Online forums first popped up when you needed to occupy your phone line to connect to the internet. Obviously, a lot of things have changed, but one core principle remains the same: consumers like talking to other people with similar interests.
Now, it’s estimated that 4.5 billion people currently use the internet, and with the addition of smartphones and other handheld devices, it’s never been easier for people to discuss any topic that catches their interest with like-minded people.
Business owners understand that online forums are a great place for generating leads and engaging with your audience. Today we will look at three different ways you can use forums both on and off-site to grow your business and increase engagement.
Monitor Relevant Non-Company Forums
One of the best ways to build a connection with your target audience is by looking at forums where they can talk freely outside of your website. Countless platforms allow you to engage and analyze consumers that may benefit from your products or services.
Quora is an excellent Q & A style forum website that allows users to ask and answer questions independently. This gives business owners a unique opportunity to search for their keywords and see what kind of questions people are asking.
Similarly, you can check out modern-day forums, social media groups. People are always willing to discuss their passion with like-minded people, and they offer form groups across various social media platforms. For example, if you operate a blog based on gardening, you could benefit from checking out the Facebook group “Gardening Hints and Tips,” which has over 200,000 active members.
Co-Create with Your Audience
Including your audience in the content creation process can help drive engagement. The best example that comes to mind is the website called Cracked. If you go to their forum page, you’ll notice that they take guest posts from users who frequent the site.
The process is relatively straightforward. Cracked fans post their article ideas and outline on a forum, a moderator will approve or edit the request, and other Cracked users can comment on the posts. This process helps this website co-create their content with their audience. Their brand recognition alone is a sign of how this strategy can benefit small to medium-sized businesses.
If you own a business that specializes in teaching users how to install WordPress and build a website, you will create a section on your forum where people can submit their topic ideas. You would then curate the posts and work with the users who have a passion for creating content that’s relevant to your niche. The result is creators are engaged with your brand, and the people you want to read your content are looking at the forums and discussing new topic ideas.
Implement a “Members Only” Channel
Our last tip borrows from various examples of membership sites, and their marketing techniques. Instead of using money as a way to build a sense of community on your forum, you could create a members area for subscribers.
Psychologically speaking, people are more likely to engage with a product or brand if they feel as if there is some form of exclusivity. We all know the popularity of country clubs and their “members only” status. You can bring this principle to your website without charging customers extra for the experience of talking to like-minded people.
Membership sites also have a unique way of keeping consumers engaged with their audience. They combine constant communication through forums, email, and social media while building trust with new consumers and current customers.
Forums have changed dramatically in terms of design and usefulness, but they still attractive to consumers who want to talk about a subject, but need to find like-minded people. Think carefully about your customer personas and build topics that are interesting and relatable if you want to see maximum user engagement using your online forums.
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