often but watch how much time you spend on forums. Participating in the discussion at online forums has generated countless clients, subscribers, business partners, and friends. That has made it a very worthwhile investment for me. As long as you don’t use participating in forums as a means of procrastinating, it can be very helpful for you too.

Using my secret forum marketing tactics, I have built a steady flow of business and traffic to my websites. It’s also an excellent way to build some real relationships. Frankly, it’s not even in my top 10 most effective methods of generating free website traffic. At the same time, I learned a lot of those other traffic generation techniques from online forums!

If you are curious as to what my top 10 free website traffic generation techniques currently are, visit: http://Top10TrafficGenerationTechniqes.com

Enjoy your time at online discussion forums. It allows you to market while also facilitating our need for social interaction. It is also a great way to market, as long as you remember “my secrets of forum marketing.”

Author:  Willie Crawford is an 11 year veteran of internet marketing. His websites run on near autopilot, with huge amounts of traffic generated with very few simple techniques. Discover these simple, free traffic generation strategies at: http://Top10TrafficGenerationTechniqes.com

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