Online Forums – How to Use an Online Forum

Online forums (also known as online discussion sites, message boards, newsgroups and internet forums) are powerful tools for sharing information. Their use has become omnipresent and wide reaching. Many people use discussion sites on a daily basis, whether it’s to gain knowledge, share ideas or simply to feel as part of a community.

Why use Online Forums?

* communicate with other like-minded people who have the same or similar interests

* exchange intellectual ideas and thoughts

* offer your opinion or advice

* submit materials for others to consider and provide feedback on such as your website, business ideas or questions

* find out new opinions and ideas

* be up to date with latest news and trends

* meet new friends and leads

Participating in forums is another way to stay in contact with persons belonging to the same community and to keep abreast of recent events. It’s a place to voice your opinions, be heard and discover other’s thoughts.

This social media outlet can become addictive. For some, Online Forums provide a haven; a place to escape the daily grind and indulge in the community aura. Forum usage is certainly a concern for employers, due to reduced productivity and procrastination on behalf of the users involved. However, most of us are thankful for their existence.

How to Use Online Forums:

The appearance of an online forum may seem daunting at first. There’s information, posts and threads flowing all over the home page in what appears to be an ad hoc manner. Occasionally, the initial reaction of first time users is to put discussion sites in the too hard basket. Here’s an easy step by step guide to using Online Discussions:

* Registration. Most discussion boards require you to become a member by registering or signing up in order to post. Invariably, you will need to provide a Username (your alias), password and an email address. The forum will also require your agreement to its terms and conditions.

* Validation. After registering to an internet forum, you will need to validate your email by following the validation link emailed to you by the site.

* Rules. Familiarize yourself with the rules and netiquette required by the forum. Generally, spamming, double posting and registering multiple user accounts is prohibited. Try to adhere in order to avoid being called a troll for unintentionally breaking the rules.

* Posting. A forum has predefined topics (called threads). Members may submit messages or comments (called posts) within these topics. The message will be enclosed in a box with the username, time and date notified either on the left hand side or appearing at the top of the post. Usually members are allowed to edit or delete their own posts. Many online forums limit posts to a certain number of characters.

* Threads. A thread (topic) is started by a post. Other members may then follow in the conversation started by the original post (sometimes called the thread starter). At times the responses and comments can become derailed. The tread generally displays posts in opposite chronological order (from first to current). The abbreviation OP often refers to the original poster. Some message boards enable you to customize the view to commence with the starting post. They may also have a thread view which shows the branching of replies in priority to chronological order.

* Moderating. Moderators monitor and enforce the message board rules. They may have access to all posts and threads or just those within their area of responsibility. Mods have the power to delete a post and to ban and suspend members who violate the discussion site’s policy. The moderator is usually the site owner’s friend. Among other responsibilities, they also help members in need and respond to complaints.

If you’re a first timer to online forums, try some smaller message boards to start with. Smaller sites still have that community feel and are more than happy to accommodate beginners. Once you become accustomed to the way discussion websites work, you can then join some larger expert message boards if you wish. Above all, don’t be shy to voice your opinion; that’s what forums are for.

Don’t Forget Forums As a Formidable Social Networking Source

For many of us, the term ‘social media’ is practically synonymous with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

At the very least, we will tend to associate social media with analogues of these three big sites and generally we think of social networks as modern sites where you can log in and share pictures and status updates.

In reality though, the web has been social long before Facebook was a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.

When the web first exploded in popularity, people were already having discussions and debates about their favorite hobbies and interests but they were doing so in chat rooms and on forums.

And while Facebook and Twitter have more prominence now than those aforementioned chat rooms, they are nevertheless still out there and they still offer a lot of opportunities.

What are Forums?

A forum is essentially a message board, normally attached to a website, where people can post questions and get answers. Users must first create a profile and from there they can create or respond to ‘threads’ as well as doing other things like send private messages.

In other words, these act like the groups or pages on social media, providing discussion that is centered around a specific topic and where only ‘members’ get to contribute.

This is one of the biggest attractions of these forums – they have a ‘VIP’ feeling and tend to nurture a much more close-knit community. Many people will make friends on forums, or will even work together on joint projects etc.

The Advantages of Forums

So while forums are smaller than social networks, they are also much more targeted and the users tend to be very committed and passionate to the subject. This creates an ideal opportunity for you to gain exposure for your product or website if you post there.

The problem is, most companies have no idea how to use forums. They will simply create accounts, log in and then post their link like an advert. Bearing in mind how much of a clique the users of these forums become and how protective of their community they are, you can imagine that this is often met with disdain.

To succeed on forums then, the objective is rather to post links only after you’ve established yourself as an active member of that community.

To do that, you need to take part: by answering questions, by starting discussions and by finding things you find useful. Though it takes a little work, this can allow you to learn more about your target audience, to demonstrate yourself as an expert on your topic and to build loyal fans and even friends.

Once you manage that, you may even find that they actively help you to promote your business!

Where to Find Relevant Forums

In this article I am going to talk about where you can go to find relevant forums in your particular niche.

Using forums as a means to determine what your market want and also as a means to market yourself and your product is a really effective.

People who are active on forums are generally quite passionate about that topic and so it gives you insight into what people are really discussing and things that are relevant to your potential customers.

Therefore you need to first of all find these forums.

The easiest way to do this is to do a Google search. You can search for something like the following:

  • keyword forum
  • keyword community
  • niche forums

Where the word keyword can be a particular keyword that is specific to your online business and the word niche is obviously the particular niche that you are in.

When you do a search like this you will find a lot of forums showing up in your results. It might be tempting to sign up with every single forum that you see.

However it is best to choose only the top forums and use only those for your forum marketing.

So how do you know if a forum will be good or not? Here are a few things that you can check.

Membership Numbers

How many members does that forum have? If there are only a few members on the forum then that will not be a good place for you to market your business. Ideally you will want to choose a forum that have a lot of members.

Most forums have a membership count that is visible towards the bottom of the webpage. Here you will be able to find out how many members the forum has.

However sometimes you will notice that a forum has many members but in fact these members are no longer active.

Activity

You need to choose a forum that has a lot of active members. This means that the members of the forum are using the Forum every day and are being active by posting comments and interacting with each other.

Just as many forums have a membership count towards the bottom of the webpage you might also notice an active membership count or the number of people who are actively on the forum at that moment in time.

This is the member count that you really want to be looking at.

If the forum is active then you know that you will have plenty of people reading your own posts and having visibility to your offer in your signature.

Signature

Obviously you will want to choose a forum that allows you to add a signature. Some don’t so it is very important that you check this straight away. If you can’t add a signature then it is probably not worth your while joining that forum. However if it is a very active forum you can still use it for market research.

If the forum allows you to add a signature then you will be able to add your link to your squeeze page to build your list.

There are many rules that you need to follow when you join a forum and you should take note of this. There are unfortunately many people who spam forums and don’t actually post any helpful information.

This is not the type of person that you want to be seen as on any of the forums you join.

How Can Forum Posting Help Boost Your Online Business?

To most of the online marketers, forum posting might seem quite a weak way of website promotion. Actually, forum posting has proved lately to be a strong strategy, which if implemented correctly can bring you high traffic, credibility and big sales. It is not as simple as that, but if you entrust the whole process in the hands of a highly professional team, such as a SEO UK team, you are going to be able to rip the benefits soon.

Forum posting is a very effective strategy- it is a very cheap stratagem that you can implement; plus, is a very good way of building one way links to your site. In the forum posting, your profile usually has a signature at the end. Now within that signature anchor text links can be placed, which, if people click on they are taken to your presentation website.

Basically, the more of an active member you are on a highly respectable forum, the more your signature is going to be displayed. This means, that if people like the way you respond to queries, or your witty way of speaking, or problem solving strategies and if you are a helpful member always looking to give a good advice to a fellow member, they will start trusting you. If they start trusting you, they will always seek your advice. Again, if they like your “virtual personality”, they will sooner or later become interested in what is your field of expertise, what are you selling, what are your marketing strategies, how does your website look, where are you from and many more. All they have to do is click on the link within the signature…be taken to your main webpage…and they are only a step away from being converted from visitors to actual customers!

In case you do not have the necessary time to dedicate towards becoming very active on such an important forum, you should know that web promotion companies can take this burden off your shoulders. The professional team will build a profile for you, of course always according to your wishes and views, and they will start becoming active on that forum. Slowly, they will build a good reputation for you as “the person behind the words”. Then, given the fact people like the way you talk and answer, and behave on the forum, they will eventually clink on that link, even if from pure curiosity. Forum posting belongs among the cheapest web promotion strategies, but it is one of the most effective ones, which quickly shows results if done properly.

How To Stop Getting Distracted When Forum Marketing

In this article I am going to talk about using forums to generate traffic to your squeeze page. Also I want to suggest ways that you can use forum marketing so that you don’t get distracted.

Forums are a great place full of enthusiastic people who want to interact and share. There are so many forums now that you will find a good one in any niche area.

As an internet marketer you can use forums to build peoples awareness of your business and brand and also build valuable relationships.

To use a forum effectively for marketing purposes you need to add value. Everything you do must be for the benefit of those in the forum so that you are seen as knowledgeable and helpful.

Most forums allow you to have a signature link where you can promote your business. This is the place where you can add a link to your squeeze page and offer something valuable and helpful to people on the forum.

This enables you to build your email list with targeted prospects – people who are interested in your niche topic and if you continue to add value you will find that they become loyal followers and repeat buyers.

However, one of the downsides of using forum marketing is that it is so easy to get distracted while interacting in the forum itself.

Forum Distraction

Have you ever spent hours in a forum and at the end you realise that you didn’t actually provide any value yourself? All you did was read and read! You got distracted and hooked into the discussions going on.

This is exactly what you must not let happen – although it is the very situation that you yourself should create for others in the forum. Provide such interesting posts and threads that people get hooked!

This is what I recommend you do if you want to use forums for marketing your business and are struggling to stay focused.

  • Decide to add 10 valuable comments or posts to the forum. It is better to use a specific number of posts rather than set a time limit because time can pass by distraction whereas if you know you have to add 10 posts then you will not get distracted so easily.
  • Look at the threads in the forum and pin point the 10 that you can add value to.
  • Open up all threads in a new window so that you have 10 windows open.
  • Now go through each one adding your helpful comment.
  • Shut down the window when you have completed your comment and work on the next.
  • Eventually all 10 windows will be closed and you can then move on and do the next task which might be product creation.

Doing it this way really helps to keep you focused.