Posting on forums, online groups and online communities can be a great way to generate free traffic to your website. Members of these forums (who’ve seen your posts) will often already be pre-sold by the time they land on your website. Many top personal brands got their start from reputations built in online forums.
So, how do you use forum and group marketing to build traffic?
Find the Right Group or Forum
For starters, make sure you’re putting your time and energy into the right forums. Look for forums that have a lot of activity. It should have at least 2,000 members and 20,000 posts. Look for the biggest forum in your industry. That’s a good place to start.
In addition, it may be a good idea to post in a lower traffic but more “buyer heavy” forum. For example, let’s say you own a web hosting company. You’ll want to have a presence in the big online business forums. But you’ll also want to have a presence in smaller forums dedicated just to web hosting. Both are important.
In addition to industry specific forums, look for groups on LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn groups are fantastic for freelancers, speakers and other service businesses. The right Facebook groups can also be a great resource and a great source of traffic.
Once you’ve found the right forums and groups, the next step is to …
Focus on Your Reputation
A lot of forum marketers try to focus on raw traffic generated. In the beginning, this is not a good indicator of success. Typically, people on forums are rather skeptical. They can be fantastic customers in the long run, but in the short run they’re unlikely to click on links. They’ve seen too many scams and too many spammers.
Instead, focus on adding value and solving problems. Share your knowledge. Answer questions. Build your reputation. Position yourself as an expert. Then, the selling will become easy.
Write Detailed, Experience-Based Posts
Most posts people write on forums tends to be shallow posts. It might be a couple paragraphs long, or a short question. That said, when someone does post high quality content backed by personal experience, they tend to do very well.
Writing for forum readers is different from writing for websites. It should be personal and shared from a first person perspective. Don’t write a traditional how-to in a teaching tone. Instead, write from a “sharing my story” or “here’s what I discovered” point of view. Don’t be afraid to write and share long content.
Getting Traffic to Your Website
Once you start building a reputation, it’s time to start linking back to your website. The easiest place to link to your website is from your signature or your byline. People who like your post are likely to click on your signature and go to your site.
You can also look for specific sections in the forum for promotions. Many forums have one specific area for people to post promos. Once you have a reputation, the posts you make here can do really well.
Finally, leverage your connections. Once you have a reputation, people will be very open to you when you reach out. Reach out to website owners for deals, list owners for mailings and blog owners for guest blogging opportunities. Forum marketing isn’t limited to direct clicks – often the connections you can leverage will be an even more powerful source of traffic.
May I suggest that you Join a few high quality, high traffic forums or groups within your industry. Regularly contribute helpful, valuable information based on your experiences. Work on making connections with other members and find ways to leverage those connections to help you increase your traffic.