I have been participating in various discussion forums for a fairly long time, all of the forums are within the Internet marketing niche and I’m still active.
Two reasons why I’m still a member
There are two reasons why I joined and they are still the reasons why I continue to be an active member.
First, when you’re a member of any community (and a discussion forum is a community) you add value and you receive value. If you ask questions, you get answers. The members are helping each other, and it’s a great way to feel that you’re part of something, and you’re not alone. It’s like having many mentors. Second, when you’re a member you believe that you can drive traffic to your website (and convert the traffic into regular readers or customers).
I believe that the biggest problem with discussion forums is that they can be a waste of time. You can spend hours every day without getting any of the results you’re looking for. When it comes to traffic, you can get a lot more by adding the perfect signature for discussion forums, but that’s only part of the solution.
This doesn’t work
Usually when ever I start a new thread at any of the discussion forums I have no problem receiving many responses, but I have two interesting examples when I didn’t get fast response and not the results I was looking for.
The first one was when I asked “how to promote a profession?” This was it.
I’d really like some advice on the topic “how to market a profession.”
For instance, at a hospital there are several professions, like nursing and hospital administrators.
How would you promote a healthcare profession like nursing or hospital administrators at a hospital (and to the public).
I did receive some feedback, but nothing I can use.
The second example was when I asked for a “keyword research tool for different languages?” This was it.
Do you know if there are any keyword research tools that you can use to search for keywords in different languages other than english (I’m especially looking for Norwegian)?
So far, I haven’t received any feedback on this last thread (I have done some research myself and both Micro Niche Finder and Market Samurai provides keyword research in different languages including Norwegian).
The reasons why it didn’t work
I believe that the there are at least two reasons why the examples above didn’t work. First, if you’re going to respond you need to have a lot of knowledge of this particular topic. If the topic is very specific, not many members might have this knowledge. Second, it takes too much time. Many people who are using discussion forums are using it only because they need traffic (and they need it fast). If you’re going to answer my two examples above, you might need to think for a while and then you would need to write more than one sentence. A lot of the discussions consists of few words (one sentence replacing another sentence from another member).
I will still do it
I have started many threads that didn’t provide me with the results that I wanted, and in the future I’ll start a lot of similar threads. The reason is probably obvious; I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It might take me a little extra time, but if I get a great answer to my question, it can save me a lot of time and problems.
Every time I have a question about Internet marketing, I start a new thread at a discussion forum. It’s free, and usually it’s even faster than twitter.
How you should use them
If you post a lot, people will notice you. You should be active, because it builds trust and it helps you become part of the community. You’ll end up with friends and business partners. It’s about networking.
You should add value to every single thread. If you’re just active, but have very little to say, people will ignore you and you’ll end up being invisible.
Write as little as possible. You should be straight to the point, don’t use more words than you need to prove your point or ask your question. People are in a hurry, they always are, and they lose interest fast. If you don’t provide value or ask your question with just a few words, people won’t read it (at least not all of it) unless you’re already famous (and people trust you).
Everything you do should be free. Don’t promote your products (only in the signature). Always provide free information, even though people ask questions about the best product you ever bought, just write about your experience with it and don’t say that they can buy it from you. If you start focusing on selling the traditional way you’ll be lost in the forums. Your free and valuable tips will do it for you and your signature will provide you with the readers and customers.
This works for me, now, what works for you?