In internet land there are plenty of forums to promote your business and online endeavours for literally every type of available niche (sector/products/businesses) imaginable.  The issue is not that there are plenty of forums.  The issue becomes which forum best fits what I as a small business person would like to participate on? Naturally, it is up to you to decide.  One aspect we will say is: beware.  Forums can suck up an enormous amount of your time, and in many instances, this is the whole idea behind some platforms, to have users/visitors spend an enormous amount of their time so the platform can dish up as many adverts as possible.  This is how the majority of forums make their money.  From advertisers hoping users will buy their products and/or services.  So what forums should you be a part of when running an online business.  There is no easy answer to this question, so we’ll start with the usual suspects:

Various Forums to Promote Your Business includes:

Social Media:

Now if you want to waste time of the first order, then social media platforms are for you!  Here at (EDP) Every Day People Communications, we’re not a huge fan of social media platforms because of this very fact.  They tend to suck up one’s time and from our perspective the jury is still out whether social media platforms really deliver value for your business.  Yes, we know this goes against the standard thinking that every business, whether online or offline, must have a social media presence.  The question we would like to ask is:  what did businesses do, both online and offline, when social media platforms were literally non-existent?  Clearly many businesses still survived and thrived!  Many businesses still connected with their communities and with their customers. So we will leave it up to you.

Specialty Forums:

An example of specialty forms is Warrior Forum.  This forum is for online marketers of all types of persuasions and for many different niches.  Yes, again it can be a time sucker. Yes, there can be a lot of crap products and BS promoted by various members as being the best thing since sliced bread.  What we would suggest is keep your purse/wallet firmly in your pocket.  We like to read the various Warrior Special Offers (WSO) as it gives us an indication on what the latest trends are in the online/internet marketing world; teaches us a thing or two about copywriting or trying to write persuasive copy.  However we tend to leave accessing this forum until the weekend, when we have a tad bit more time available.  Hence, it is well worth becoming a member of from this perspective.  You can also review different offers for free to give them a test drive prior to the WSO going live and leaving an honest review helps other members to make a more informed decision.  There are general discussion forums as part of Warrior Forum, hence, you’re bound to find something of interest.

Other specialty forums are niche specific, hence, simply bring up Dr Google and undertake a quick search using the keywords (words or phrases) on the topic you are interested in.  Whalla!  You will no doubt have a broad range of forums to choose from for your specific topic or niche.  Word of Warning.  You will need to check out the various forum threads for yourself to ascertain whether the forum is worth joining or not; and whether members of the forum do know what they’re talking about.  So be aware.  Be informed.  And use your time judiciously.

Question & Answer Forums:

The one that springs to mind is Quora.  This forum has literally taken over from Yahoo Answers and yet again you can spend an enormous amount of time on this forum.  Again the forum caters for literally every niche and human condition known to man.  You can select when you register for free, what topics interest you the most.  The positive aspect of Quora is it is minus the adverts which is a real bonus.  Sometimes on reading the questions posed one really does wonder is this person for real or are they simply trying to generate some type of discussion or promote some type of BS idea.  However, in the main, if you treat the question with respect and give a well considered answer you will increase your standing over time on the topic that you’ve decided to provide answers to.

Recommended Strategies:

Forums to promote your business can be highly beneficial.  However, because spending time on any of the above can be time consuming. The time spent can see you not completing a broad range of tasks you set out to complete for the day.  Hence we suggest the following strategies:

  • Rather than try and become a member of every forum available, select one or two different forums to promote your business and master these platforms first.  You can always extend down the track or alternatively outsource posting to other platforms to a freelancer you trust.
  • Limit the amount of time you spend on the forum/s you select.  For example:  we like to review Quora on a daily basis, so we set this task to be undertaken over morning coffee; however, we only select one question to answer per day.  Yes, it means our profile grows gradually over time in order to promote our business.  However, by reviewing one question to answer, we are limiting the amount of time we spend on the forum.  Then we immediately log out.  
  • Resist the temptation to continually log into the forum repeatedly throughout the day.  The world will not come to an end, if you only log in once daily rather than several times each day.  You will also value the forum more for placing some parameters around your involvement.  You have plenty of other tasks to undertake to promote your business.  Alternatively you can log in and schedule a range of posts for the specific day to save you time down the track.
  • Be supportive and helpful.  This will increase your standing with other members.  Forums are about generating a sense of community.  Community members help and support each other.  Be a positive community member.  Forums are not the place to offload all your negative baggage and anger or whatever.  Regardless of whether you think you’re entitled to offload, remember you are in fact ‘speaking’ to other members.  Would you verbally dump the same stuff to another human being?  If not, ensure you avoid writing it!
  • Remember to abide by the forum rules and/or guidelines.  You don’t want to have your account suspended because you decided to ignore the rules.
  • Avoid spamming members with your posts and/or links.  A lot of forums will not allow you to post affiliate or URL links in your posts and they do this for a reason.  They want members to help each other not continually spam each other.
  • If in doubt – leave it out!  Yes, if you’re unsure whether you should say something; then the best course of action is to leave it out.  There is a saying:  Humans have 2 ears and 1 mouth – use accordingly.  Same with online forums.  You have 2 eyes and 1 brain.  Type accordingly.

In conclusion:

Forums can be fun.  Forums can be highly informative. Forums can be a good resource to promote your business.  You can learn heaps on forums and usually for free.  And when forums are part of your online business endeavours, they can enhance your reputation and your brand.  However, the opposite is also true.  They can and do at times have a negative impact if misused and/or used to trash another person’s reputation, self-esteem and self-worth.  Aim to lift people to the moon and if they reach the stars you have achieved your aim.  Aim to be a positive community member.