Forums are one of the oldest forms of social networking on the internet and are a great way for like minded people to share thoughts and ideas on particular topics. There are forums on pretty much everything you can think of - simply try typing a random topic and the word "forum" into your search engine and you will probably find several. Some are obviously more established and active than others, but however diverse social networking has become it would appear that forums are here to stay and continue to contain a wealth of useful information about a range of subjects.
Forums are also a great way for people to market a product or promote a website to a targetted group of individuals specifically looking for information. Most forums allow you to put a link into your "signature" at the bottom of each post you make, thereby exposing your link to a large group of people. However, to do this effectively requires treading a fine line between making yourself and your offer visible, or being considered a spammer, upsetting the forum community and possibly being banned. In order to help you along the way of treading this fine line, here are my golden rules which should be followed at all times:
- Read the rules of the forum very carefully. These vary hugely with some allowing linking directly to affiliate links, some only allowing linking to your own sites and some do not allow linking at all. Read and digest the rules and make sure you stick to them.
- Make your signature obvious, but not too obvious. If the forum allows, use a message that catches people's attention, use bold and color to make your link stand out. However, you will need to guage from the forum that you are using how obvious to make it. Have a good look around the forum and at other people's signatures and get an idea what appears to be considered acceptable.
- Participate in the forum in a useful way. The object here is not put out lots of buying messages out there, this is counter productive and will probably get you banned. What you need to do is demonstrate your expertise in the given subject - start new threads, reply to existing threads. Demonstrate that you can be helpful to other members. As you gain respect and visibility in the forum they are more likely to click on your link and, if it points to a product, buy from you.
- Post often, but don't try to dominate the forum. Overdoing it will irritate existing members and will just suggest you are trying to take over.
- Don't spam other members. Don't PM other members with messages of "come visit my site" or "buy my product", because they probably won't and you only end up irritating people.