The internet is awash with forums, both those specifically dedicated to novice and seasoned internet marketers and those that are niche-specific. Savvy internet marketers know that forums can be an ideal way of building a reputation, establishing expert status, and driving traffic to your Web site. Forums can be an extremely effective means of marketing your product, service, or Web site, if you know what you're doing. Your first step is to decide which forums to join. Internet marketing forums can be an excellent place to network with and learn from other internet marketers. Additionally, you may also find a new customer base on internet marketing forums.
Niche-specific forums are also an excellent way to gain expert status, to build a rapport with others interested in your niche, and to drive traffic to your niche Web site. Regardless of what type of forum you join, you'll have to follow a few basic rules. Most forums strictly prohibit blatant promotion of a Web site, a product, or a service. You never want to join a forum and start posting about how your product or service is the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Blatant promotion is likely to get you banned from a forum before you even get started. And, if you don't get banned, you certainly haven't gotten off to a great start and will have to work hard to heal your already tarnished reputation. (No one likes spammers, and that's exactly what you'll be considered.) You can generally use your signature line to promote your Web site, product, or service, but be certain to read the forum's Terms of Service (TOS) to determine if there are any particular rules to which you must adhere with your signature line.
For example, some forums do not allow affiliate links while others allow you only to post URLs to your own Web site or blog. Posting your Web site address in a signature line can prove extremely valuable, especially if you're posting on a popular forum. Search engines, like Google, often crawl popular forums and index posts. That means your posts will appear in the search engines, another extremely important reason you want to be as professional as possible when you chat in forums. When you first join a forum, read for a few days to get a feel for how things work and for the forum members: Who are the most popular and those whose opinions seem to be trusted the most? Once you've acclimated yourself to the forum, start posting. Avoid simple, and what are often considered useless, one line posts that say something like "Good idea" or just posting a smile icon.
Rather, make sure posts are valuable. When you offer value to a forum, you establish yourself as both a valuable member of the community and as an expert in your niche. But, don't just post a few times to the forum then disappear. Visit the forum consistently, so you can begin to build relationships. Becoming a trusted, valued member of the community will help you to drive more traffic to your Web site and to allow you to network with others.
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