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Online forums have become a valuable promotional tool for web-based businesses. Not only do they increase your popularity, they also put you in touch with a large yet focused market. They’re also cheap—it doesn’t cost anything to sign up for a forum and start posting away. Whether you’re launching your own or using existing ones to boost site popularity, there’s always a great marketing advantage to using online forums.
To maximize the benefits of forum posting, it’ important to know how they work and learn some basic forum etiquette. Here’s a basic guide to help you get started.
What are online forums?
Online forums allow users to publish material (usually text, but sometimes media as well) onto a website, so they can discuss specific topics in a common venue. There are forums on just about any subject, and posting is usually free. A forum is sometimes called a message board, and specific discussions are called threads. Users can sometimes post anonymously, but most forums, especially American ones, place great emphasis on user identity and require you to sign up before posting.
Forum content is usually managed by an Administrator or Moderator. Depending on the forum rules, they can censor obscene messages, monitor signups and user behavior, and ban “trolls” (users who deliberately disrupt forum discussions).
Why are online forums important?
On the user end, forums are a great way to get in touch with people who share similar interests. Forum users can find answers to uncommon questions and open up new discussions. Even obscure and niche topics can be discussed in forums; with the large number of online users, there’s sure to be at least a few who are interested. In this sense, the value of forums lies in information access—they have eliminated the need for extensive research or waiting to get access to new information.
How do forums make money?
Forums, like most other websites, make money through advertising. From a marketing point of view, forums make it much easier to find and reach specific audiences. Since it’s presumed that forum users are interested in the topic, they make excellent targets for online advertising. In fact, forums make some of the best advertising venues on the internet—more effective than banners and other mainstream methods.
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