by Jessica Malnik | Featured Contributor
When it comes to building an integrated social media strategy, most people are quick to jump on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. However, there’s another medium that can be just as lucrative, if not more so. That’s online forums.
In many industries, there are more conversations taking place in forums than on Facebook and Twitter. In fact according to Jason Falls, 90 percent of the conversations about banking take place on forums.
Admittedly, forums can be an intimidating environment. You won’t get far just “pushing” your messages out to the most people on online forums. (In reality, this rarely works on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s for another post). That’s just a recipe for getting negative feedback and/or being blocked by the forum moderators for spamming. Instead, the best strategies are to choose a couple of targeted forums and become engrained in them as the go-to resource.
Here’s three tactics for how to use forums to supercharge your brand.
Finding The Right Forums To Engage In
Before you can start listening and posting, you first need to find some forums to “engage” in. From online gaming to breast cancer survivor groups, there’s literally an online forum for just about any topic or industry. Because of the sheer number of online communities and forums, finding the right forum(s) to engage in can be a bit of a challenge. To make this a little easier, I recommend using a forum-specific search engine like BoardReader. In addition, you can also search Ning, Facebook Groups and of course Reddit, as they all have strong sub-communities for many topics.
Active Community Building
Contrary to what many may think, a fairly large number of people are still uncomfortable sharing a lot of information about themselves on social media sites. However, they will share a lot more information in private forums, as they tend to be smaller, more tight-knit and conversational. This provides that sense of security and community feel that allows people to be more open.
Once you gain people’s trust, this can be a great place to engage in active listening about your target audience as well as find and build relationships with key influencers.
Fantastic Educational Resources
Forums have always been a great way to disseminate information and resources. This only expands when you get forum participants asking questions, answering other people’s questions, and providing their own tips and tricks. This can become a fantastic place to create and share how-to tips, guides as well as answer support questions.
Whether you are just starting to research online forums, building relationships with key influencers or educating your prospects and customers, the ways you can use online forums are nearly endless.
Jessica Malnik is a community builder, content creator and an avid blogger. She blogs regularly on her own blog, jessicamalnik.com. Her blog focuses on community management, social media, PR and a little bit of marketing.
Her work has been featured in a variety of online sites and publications, including Convince and Convert, PR Daily, Spin Sucks, SocialFresh, 12Most and TheCommunityManager.com