Online Forums and Your Social Media Campaign

by Colleen Rugg

Artwork by Kristian Zaspel, My SMN

Forums produce a great opportunity for a business to find conversations based around topics that focus on a product or service they can help others with.  It is a great way to also learn more about customer attitudes toward an industry, product or service. Through online forums, people can connect with others to gain valuable insight on a product, travel destination, get advice on a health condition, get advice for choosing the right insurance plan, get tips for planning a wedding, learn DIY tricks for the home and more.

Online forums attract experts who are viewed as leaders by other members because of their knowledge; their experience helps to provide guidance to other members. Commentary from non-experts also provides honest advice and tips.

As you consider monitoring forums for your business, you will want to conduct some research on which forums to spend most of your time listening to and engaging with in order to find potential new customers.  Respond to a few online threads, stay consistent and remember to check back to see if anyone has asked you questions.  As in all social media, opportunities are lost if they are not followed up on.

Here are a couple things you can do to effectively take action with online forums:

  • Reach out to bloggers and thank them for the great reviews (posted on forums)
  • Ask them to come to your Facebook page and share their photos or reviews
  • Reward them with complements – thank anyone for writing a great review
  • Take advantage of positive reviews. All of the positive reviews that you find online can be used for additional content on Facebook, Twitter, within a new blog, within a press release and more.  There are a lot of people who are savvy in researching reviews on the products or services they desire, but there are also many people who do not know where to search.  You need to make it easy for them by posting in multiple locations.
  • Be extra cautious about rules and regulations and don’t break them!  The rules for LonelyPlanet ask to not advertise or spam, or use the forum to promote a business or website, commercial or otherwise. They don’t mind if you include links to your blogs or websites in your profiles, but commercial solicitation, straight up advertising, or contributions solely designed to promote traffic to another site, aren’t acceptable. They do not permit business accounts and the community areas are preserved for individual travelers. Adding value to conversations is the best way to build an audience for your expertise.

Email Colleen for free advice if you have any questions about online forums: colleen@mysmn.com

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