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Use Online Forums to Establish Yourself as an Industry Authority

by Tim Rimington | July 12, 2012

Are you an expert in your field who shares their experience and knowledge with the online world? If not, you're missing out on a golden opportunity.

To illustrate an example, Australia’s largest online technology forum, Whirlpool, is frequented not only by tech enthusiasts but also by industry experts, business owners and retailers, etc. Retailers gain insight into consumer expectations, their opinions and learn how products are being used, and by whom. The Whirlpool forums provide an excellent opportunity for business owners to engage with customers. Whirlpool is just one of thousands of online forums where online merchants mingle with forum members.

Register and become an active participant

A Google search for online forums relevant to your industry should provide at least one forum channel for you to investigate. Once you find an active forum (i.e. a forum with daily updates and lots of activity), register and become a regular participant.

Answer member questions

Scroll through a forum and get into the habit of replying to member questions. Once you’ve been doing this for long enough, you’ll begin to establish yourself as an authority; you will also build trust. As long as your replies are genuine in their attempt at assisting people (as opposed to driving a sales message at every opportunity), users will learn to trust you. With that trust in place, you can then suggest solutions that may include products or services available on your own website.

Pose forum questions, collect data

Forums are the perfect medium for getting feedback on new products or products that you’re researching. Consumers love discovering new things, so share new developments with forums members.

Create a landing page on your website, blog (or Facebook page) dedicated to the subject being discussed, and link to the page from within your forum posts. On the web page, offer ‘teasers’ to create early interest. Place an email newsletter subscription box on the page with a clear call to action stating that forum members will be the ‘first to know’ once the product is released. This way, you’ll have built a select group of interested subscribers already curious about the product you’re promoting.

Creating a specialist landing page featuring an email newsletter subscription box on the page is easy using SiteSuite CMS.

A solution to a problem

If you spend enough time on a user forum you’ll soon discover that most users are there to discuss a problem, and are seeking a solution. Reply with solutions regardless of whether or not that solution happens to be in your ‘bag of tricks’, i.e. whether you have a product or service that you can offer as a remedy. Remember, it’s about engagement, and you don’t have to ‘make a sale’ with every forum post. The purpose here is to establish yourself, or your business, as an authority.

Customise your forum signature

Most forums allow you to create a custom ‘signature’ that appears beneath every post and reply that you create. Be sure to include the following information:

  • Your website URL (or shopfront page URL)
  • Blog URL
  • Twitter account
  • Facebook page URL
  • Pinterest page URL
  • Other online assets and information relevant to the forum

Become active on a user forum that suits your industry, and establish yourself as the authority in your field. Great for business and perfect for SEO with the addition of inbound links to optimised landing pages.

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