Online Networking: Discussion Forums
Use Discussion Forums to Build Your Reputation
Discussion forums have been around a long time – so long that they may be overlooked for their power in connecting and networking. So first a little review on discussion forum terms and structure:
- A discussion forum or message board, is an online discussion site where visitors hold conversations via posted messages that are archived for weeks or even years depending on the site.
- Forums have a hierarchical structure organized around several topics and subtopics.
- Within each topic/sub-topic, each new discussion is called a thread.
- Participants can comment on each thread, either addressing the question at hand or adding additional questions.
Effective use of discussion forums involves a few simple steps:
Pick relevant discussion forums. These are places where your target customers are likely to visit and have a good reputation for a good size community and solid content. Read over several threads to get a feel for the participants and decide on a few to start.
Demonstrate your expertise and commitment to solving customer problems by giving helpful responses. Direct selling and overt product pitches are generally frowned upon (and often blocked by the moderator). However, mention of how your product/service fixed the problem at hand is a great way to weave in your expertise.
- Link back to additional information (articles, blog posts) on your website. You’ll drive traffic – and get some SEO benefits.