Join Matt Bailey for an in-depth discussion in this video Second-tier channels: Discussion forums, part of Building an Integrated Online Marketing Plan (2013).
Moving on through additional media through which you can promote your company and utilize social media to focus on finding the right marketing niche. Let's look at discussion forums see discussion forums are a great way of finding niche content. And people that love that niche content. You can find a discussion forum about just about anything. You can find people that love Chevy cars. And not just Chevy cars, you can find forums about specific models of cars, dogs, search engine technology, music, horses, and really, shaving. I'm amazed at the amount of forms that are out there, and the amount of information that people are drawn to for a specific hobby or interest. Just to give you an idea of what's going on here. This is a Badger & Blade, the shaving discussion forum. And so when looking at this forum, the first box tells you the stats. How many people are using this forum? There are over 30,000 members having over 150,000 discussions.
And in the next box, it'll show you that when this screenshot was taken, that there were over 470 people on the forum at that time. 203 of those 473 people were members, registered members. However, there were more guests then there were members. So, even though it will say that there are 30,000 members you can bet that there are more people then 30,000 on the site. Because when this screen shot was taken there were more guests than there were members.
You see, people can view the information on a discussion forum. They can read the conversations that are taking place without being a member. Most forums are wide open and in fact most people will find a forum, if they are searching for something that's very particular. And very specific to a hobby, or an interest, we call those people lurkers. Because those are people that lurk in the forum looking for information. And maybe they come back frequently reading the discussions that are taking lace, finding more information. And rarely taking part in the discussion.
Because you would have to register on the forum, in order to be a part of the discussion. As a result, a lot of recommendations take place on discussion forums. On one forum where I'm a member, we talk about cars and car parts, and, how to, fix certain things that are going on in the cars. And, the recommendations that take place, are on almost every discussion. On where someone bought a specific part, where a resource might be, where an instructional video can be found, people love to help people.
And that's what discussion forums are all about. Usually they're run by someone who has a passion for the subject and they built the forum years ago, or, maybe just recently. And they attract other like minded people that want to know more and are also want to help others in their passion for this hobby or this interest. And as a result, you've got thousands of people with the same interests that want to help each other. And so as a business, this is a treasure trove of knowledge.
You can learn what people like, what they don't like, the information that they direct people to, and the discussion that goes on within your market. And so, when we talk about discussion forums, there is a significant amount of people online that use discussion forums. At least 35% of online users are members of at least one forum and actively post to those forums. And when you find a forum of information that you are passionate about it is a high value resource, one that you will return to often.
But also it becomes a resource for people who don;t want to register or be part of a conversation, but just see the information that's there. Now expert status on forums is not based on really what you have accomplished or your resume. Expert status is usually assigned based on how many discussions your apart of and how much you contribute. And the more you contribute, the higher your status goes. And so expert status isn't usually based on so much your knowledge level, but it's based on your helpfulness. It's based on how much you post and help others and how active you are in the forum.
Ultimately, all of this information, all of these postings, all of these outgoing links to resources assist with search-engine visibility. Which is one of the reasons discussion forums do so well in search engines. And why they attract so many visitors and lurkers, because its a source of information especially for targeted search phrases. That are hard to find in many other places. Maybe other people aren't talking about them.
But discussion forums are great places to learn about your users, what they're doing, and maybe integrate with them. If you do decide as a business to use discussion forums as a way to interact with people, read the rules. Because there are always rules posted for how brands can interact online. Some of those rules are very strict, some are very lenient. But ultimately what they all have in common Is that you are not allowed as a company or as a brand to come in and actively market yourself.
If you come in as a resource and provide helpful guidance and maybe do a little bit of customer service, that might be welcome. But ultimately, as a brand they want you to take a backseat and participate where needed. So as a brand, discussion forums are open for you to learn. But read the rules when it comes to how they want you to interact and work with the other people and discussions happening online.
- Assessing your resources and budget
- Developing your brand's narrative
- Avoiding mixing mediums
- Marketing via search, email, and blog posts
- Reaching fans on social media
- Integrating video
- Researching the market
- Publishing content
- Reviewing your success