I remember during the 2002-2005 internet marketing era, forums were a must have to create a “buzz” and keep your visitors coming back for more and more. However end 2005 blogs came in and good old days of forums took a back seat. But the fact is even today forums are not dead. Some websites still have it. Some examples:
It is evident that forums are not dead, though they are not so popular as they were a few years back.
Just for your information, the big hit today in internet marketing is Social Networking. Though in my experience social networking is good for branding but not for direct sales.
Anyways coming back to forums.
The battle for eyeballs is indeed a very big challenge when it comes to websites. When you have a website, it’s quite understandable that you would like to reach out to the maximum number of people in the online world with news and views that could interest them. Unless you have an extremely topical or interest specific portal, the general idea is to make your portal or blog so attractive that it generates fairly high traffic. You could feel that you have the best portal but if it’s not getting any hits, the whole purpose of the website would be defeated immediately.
Among others, forums can be a useful and effective way of directing traffic to your site or blog. Forums are generally an online community of users who log into or are registered with a website and then choose to subscribe to the online forum or discussion board as it is sometimes also known by. Forums could be quite topical, or interest and hobby based. For instance, if you are on a church portal, you could have forums dedicated to charity, online counseling, and matrimonial forums to name a few.
Once you are listed on a forum, the idea is to gain the confidence of the existing forum members and establish yourself as a credible member. Knowledge is power and if you take the trouble to make your knowledge known to others, people will be interested in interacting with you. This in turn will increase the chances of their visiting your website. For instance, if you are on a forum of mushroom growers, you can answer forum member’s queries on mushrooms and gain the respect of listed members. In time, you could guide them to your website or blog on mushroom cultivation, thereby increasing the traffic to your site.
If you start a Yahoo Group, you have the option of placing the URL link of your site at the end so that interested members can visit your site. As the moderator of a forum, you have some unique privileges as it gives you a head start in terms of your credibility and acceptance by other forum members. Your opinion carries weight and you do wield some power over the proceedings and direction of the forum. This always increases the chances of forum members looking up to you and referring to your website for details. Obviously, this also depends on the level of skill and dexterity with which you can do the job of forum moderation.
Another technique is to drum up interest and enliven the proceedings on the forum by starting debates, posing questions and increasing interaction. Debates need not be acrimonious or nasty. If you can maintain a healthy and knowledge based debate, it would increase your online stature and prompt more people to use the link to your website, thereby increasing site traffic. Sometimes, webmasters can also include links to your site, which in turn will increase its online reach and popularity.
You can even drop links to your website in some forum interactions. For instance, when you are answering some member’s query, you can include a line, “For more details, please visit www.xyz.com” where you can place the link of your website. Based on the interest and the credibility you inspire, you can expect increased traffic to your site.
Don’t forget the free valuable content you get on your website. Members ask questions and members reply them. This is indexed by the search engines. Then when someone asks the same or similar questions the search engines direct the visitors to these pages. Thus creating more visitors, more members and in turn more free content.
In other words, forums can be a useful ally in helping your website win the online battle for eyeballs.
Does your website have forums? If yes what benefits you got from it?