Back in the day, whenever that was, we used to call forum marketing a type of ‘bum marketing’. But I was never too keen on that name. It implies a blogger is desperate and destitute.
So as part of my 30 Day Traffic Challenge I decided to return to forum marketing and see if it still works.
I’ve re-discovered that it’s a smart strategy, if you do it right.
That’s because there are bigger things at play here, and there’s a much better reason to embrace it than just sending a trickle of web visitors to your blog.
There’s an opportunity to build relationships that can be mutually beneficial, later down the road.
Obviously having a passion for your blog topic is important, but more so when you’re networking on forums and marketing yourself as a high value contributor.
Read that again: Forum marketing all starts with marketing yourself first and not your blog.
Here are my results from this experiment:
Now, if you’re an introvert like me (yeah, really), then you’ll find the idea of taking about yourself a little intimidating, but I have a shortcut.
If you’re blogging about blue widgets, or whatever, instead of talking about yourself, just talk about blue widgets. Give advice to newbies who want to learn more, share what you’ve learned, put all the focus on helping people.
That’s just a cool thing to do, anyway.
But how do you get traffic from forums?
Obviously you can’t just go around spamming your link everywhere, you gotta be less aggressive.
So put your URL inside your forum signature.
Sure, some people might click on it, if they like your posts. But we wanna make sure we get maximum results here.
That’s why instead of just a website address, you’re gonna write a blistering-hot headline.
Forget about choosing the keywords.
Whaaaaa? But… but… all the SEO guru’s say…
Forget about SEO. Yup, none of that matters right now.
The other day I heard someone say “Google only loves you once everybody else does” – and I think it’s true.
So we’re not trying to cater to search engines, we’re only interested in attracting the right kind of people. And to do that, your signature headline must trigger an emotional reaction.
You’re going to provoke people into clicking it. But that doesn’t mean being offensive or rude.
It means you have to know EXACTLY what your audience wants.
When you know what that is, make sure you know how to give it to them. For extra points, let them know that you can help them get it in a new, easier, or quicker than anybody else.
Spend some time working on your signature copy and treat it like any other headline.
But how do you find forums to get involved with?
Remember I told you about boolean search strings on this post? Well, we’re gonna use different ones this time.
Again, you’ve gotta replace ‘blue widget’ with your blog topic, and in this first example we’re going to search for vBulletin forums:
inurl: blue widget boards intext: “powered by vbulletin”
And to search for forums running on Simple Machines Forum software:
inurl: blue widget boards intext: “powered by smf”
Or we could switch ‘boards’ for ‘forum’ and find even more:
inurl: blue widget forum intext: “powered by vbulletin”
inurl: blue widget forum intext: “powered by smf”
You can also take these further, and swap the name of the forum software. vBulletin and Simple Machines Forum are obviously the biggest because they’re among the oldest.
But other popular forum software includes:
- IP Board
- Vanilla Forums
Armed with just a handful of boolean search strings you can find and get involved with amazing communities, that welcome your knowledge and your passion.
From your very first post, make it your mission to add value to the forum and to build new relationships. Because let’s face it, getting an extra 100 people a day is ok… but it’s not gonna set your world on fire. The key is to find likeminded people who share your passion and find value in your message.