Forums have been around since the dawn of the Internet, and you can leverage them and their active and loyal followers to drive more traffic to your website and blog. Forums are ripe for driving targeted traffic, but you’ll need keep a few simple things in mind when using forums as part of your traffic-driving strategy:
Pick the Right Forum
Look for popular forums that cater to your niche or vertical. Consider forums where there is a large and active group of members Be sure you like the tone of the forum and the nature of the discussions. You don’t want to get into flame wars and negative conversations. Look for a positive vibe and people willing to share information. Focus on a just a few forums (maybe 1 or 2) where you can be an active member for an ongoing basis. Be sure the forums allow you to include a signature, so that you can add your URL. Otherwise, you’ll have trouble driving traffic to your website or blog.
Select the Right Username
Your username will be how other members identify you (and your brand). Think about the message you want your username to send. Using your name as a username gives your interactions a more personal feel than if you just used the name of your blog or business. But you can try for combination of both. For example JoeSmithHotelGuy. It’s important that your username fits in with your niche and the feel of the forum – whether it’s casual or very professional.
Add a Link in Your Signature
Your signature will appear below each one of your forum posts. Putting a link to your blog or website is the backbone of any solid forum-based traffic strategy. Depending on the forum’s signature limits, you may be able to also include a tagline or description of your website or a link to a newsletter sign-up page in your signature.
Carefully Craft Your Profile
Be sure to include an avatar (or photo of yourself), a short but descriptive bio, and another link to your website or blog. Remember, you want other members to know they are interacting with a real person and not just a business. Don’t be afraid to include some personal info (you love bull dogs, or are an avid hiker or write science fiction on the side). This information makes you seems less one-dimensional and gives others more reasons to interact with you. If there’s space, include links to your social media – like your Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram and LinkedIn – and invite members to connect with you there as well.
Skip the Spammy Behavior
Use the same social etiquette and manners as you would when interacting in person. You probably don’t meet someone at a party and shove a business card in their hand or drone on about your company the minute you meet people. Get to know people. Be helpful first. Then once you’ve established yourself in the group, you can start including some information about your business into your discussions.
Be a Helpful Resource
Provide clear, well-thought-out, informative, helpful replies. Link to other resources both inside the forum and elsewhere online. The idea is to add value. If you’ve written a post on your blog that might be helpful, you can summarize it, then add something like, “if you want to know more, I have a blog post on this topic”, And then include a link to drive members to your blog or website.
Start a Thread/Be First
If someone opens up a thread, they are obviously going to read the first post in the thread. The first post in a thread gets read more than any other, so being in that position is a great way to leverage your forum posting. You can ask a question or solicit others opinions on a subject. It’s a great way to get noticed and create interaction.
Remember this isn’t a sprint. You can’t just post for a month, stop, and expect traffic. Your posts will eventually be pushed down and replaced by new threads and additional comments. You have to devote the time and effort and maintain a presence for the long haul.
If you follow these few simple steps, you will likely notice (over time) some additional web traffic. You will also likely make some new contacts, establish yourself as a helpful expert, and probably learn from other members along the way. Its a win-win!