Some people seem to make Forum Marketing into a major subject, but I want to let you know that it's not that difficult to explain and it should take an hour to go through. It's very simple and I'll prove it in this quick Guide.
I've been doing Forum Marketing for approximately 10 years now. I just did the math and it is, in fact, 10 years starting in 2 weeks. It's amazing how fast time goes by, but I digress. Forum Marketing has been a very important aspect of my Businesses over the past 10 years and it continues to do so, as many of you have noticed. I love socializing on forums and reading new things, helping others with problems, etc. - it's helped me more than I can explain.
You can get a lot of traffic to your important sites by simply "getting involved" in other people's conversations (also known as Threads, just like this thread here).
Even as Affiliates you can get traffic and make money with Forum Marketing, it's all a matter of being active and helping others. Posting anything of help, without spamming.
How Forums Work
Forums are coded in what's called Client-Side Scripting, such as PHP, ASP, etc. the forums are backed by a Database, usually MySQL. Not that any of this matters to you and how you'll use these forums, but it could be something worth learning for some. The database stores all of the information that's typed into every thread, post, private message, etc. So if you had 1,000 posts on a forum, this means that every post in that 1,000 sits nicely inside of a Database on the owners Server.
While the data is collected, the server-side script actually sends request for this data, piece by piece, with every click of a mouse on that forum. If you send someone a message, the code literally sends a query that looks like Alien diagram, which is then accepted by the database and sent to the script to display on your screen. As you type into the editor of this forum, you're preparing a piece of data to be collected by the Database, but it's code that will help you send that data. The Database is much like filing cabinet, and the code could be the hands that put the files in and take the files out, as requested.
Again, this isn't something that you'll need to know, but it's cool to understand how the magic works.
Forums are known for storing large amounts of data, which means there's a lot of members involved and a lot of conversations going on. You can take advantage of this data by becoming a PART of the data. Sounds kind of scary, I know, but I promise you that you won't be stuffed into any filing cabinets.
Becoming a Real Member
To become a member of a forum is easy, you register with your username (just like here), you give them an email to verify yourself and click Register. Voila! You're now a member... but you're not a REAL member until you start posting. Otherwise, you're just a username inside of a database, maybe even a spammer to people who don't know whether you're a human or a bot (piece of code used to accomplish things, such as spamming).
The day you become a real member is the day you start getting involved in that community. This is the day that you prove you're a human, start getting eyes on your username and slowly digging into long-term memories, post-by-post. This is very important because you cannot use your links wisely until people start trusting you and realizing you're not just there to spam them and leave, or take advantage of their community in some aggressive manner, not welcomed by most communities.
Building a Rapport with other Members
Building a Rapport or relationship with other members can be extremely important in the success of your 'campaign.' It's important to meet people, be respectful and polite and expect the same in return, unless you choose to visit sites like WickedFire, then you're kind of out of luck. There's always forums out there that are filled with kids with too much time on their hands, but we're out to make money, so let's keep it that way.
Choose your forums wisely, then start getting involved in threads you know about. First thing's first, always see if there's an Introduction forum. This not only helps you get your first post out of the way, but it's an easy way to meet people and feel "involved" right off the bat. You can quickly get some posts while thanking people for the welcomes
Why does this matter? Because some Forums require you to post before you can use a Signature, and some require 10-50(!) before you can do so. Take advantage of any introduction forums and make them useful!
Find topics that you know about and see if there's any posts that you can reply to with helpful or useful information to that person. You can build a reputation while building your post count, too.
DO NOT argue with people unless it's absolutely necessary (ie, those people are trying to burn others and you're 110% POSITIVE of it, etc.). Do your best to be respectful so that you don't build a NEGATIVE reputation.
Signatures and Links
You should always wait a while before adding your signature. I suggest waiting until you have 20-50 posts, at least. Anything before that might make you look suspicious. I will admit that I do that any time I see someone post a signature with less than 50 posts. Do your best to wait a while and let that account "age" a bit. In other words, don't build 50 posts over night and throw up a signature. Your join date will usually show when you joined and people will also see that as suspicious, too.
So, how do you add your links to your signature? That's the difficult to explain part, but it's not difficult for YOU to figure out. Let me explain...
There's a ton of different type of forum scripts. In Affiliit.com we use vBulletin, which I believe is the best (and nothing else is even close in my experience). We're using Version 4, but a lot of people are still running Version 3, so showing you how to add links to your signature will be a little more difficult to explain than to actually do.
The first thing you want to do is look for one of the following:
- My Account
- Control Panel
When you get into this area you will find a way to edit your Signature, usually. I'm not sure what else other scripts call this area, so you may have to look around. You can also add your Website links to your profile in some cases. Take a look around and see what you find. You can also test out your Signature by looking at your profile, just to make sure it's working correctly.
Let's take a quick look at how you'd add your Signature link on the Affiliit forum, just to get a better picture of how it works.
1. Find UserCP or Settings:
You will usually find it towards the top of the site or underneath the "forum" tab on the menu.
Now look for the links on the left hand side and find "Signature" somewhere in that list, like so:
When you click on that link you'll be taken to some kind of editor (usually). Some of these editors will allow you to easily edit things and do it all without any coding. Some may force you to code in HTML, by hand.
Luckily, most will have a WYSIWYG Editor (What You See Is What You Get) that looks like this:
See how easy it can be to add links to words, or better yet - KEYWORDS?
You should use this Signature for 2 reasons:
1. To get traffic and
2. To get SEO traffic ...
Use one of your keywords and make an anchor link out of it. In BB code you can do it like this, if you just want to do things by hand:
Now I would add that it's better to make a little sales pitch out of it. Something like:
Want to see the Best Anti-Virus Software on the Planet? Keep your computer clean with Avast Professional!
Becoming the Expert
Over time you will be able to be looked at as an "expert" in a certain subject if you do things correctly. Get involved in a specific forum and push yourself into threads on that subject and give the biggest breakdown you can. You'd be surprised how much you can type in 30 minutes and how that thread may make you hundreds of extra dollars over time. I've been in a thread where I happened to post a few big posts that are still bringing in over $1,500 extra per year even after 4 years. It took me maybe 1 hour of work, too. You just have to be selective, yet not too picky.
1. Choose ACTIVE forums to get involved in.
2. Look at the most active threads and attack! Seriously, there's a reason they're active and a big post is ALWAYS welcome if it really "schools" people on the subject.
3. Don't be too argumentative, just dig in and post facts that you're sure of. Show people how to really lose weight, save money on doctor bills, build a better mouse trap, etc. -- this is how you make money right within the posts.
4. Be active. Make your own threads "schooling" people on subjects with Tutorials or Suggestions on how to...[enter subject] -- but MAKE SURE that you know what you're talking about and you're not a newbie. Trust me, I've seen newbies go onto forums and puff their chest out only to be punched right back down because they were newbies. Let your account age a little and then become the experts. Experts rarely walk in as experts, because nobody can trust them yet!
Always be a real person and don't go for the sole purpose of pushing your signature links.
Be polite, don't argue unless it's the thing to do. Don't go in and start throwing your weight around, build a rapport and slowly start providing value with every post you make.
In many cases, I wouldn't add your Sig link until you hit at least 50 posts.
Tutorials, How-to's, facts, questions, etc. -- use them all and use them wisely.
DO NOT do this: find posts that ask a question on how to use something and then post some copied and pasted reply as to what it is. I see non-English speaking users do this and it will get you banned as a spammer. Why? Because that's what it looks like when people start trying to increase their post counts. I see it all of the time on DigitalPoint.
If you choose to use banners in your sig, please make sure they're clickable! I can't stand when so-called Professionals put their Business banners/logos, etc. into their sig and they're not even clickable. The sad part is that these are usually self-proclaimed Marketing experts. Irony? Yes.