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Why Participating in Forums Still Makes Sense

Remember forums? Sure, you know what I’m talking about. Forums are those text heavy sites where people ask a lot of questions and other people try to answer them. Or maybe they just talk about stuff that they are passionate about. Personally, I’ve spent some time on forums that talk about Jeeps, camping and technology. I love to hear the latest and find out what others who have the same interests as me are saying.

Today, a lot of folks will tell you that forums are being replaced by social media channels like Facebook, Twitter and even Google+. And to some extent, they’re very right. My personal Facebook newsfeed is packed with images and videos of awesome jeeps, places to camp, cool dutch oven recipes and cool tech news.

But there’s one thing that forums do just about better than any other kind of online marketing channel, including social media and blogs. FORUMS ANSWER QUESTIONS. Okay, sit back and play along as I tell you about my weekend. I finally broke down and went 100% mac. I was tired of my slow PC and felt that if I’m going to spend 50+ hours a week on a computer, it should be something awesome (and fast!).

So I get this mac and it creates some issues that I’ve got to overcome. For example, syncing my calendars with iCal gave me a few error messages. So I Googled the error messages and was immediately directed to a forum where others had experienced the same problem and overcome it. Bang. Problem solved – by a forum. Later I wanted to connect an external monitor to the new laptop, so I searched for answers to that problem and guess what – solved by a forum. As things came up, I found myself spending more and more time on forums.

Another big issue was my mouse. I’ve been using an ergonomic joystick mouse forever and I love it. Little did I know that it wasn’t mac compatible. So I went back to my forums and started looking for advice on the best ergonomic mouse for a mac and again – Bang! A forum member directed me to exactly what I was looking for. (Ironically, Amazon.com wasn’t helpful when I searched “joystick mouse for mac”, but they actually did sell the one I ended up buying – weird.)

So how does this impact you, a business owner or blogger looking for site traffic? It’s simple. Use forums to answer the questions that your clients have. Be that guy who goes to the forums and shares his personal expertise to help those with problems related to his industry. Example: You sell a cool, natural mosquito repellant to replace those harsh chemicals that we’ve all used for years. Go find some camping and hiking forums where people are looking for all-natural solutions or alternatives to standard repellants. Check out those forums that are all about natural and healthy products. Participate in the conversations and tell people about your product – which just happens to be a solution to their problem. You’ll make some friends and hopefully make some sales.

If you’re thinking that sounds like a lot of work to answer one person’s question in the hope of making one sale, look at the bigger picture. That question and your answer will live on that forum forever (or until Google artificial intelligence takes over mankind.)

Some things you DON’T want to do:

  • Don’t get all “salesy” and commercial. You don’t want to appear that you’re trolling the web just to sell your product (even though that is what you’re doing.)
  • Don’t limit your answers to quesitons specific to your product. If you can answer other questions because of your expertise, do that too. It’ll make you an authoritative resource and earn you some brownie points.
  • Don’t do it for the backlinks. Most forum links are nofollow anyway. And since the 2012 algorithm updates, forum links aren’t what they used to be anyway.

Forums are great if you want to be helpful and believe that your helpfulness will lead to appearing in the search engine results pages and getting you some additional traffic. That’s why participating in forums still makes sense.

Thanks for reading.

David McBee

The Impact of Social Media for Your Website Content is King, Traffic is Queen, Backlinks Are Peon
The Impact of Social Media for Your Website
Content is King, Traffic is Queen, Backlinks Are Peon

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About davidmcbee: David McBee is an internet marketing consultant specializing in teaching business owners about online strategies including SEO, PPC, content marketing, mobile, infographics, video, blogging and more. www.davidmcbee.com