Online forums are effective marketing tools.

Posting on online forums is cheap, easy and can drive plenty of traffic to affiliate partner sites. Although forums have been around practically since the dawn of the World Wide Web, many publishers still don’t understand the rules for using them effectively.

Promoting content through forums requires a delicate touch. But when it’s done correctly it can build your reputation at as an expert in the field, drive traffic, and build valuable link networks. Here’s how to post up the right way.

Respect the Forum

Visit any really active online forum and you’re going to run into a deeply connected community of posters. Many forum posters have been hanging around the same sites for years and are very protective of their turf. Keep content promotion discrete and relevant to the forum or you risk setting off some very negative reactions.

Gaming forums are littered with dead threads started by ham-fisted self promoters posting blatant advertising gimmicks. No one comes to a forum to see advertisements, they come to find something of value. There’s nothing wrong with linking to relevant content on your site from a forum posting. Just be certain to include a short blurb to give readers a taste of what the article is like.

Be Active Without Promoting

Affiliates looking to add forum posting to their bag of marketing tricks need to take a big picture approach. That means becoming an active part of the forum without promoting your own own content. Answer lots of questions, comment on other postings, write about content from other sites. Just be certain that you’ve read and understood the site’s forum policies before getting too far along.

A daily poster on a sport betting community is in better shape to promote their own material than someone who shows up out of the blue and just starts selling.  Remember, company name and link are going to be on every post anyways, so there’s no need to over promote and damage your brand.

Avoid Flame Wars

Online flame wars, or arguments, are a big part of many online forums. There’s no shortage of trolls on the Internet instigating trouble and provoking conflict for no good reason. It’s best to avoid conflict on forums because it’s not good for your business.

Remember, anonymity is a big attraction for many forum posters, but that’s not the situation for affiliates. When you’re posting online you’re representing your company and not hiding behind a fake name or avatar. Avoid engaging in pointless flame wars; you won’t win and it’s bad for your brand.

Become an Expert

Online communities and forums are great places to establish your reputation as an expert in your field. Don’t be shy about answering, and asking, questions about your field. That’s a perfectly legitimate use of the forum and an excellent means of self-promotion.

SEO Value

Selecting the right forums to post can be an important component of a big picture SEO strategy. Remember, because they’ve been around so long, many online communities and forums are considered authority sites in the eyes of those powerful Google algorithms. The more links you’ve got going between your content and authority sites, the better off you’ll be.

Finally

When approached correctly, online forums can drive a lot of traffic to your web properties. Just remember to keep your promotions discrete and on-topic and you’ll see positive results.

Are online forums part of your marketing strategy? Let us in (where else?) the CAP Forums.


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