A Forum is an internet message board where like-minded individuals congregate to discuss topics, ask questions and generally network.
Wait a minute – isn’t that what social media is for?!
It certainly is, but social media sites can sometimes be complicated to use and a little daunting. An internet forum is usually much more straight-forward. You sign up for a free account (although there are paid levels on some of them) and then browse through the different discussion topics to find threads of conversation you find interesting and want to get involved in.
To find a forum that’s related to your industry or your target market’s industry, do a keyword search on Google, e.g. marketing forum, beauty forum, small business forum … you get the idea.
Once you’ve joined a forum you have the option to add a signature to all the posts you make. Be creative with this – add your website address or a link to your Facebook page. Note: some forums will only allow you to do this once you’ve made a certain number of posts or if you have a paid account.
What should you use a forum for?
- Ideas for blog posts – look through the topics being discussed, many of the questions could be turned into a blog post
- Answer questions – show off your expertise by answering questions, but remember not to sell in your reply. By giving people genuine help you’ll soon become known as the go-to person for that topic
- Ask questions – forums are a great place to do some market research – the replies may often throw up things you’d never have thought of
- Find new contacts – look for referral partners or suppliers, do some research on them by browsing their activity in the forum first
Here’s some fantastic business forums I’ve used in the last year and actually got a new client from one of them:
Have you found a forum useful in the last year? Let me know in the comments box below.