Businesses around the world today are recognizing the importance of an aggressive online presence via social media as one among the important factors to sustain both corporate viability and growth. And for the right reasons! It cannot be denied that more than ever, customers are using the internet to make purchases and other transactions that involve financial decisions, decisions that have a direct impact on the companies with which they do such transactions. As a proof of this phenomenon, several companies that offer financial and quasi-financial services to customers who perform online transactions that involve sending or receiving money now abound in the internet. Some of these are the traditional banks who want to take advantage of an online platform both to serve the online needs of their current clients and customers, while others are non-banking institutions that offer secure online financial transactions to customers all over the world. PayPal, for instance is an example of a non-bank company that serves its global customers’ needs for sending and receiving online payments for goods or services purchased through online channels. It is very clear that companies, indeed, must consider online marketing as one of the major tools for attaining business success, and thus, must make every effort to penetrate the growing sector of online customers.
One of the most popular forms of online marketing used by several companies is forum marketing. As its name goes, it is a marketing strategy that uses forums as its main online platform for conducting promotions for products or services. For purposes of illustration, a guiding definition of the word ‘forum’ is rightly called for. Generally speaking, a forum is an online message board whereby participants can engage in discussion threads about a certain topic that is of common interest to them. As a social media channel, forums usually require membership sign-up for those who wish to participate in the discussions, thus ensuring that participants really share the same interests. Members can ask questions, get answers, share ideas, or start a topic for discussion. A forum therefore is an online community of individuals sharing the same thoughts or interests. Generally, a member of such a community starts creating a topic. After such a topic has been posted, other members of the community react to such a post by way of further discussions, thus creating what is referred to as a ‘thread’. More often than not, such ‘threads’ also give way to other ‘threads’. The possibility of getting viral, therefore, is the most prominent feature that characterizes forums, and as such, it really makes good sense to take advantage of this particular platform in planning out an online marketing strategy. Apart from that, posting in forums is free, which makes it more viable over other online marketing channels such as outright digital advertising.
Now that we have defined what an online forum is, we are ready to discuss forum marketing. As an online business tool, forum marketing is the use of public and private forums to share one’s expertise and in the process of doing so, build and earn the trust of other forum members. Forum marketing is also a way to establish an online presence. After such presence has been confirmed and forum member’s trust has been earned, the presentation of products and services can be executed. Remember, however, that forums as are used by people to look for valuable information, and as such, sales pitch cannot be used in your presentation. Rather, you should give highly valuable facts and information that can be associated with your products and services. As a form of social media marketing, your forum discussions should endeavor to solve the problems of those who are in the forum you are using. Having done so, you are allowed to insert links to your products or services at the bottom of your forum post. You should, therefore, make your discussion as interesting as possible, enticing your readers to click on your links, which is your audience gateway from the forum to your products and services.