In the past, marketers used to rely on TV commercials, magazine spreads, and billboards to drive consumer engagement and conversion. However, with the rise of the digital economy and social media, online forums have emerged as a potentially powerful new marketing tool.
The advantages of these platforms are endless. You can engage with potential customers and create lifelong relationships through honest and interactive dialogue.
The key is to understand how to best use these tools to drive engagement and ultimately revenue. In this article, we’ll discuss some essentials for using online forums as part of a marketing plan.
Understand The Demographics And Psychographics Of The Audience
First of all, it is essential to understand the demographics and psychographics of your target audience. This will help you determine the best platform for engaging with this particular audience and whether you should opt for a branded platform or a general purpose one.
When choosing a forum platform, you should consider whether you should go with a general or a specific purpose platform. A general purpose forum like Reddit allows marketers to engage with anyone. However, if you are looking to target a more specific audience, you should go with a branded forum such as HubSpot’s Community Server. The demographic information that you can get from this platform includes gender, age, location, and interests. You can also get information on how users interact with content, whether that’s through comments or votes. This type of data can help you make better judgments about user behavior and tailor your content accordingly.
Create An Internal Community
The first step to effectively using an online forum is to establish an internal community. This means that you should not only use the platform to engage with customers but also invite your own team members to join the conversation. Doing this can help you get the best out of the platform and establish deeper ties with your team members.
To create an internal community, you should follow the same guidelines that you would for a social media platform. You can use keywords in your profile name, set up notifications, and engage with users on a regular basis. Once you have established an internal community on your forum, you can start using the platform to engage with customers and grow your business. This is especially important if you are looking to grow your business through repeat visitors and referrals.
Find Your Medium
The second step in effective forum use is to find your medium. This step is important because you want to find a way to engage with your audience that will stick out from your competitors. You should look for a medium that is both effective and catchy.
For example, if you are selling kitchenware and your chosen forum is food, you should base your posts on recipes or food hacks. Or if you are discussing fashion, you could post about style tips or offer advice on the best brands to buy. The choice is completely up to you but you should find a way to make your posts stand out.
Make The Most Of Replying To Comments
One of the primary purposes of an online forum is to allow for conversation and interaction between users. This is one of the things that makes these platforms so powerful. When users are engaging with your content, you can reply to them directly through the article itself or through a private message.
By doing this, you allow for continuous two-way communication between you and your audience. You should try to reply to every comment, even if it’s something as simple as “thank you for your input” or “I appreciate the suggestion.” Doing this shows that you are engaged and interested in what they have to say.
If you run a business blog and you want to grow your audience, you can also use your replies to promote your own blog articles. For example, you could say “I love your blog and agree with you wholeheartedly. Here’s an article that I wrote about…” and then link to the article. When someone clicks the link, they will be taken to your blog article and then back to the discussion forum where they began.
Monitor And Measure The Results Of Your Campaign
Last but not least, we come to the crucial part: measuring the results of your campaign. You can set up alerts for your chosen metrics such as post engagement, post views, and subscribers. This will help you keep track of the metrics that matter most to you. You should look for forums that provide clear and honest metrics so that you can accurately assess the success of your campaign.
At this point, you have a basic understanding of how to use online forums to promote your business. From finding the right platform through to establishing and measuring an internal community, it’s all there in the name of promoting your business online.