Have you tried fishing by shooting fish in a barrel? Sounds pretty awesome, no? No more need to find the right fishing spot or chasing different pools of fish with a fish finder. You only need to shoot randomly in a barrel full of fish and you’re sure to bring up a fish. Sadly, too many online marketers and online promoters think of forum marketing along these lines. While the high level of subject specificity and niche targeting can yield highly targeted traffic from forums, most would be forum marketers get the forum marketing game wrong. Dead wrong.
Many actually just do ‘drive by spamming.’ They create an account, barge into any discussion, drop a few links, and keep repeating the process until they get banned and/or their IP gets restricted. Others try to be a bit more clever by building signature links that promote their sites or pages. They then post on as many discussions as possible. They post to get their signatures noticed. They don’t post anything of value. In fact, many just post smileys, thanks for the post or I agree. Predictably, these accounts also get banned and many of these forum ‘marketers’ end up wondering why they don’t make any money.
Make no mistake about it: Forum marketing can truly work wonders for your online marketing campaign. Not only do you get your brand in front of the right people, you also get to shape online opinions about the brands you are promoting. The key to successful forum marketing is to stop acting like a drive-by spamming douchebag and actually contribute helpful and valuable information at the right forums. The step by step list below helps you do forum marketing the right way. Go through the right steps and you increase your chances of getting much better results from your forum marketing efforts.
Find Forums that Directly Talk about your Niche
If you want to avoid being accused of being a spammer or if you want your links to actually get a lot of mileage, make sure you pick out forums that are populated by people who actually care about the niche you’re covering. Find forums based on the keywords you’re targeting and spend some time exploring the forums. You’ll quickly figure out whether you’ve hit the sweet spot or if you’re trying to find some traffic love in all the wrong places.
Find Indirect Forums or Forums with the right Subforums
Just because a forum doesn’t have a name or description that includes your target keywords doesn’t mean it is completely a waste of time. Snoop around its subforums. There might be subforums that fit the niche of the site or sites you’ll be promoting. Don’t give up on a forum just because it doesn’t, at first glance, cater to the niche you’re hitting.
Create Influence Leaders not Spam Accounts
Once you have a solid list of forums and/or subforums, you should create an account on each of the sites with the goal of becoming an influence leader. This means you shouldn’t create accounts with obviously fake sounding keyword-based names. Select your names based on whether they build credibility or not. Select avatars that can help you establish influence in the minds of other forum members. Don’t bother setting up signatures. You wouldn’t be using signature to promote. Besides, if you use signatures to promote, you’ll be too easy to dismiss as a spammer or, at best, a self-interested poster.
Put in the Time to Build Credibility
Create posts with real information. Your contributions must push the discussion forward. Warning: This is a marathon, not a sprint. It can take weeks if not months to establish a reputation as the ‘go to’ person regarding certain topics or be regarded as a person who wouldn’t steer people wrong with suspicious or low value information.
Don’t just Show up to Post – Show up to Learn!
As mentioned above, building credibility one post at a time takes quite a bit of time. As you’re building credibility, you are also being educated about your niche. Don’t waste this opportunity. Your target audience will talk about the latest information in your niche. Soak up all this information. You’ll only become more knowledgeable, but you can repeat some of this information later on
Use Social Media Hot Trends to Spice up Conversations
Your target audience members are not idiots. They aren’t interested in information anyone with half a brain and Google News can dredge up. They are looking for hot and spicy news or tidbits. Give it to them by trawling through Twitter for late breaking information in your niche. Develop a reputation for quality by listening to Twitter influence leaders in your niche. Raise the issues they raise. Get controversial.
Learn to Direct the Conversation
Forum discussions often take a life of their own. Know how to direct these conversations toward the subject matter your links will talk about. Keep in mind that the payoff is not the links you share – It is your ability to direct discussions and direct attention within your niche. Know the difference.
Share links only when it adds value to your post’s content
Avoid the temptation to drop links on discussions. These are worthless. You have to actually contribute to the conversation by explaining why the links answer people’s concerns or bring new information to the table. Also, don’t just copy and paste excerpts and a link. Blend the excerpted text with the current discussion through commentary. Always ‘insulate’ your links with other links from recognized authority and legitimate sites in your niche. These not only protect you from accusations of dropping spammy links but the legitimate relevant links give context to the content you’re sharing.
Links Must not End Conversations but Push them Forward
Share links to web pages or blog posts that are actually created for specific conversations. These take more time to do, but they are worth it. They ensure that conversations are dragged on. The more you can drag on a conversation, the more page views that conversation gets. The more page views the conversation gets, the more people might click on your link.
Too many marketers misunderstand forum marketing. Either it is a mythical magic bullet that solves all their problems or it is a low-value way of promotions that gets worthless traffic. Neither is true. Keep the tips above in mind when building a forum marketing strategy that is engineered to produce only positive results.