A lot of you might be scratching your head at this new-fangled word: Forum. Just think of a forum as an "online discussion site" where people essentially gather to talk about a specific topics, such as "General Discussion" or "Political Debate" or "Which Cartoon Character Has The Best Tits?" [Answer: Lois Griffin]
Due to the anonymity graciously given to us by the internet, people have been known to sit behind their computer screen in the darkness of their parents' basement just to troll and make fun of people online, thus making forums Ground Zero for the art known as cyber-bullying.
Aside from posting threatening messages about beating your online adversary with a spiked baseball bat, forums can be used for legitimate business purposes, and to help spread the purpose of your site to like-minded people who will, in turn, visit your blog.
Reasons to Join a Forum
Here's just a brief overview:
- Relationships: A lot of forums are large communities with a lot of good personal interaction between users. Many of those users are willing to help with any advice and constructive criticism.
- Personal Branding: Posting online in front of a massive collection of people will quickly build your brand (an essential part of business). For instance, my brand is a functioning alcoholic who likes to write humorous posts.
- Collaborate Ideas: Forums will give you a lot of new knowledge and potentially help with new ideas. Forums are full of questions from beginners on a specific topic. If those topics match yours, grab these questions and answer them on your blog. You'll quickly be viewed as an authority on your specific topic.
- Readership: Forums are heavily populated and have a shitload of free traffic sitting right there for the taking. A well read forum can have tens (and hundreds) of thousands of readers. A well placed link back to your blog with purpose can have serious impact on your incoming traffic.
To find a forum specific to your niche it’s usually as simple as searching Google for "[insert your topic] forum" (try a few of your main keywords).
Seven Rules of Forum Etiquette
Most forums frown upon you uploading pictures of you helicoptering your dick around the room. Notice I said "most"; the internet is a big place. All forums, however, will have specific rules that you need to follow while posting on their site. Here's a list of generally acceptable practices, etiquette, and tips for when you're participating:
- Let your reputation grow: You should be adding value to the forum over time with helpful posts. People will want to know more about you and will either check out your profile page (make sure you have a link to your site!) or they will send a Private message.
- Know the forum’s culture: Like I mentioned before: every forum is different. Don't go rushing in promoting your blog until you get a feel for the overall forum culture. Some forums allow more Spam than a Hawaiian breakfast, while others only accept a mild spattering of it.
- Make strategic friends: Forums are like prisons in the sense that they will have members that are more connected and powerful than other members. Key difference is you won't have to give a blowjob to get on their good side (at least not on most forums). I’m not suggesting you make friends just to manipulate them I think it can be smart to be in contact with key players, but the more people you know on there, the better chance you have of them posting your links around.
- Suggest links to answer a question: If you've already written about a topic and believe a link to it would be helpful and relevant to the discussion, then post a link to your site.
- Add a link to your blog in your signature: Make sure this is prominent and stands out, but don't go too over the top.
- Private Message people when appropriate: Again, don't Spam. But if you have a serious question that someone specific could help you answer or you just want to thank a person for a post they submitted, go ahead and send them a
seductivemessage. This goes back to #3.
- Break news and link: If you come across breaking news and you post about it on your blog before anyone in the forum writes about it then this is often a good opportunity to drive traffic your way. Similarly rumor posts can do quite well in some forums since this is America.
The level to which you can actively promote your blog will vary depending on the specific forum you've joined. For me it’s more of a long-term reputation-building exercise than a quick traffic builder.