Forum Marketing and promotion methods are virtually free. You can drive a lot of targeted traffic over to yoru site with the posts you make. It will take a bit of your time, but once you learn how to post effectively (without spamming) you can use the power of forum posts to get lots of targeted traffic. Note: Forums are themed and are based around discussions on a specific topic… example a Marketing Forum, Business Forum, baseball, cricket forum. So, you must only particpate and promote on forums that are in your niche or relelevant to your product, website or service. Doing otherwise, will be a complete waste of your time.
Finding Your Niche Forum
You need to find your niche forum first. For this you will need to search the web. I suggest you go about finding your niche forum in this manner –
(1) Search with the appropriae keyword on Google. For example “Marketing Forum” or “Marketing Forums”. A very good targeted search would be to type the following into the Google search box below. Make sure you type things exactly as below with spaces etc., but do not include the quotes. This search example is for “marketing” forums…
“allintitle: marketing filetype:html forum”
(2) Search with your desired keyword on del.icio.us . You will get quality links here.
(3) Visit your niche industry portal and see if they have a directory list of your niche forum. If they have a forum, make a post and ask users for this info.
(4) Visit the forums in the steps above (specifically the popular ones) – and ask an open question to members… something like – “Hi, I am new here. While I particpate in this forum, I would like to know of other similar Marketing Forums online that are popular. I would very much appreciate if members could post links to these other popular forums in this marketing niche.
(5) Read your niche blogs and look for the power bloggers giving thier list of niche forums.
(6) You can also find your niche forums by searching on websites that are basically “Forum Directories” – like, www.big-boards.com . Make sure you browse the categories rather than do a keyword search on this site as its not very effective. This site lists data for each forum listed, such as number of posts, number of threads, number of members etc – so its a great place to start. A very good Forum Search Engine is BoardTracker. (Tip: search for keywords in your niche, and then order results by date. Then head over to the posts made recently to participate in them as listed below.)
Once you find the top forums in your niche (based on traffic each of them gets …see Alexa, or simply see the number of members and posts in each forum)… then you need to selectively particpate in around 2 to 4 of them. This depends on how much time you have. you can later on branch out and visit the smaller forums – but not for now. Keep that for later. Just make sure you save all the URLs in a spreadsheet or text file, as you go about searching, and once you start joining them – open a new email account and save all logins for each forum etc in the spreadsheet / text file for reference.
Note : Make sure that you post and participate on relevant forums to your niche. DO NOT under any circumstance post on non-connected forums as it will be a waste of your time.
Making Your Signature
Everytime you write a post in a forum your signature appears below it – just like when you send email from Outlook Express. You can create this signature by logging in and going to your profile page on the forum.
Signatures are not spam. Almost all forums will allow you to put any message in your signature – which means you can put a link to your site or product and a brief text description of it too. Some forums allow you to add an image or a banner too – which you must do! Images make your signature stand out and people wont miss the banner this way. If you are creating a link – just make the anchor text catchy and the description short and sweet. Ofcourse your offering has to be in the same niche as the forum topic – and by being catchy you will get a high click through.
Keep your signature small and to a max of 3 lines. Ideally to 1 line only and one link only – atleast to start with.
Use the BBcode format of sprucing up text in your signature area if the forum allows this (most do). Its just a way of styling your text on forums, similar to HTML.
Use a simple free gif animation creator tool like Gifgear. If the forum allows you to add gif animation banners in your signature file – you must do so! Also, make sure to update your banner once every 2 weeks or so – to avoid banner burnout amongst regular community members.
Filling Up Other Profile Information
You must also fill out your name, location, age and hobbies. This builds credibility. You could disguise your real name and age etc., and input false data – if you do not want to reveal this data. This is your choice – so, if you are not comfortable with putting in incorrect data – then just leave these areas blank.
If the forum has graphical avatars – make sure you use an appropriate one. It should not be your picture, but any graphic that represents you. Search Google for them (search for “avatars”), or use one of the Avatars the forum provides. Avatars are catchy and attract eyeballs which can then move to your full signature or post. Use them! So, if you are in a gaming forum – you can search for an avatar on the Google resulting sites – that match you… that is, if you are an expert in playing say “Half Life” then search for this avatar! Having a funny, catchy avatars will make people click on your profile link to find about more about you.
Once other community members see this personal profile data – they will be more likely “accept you” into their community.
Getting Started With Your First Post
DO NOT START POSTING ON A FORUM BY BLATANTLY SELF PROMOTING! This will be considered as spam and you will quickly be banned from the forum. Start by contributing interesting and relevant knowledge by participating in relevant topics – where you have expertise and stuff to talk about and contribute. Post content – not spam! No self promotion!
Some Forum Tips
Ask Questions – Asking intelligent questions, is also one of the best ways to contribute to a discussion! You can ask questions on an already existing thread or start a new thread. Don;t just ask the question and forget about the thread. You must come back and read what other community members have said and thank them. See if your question has been fully answered and if you still have more doubts – ask again!!
Do not post Direct Affiliate Links – If you are marketing a third party product via an Affilaite system like ClickBank etc, most forums will chuck you out if you insert direct Affilaite Links into posts and signature files – so avoid this at all costs. Simply create a website or webpage which showcases the Affiliate product you are trying to market, and link to that page. That will not get you banned.
Topic Search and Posting – Search for threads and posts that have related content to your topic or blog post. Simply do a keyword search. Then see if this is a recent topic and only IF its recent enough should you participate in it by posting your comments. Some forum webmasters get cheesed off, if you make a comment post to a very old topic as it suddenly appears on the top of the list of forum threads after being burried under for a long time. Some webmasters do not like this as it results in very old posts re-surfacing once again and pushing down (and out) the newer posts.
Be Active – Once you start participating in a particular thread, you should come back to read responses often. Most forums allow you to subscribe to reply posts that are made in the future to the thread you just posted on. This works well if you dont have a habbit to regularly check back on the forum. you can find the threads you have participated in your Profile pages.
Catching More Attention – This is a grey hat technique. So, use it only if you are comfortable with it. If you start a new thread and want it to stay above in your category of threads … you could post a follow up comment immediately to it. Because the number of posts would immediatley be bumped up to “2” , this new thread would stay visible and higher up on the list of threads in the ategory for a longer time than it would have otherwise. What could this follow up thread post be? Well, you could just say….” Oh, I forgot to mention that blah blah blah…”. Sneaky eh?
Actively Helping Others – One of the best ways to gain credibility and traffic is to help other people. Lurk around the popular forum threads and help people with questions they may have. Make sure you have expertise in the domian you are helping in and write stuff that has value for the person seeking help and all others who would read the article. The last thing you want to do is post incorrect information – as this may result in other experienced community members mocking your post and you will lose credibility. Helping intelligently will go a long way and have a permananent impact as forum threads are permanently stored in forums and google search results.
Two Must Have Tools for every Forum Marketer
Here are a couple of tools that you absolutely must check out and make part of your Forum Marketing arselnal…
The Pawsoft Tool
This free tool can be found online at visit is pawsoft.com . The site and tool allows you to write your post using a simple WYSIWYG visual editor tool before you copy it and post it on the forum. It auto-generates all the BBcode for you – so you dont have to do learn the BBcode coding and tag format on the fourms. Its very easy to use, and one can use it to create signature files as well.
The Pawsoft online tool has a nifty “Post Generator” feature (manual and auto) – which will allow you to write a few lines of text and lead readers on to your full article on your website. Start playing around with the manual more of this tool. It looks very professional -and one should start using it only after around 2 weeks of active participation on a forum. If you start particpating on a forum by using this tool and starting to link to your site – you could be banned for spamming.
Here is a simple explanation of the fields you will need to enter in the Manual mode of the “Post Generator” feature / tab.
Comments: Put in a brief comment. This is what will be visible and read first by readers on the forum thread. Its your comment. It will appear in italics.
Headline: This is the title of the post.
News text: Grab a few lines (cut and paste) from the actual article or blog post that you are leading people on to and insert it here. It will appear in normal text, in a paragraph under your italicized comments from the above Comment text box.
News URL: This is the URL of the post / article that you are leading people to. When you post this info in this text box, the next 2 boxes – “source Name” and “Source URL”, will be filled in automatically.
Once you hit the Create button – it will show you a preview of the post, which will look something like this –
The article below shows you how to use Facebook to get traffic, in a no nonesense manner. I wrote it after experimenting with the “feeds” feature.
The main channel that one should use , which has the best reach, is the News and Mini Feeds. Use them cleverly along with the other channels and you can be assured that your product or service gets seen by your direct friends and their friends … potentially spreading your reach magnanimously far. Getting your message out to your friend’s friends (with a possibility of going even further), in basic mathematical terms means if you have 100 friends and on an average each of them have 50 friends – one single post on your news feed can reach out to 5000 people within seconds.
Note: You will get the 2 links above – “Source” and “View” to respectively each be linked to your main site and to the specific article.
Sloganizer is another nifty tool and website that allows you to create auto-rotating text ads for your brand, product or site. Once created you can post the code into your website or signature in a forum … and it will auto-rotate every 30 seconds or so, and serve a custom slogan with your main website name. This is not text – but a graphical banner.
You have full control of the color of the banner, and each individual text message unit – URL, message and anchor text can all be customized.
So, if you enter your URL, lets say Successonline.IN and then hit submit – it will create a random message for you in addition to your site name or URL and put this random catchy message into your gif banner that it creates on the fly. Whats cool – is that this random catchy message is rotated every thirty seconds, so you have a Fresh message for viewers – thereby multiplying your potential clicks and CTR – as banner burn-out is lowered with fresh auto-generated banner image content. Just make sure you change the URL in the code generated to point to your website or link and remove the sloganizer.net link. Its perfectly legal and allowed.
Keep all the tips above in mind while using forums to drive traffic to your site. Most importantly, watch experienced and regular community members closely and see what tricks they are each comign up with and using to promote their offerings and drive traffic and attention. Copy the strategies that seem to be repeated over and over again and that look interesting and worth a shot. Please feel free to comment on this post, and kindly share any tips and tricks with readers below.
Resouruce: For those in the Online Marketing niche – here is a list of Forums in the Online Marketing Forums niche.