You’ve got your SEO strategy covered, your website’s up to scratch, your paid campaigns are in full swing AND your social feeds exhibit content that is fun, relevant and branded. What more could you possibly be doing to lift your digital performance? Well, here’s a little secret: with the ever-growing popularity of user-generated online communities the likes of Quora and Reddit, forum marketing has become the ultimate way to build a first-hand connection with your audience.
It’s simple if you think about it: the core goal of digital marketing is getting the right message to the right audience, and finding the right communication channels is therefore absolutely essential. On forums, people – albeit anonymously – hang out to discuss a host of topics including extremely personal subject matters as well as the humdrum of everyday life. Not only does this mean there will undoubtedly be threads relevant to your brand, but it will also provide you with plenty of information about the interests of users, allowing you to gauge whether they fit into your target audience or not. Useful!
So how does forum marketing work, and how do you go about building a presence? This article will take you through all the essentials.
How it works
First, let’s take a look at some of the key reasons forum marketing is worthwhile. If you think any of these could benefit your brand, you better jump on the bandwagon:
1.It’s a traffic driver.
The World Wide Web is competitive, and driving people to your website can be a tough challenge. Building a presence on popular internet forums will allow you to speak to an audience that you know is likely to be interested in your services and by actively engaging with them, linking to your website is bound to drive some good traffic. In addition, your answers, comments and replies to questions are likely to appear in organic search engine results, which will significantly contribute to your long-term SEO.
Caption: Ashton Kutcher, actor + investor & advisor to start-ups, has built a huge Quora presence over the years. Here he answers a widely praised answer to the question “How do you decide on a name when you want to start a company?”
2. It’s a great way of building thought leadership.
Engaging with online forums will allow you to share your expert knowledge, ultimately leading to a stronger online reputation through which people will start really valuing your insights – and with that, your company’s services.
3. It will help you raise brand awareness.
One of the hardest things to do when launching a new brand or product is making people know about it. Naturally interacting with forum users will – once you’ve established solid relationships – allow you to talk about your brand and services amongst an audience that’s already listening.
Caption: Quora users talking about the skin care products they like the most.
4. It will let you join the conversation (and learn about your audience).
Think market research, but without knowing – and thus more naturally behaving – participants. Joining conversations on whatever topic relevant to your company will provide you with valuable insights into what your target audience likes and doesn’t like.
5. It’s a customer service channel.
As users often talk about the services that they use, forums are also great for keeping track of and respond to positive and negative feedback on your products and services.
Where to start
Now that you know why you should be on online forums, it’s time to start looking into which platforms suit your company best. The options are endless, but regardless of the industry you’re working in, Quora and Reddit are great places to start. They both have a global and very active user base, offering a wealth of interesting discussions to join and thousands of users to build a meaningful relationship with. Now let’s take a look at some of the basic rules of each of these online communities.
Calling itself the ‘the front page of the Internet’, Reddit is an incredibly popular social news aggregation and discussion website. Reaching a status of fame here is not easy, and, close-knit as they are, Redditors are particularly critical to newbies. However, if you play by the following rules, they will eventually welcome you with open arms:
- Be honest, modest, transparent, and avoid shouting your brand name too loudly. Redditors have a real nose for marketers and once they find out you’re only there for the purpose of promoting your services, you’re done for.
- Don’t just post for the sake of posting, but interact, respond, upvote, and answer questions to show that you’re willing to give to the community. Users that only submit links to their own websites and don’t do much else are seen as spam and can on that basis be banned by moderators.
In addition to obeying these rules, what should you be doing to turn your reddit engagement into a proper success? First of all, you want to be joining and targeting specific subreddits (categories) to reach niche audiences. Then, actively participating will teach you about the type of content that works and doesn’t work. Lastly, it’s important to give yourself some time. Building a presence in a community this tight isn’t something that happens overnight, but trust us, it will pay off eventually!
Quora is a question-and-answer website attaching great value to the quality of content. It’s where people go to share their own knowledge while also learning from others, and unsurprisingly, it’s become quite the platform for thought leaders, business owners and celebrities. How can this benefit your business?
- First off, answering questions relevant to your business will immediately give you a degree of expertise and help you become a thought leader in your industry. Keeping this up will ultimately make people ask you questions directly and the more answers you provide, the more valuable your profile will become. It’s an excellent way of building up a good reputation and authority.
- The Quora community is widespread and full of dedicated users who trust it as a reliable source of information. This means that your audience is already listening to you, and it also offers you the opportunity to engage with your audience in a natural way.
- As Quora holds a real name policy – meaning that users have to be real and not made up or speaking for an organisation – it’s a great opportunity to show people the person behind your company. In addition to making your brand more personal, this will allow you to show the expertise and knowledge going into your business.
Creating quality content: answers on Quora are thought through and well written, and sticking to that standard will help users appreciate you more. First of all, it’s important that you tell a story that engages – no matter what the subject. Second, it really helps to use imagery as this will make your answer much more readable and visually enticing. Thirdly, it’s a good idea to not give everything away at once. If you’re on Quora to drive traffic to your website, make sure that your answer leaves users craving for more. And lastly, always try to create as much value as you possibly can. Quorans are obsessed with quality, and only answers that are seen as truly helpful will ever receive an upvote.
And there you have it: our (not so) quick guide to forum marketing. What do you think? Are you ready to make the jump? All we can say is do it now, before you have the whole world to compete with!