For many of us, the term ‘social media’ it is practically synonymous with Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
At the very least, we tend to associate social media with analogues of these big three sites, and generally we think of social media as modern sites where you can log in and share images and status updates.
However, in reality, the web has been social long before Facebook was a gleam in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.
When the web first exploded in popularity, people were already having discussions and debates about their hobbies and favorite interests, but they were doing so in chat rooms and forums.
And although Facebook and Twitter have more prominence now than the aforementioned chat rooms, they are still available and still offer plenty of opportunities.
What are the forums?
A forum is essentially a message board, usually attached to a website, where people can post questions and get answers. Users must first create a profile and from there they can create or reply to ‘threads’, as well as do other things like send private messages.
In other words, these act like groups or pages on social media, providing a discussion that is focused on a specific topic and where only ‘members’ can contribute.
This is one of the biggest draws of these forums – they have a ‘VIP’ feeling and tend to nurture a much closer community. Many people will make friends in forums or even work together on joint projects, etc.
The advantages of forums
So while forums are smaller than social media, they are also much more specific and users tend to be very engaged and passionate about the topic. This creates an ideal opportunity for you to gain exposure for your product or website if you post there.
The problem is that most companies have no idea how to use forums. They will simply create accounts, log in, and then post their link as an ad. Considering that the users of these forums become a clique and how protective they are of their community, you can imagine that this is often received with disdain.
So to be successful on forums, the goal is to post links only after you’ve established yourself as an active member of that community.
To do this, you need to get involved: answering questions, starting discussions, and finding things that are useful to you. Although it requires a bit of work, this can allow you to learn more about your target audience, show that you are an expert on your topic, and build a loyal following and even friends.
Once you manage it, you may even find that they actively help you promote your business!