In today’s marketing landscape, we have become so used to looking for Social Media in the typical places, i.e. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, that we’ve completely neglected the social marketing secret of forums. And what an oversight that is! These relics of a bygone age have way more of an impact on social marketing than they are credited for, despite their text heavy appearance.
Forums & Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
In order for search engines to know what your site is offering, you need words, and lots of them! Although Google is becoming rather tech savvy with its ability to recognise what is in an image, this is nowhere near as effective as straightforward compilation of letters describing a thing or a concept. Not only do forums contain an abundance of these handy words, but they also curate them excellently! Forum posts are cumulated into ‘threads’ usually concentrating on a single topic, and these threads are then coordinated into categories. Ideal for demonstrating to search engines exactly what the content is regarding and how it should be indexed.
And, because the content is mostly user generated, it can be hugely present, granting not only critical key phrases to be recorded and indexed, but also those very distinct long-tail phrases – the variety that only few users will ever search for, but if you have heaps of them… bingo!
Today, Facebook has millions and millions of users, and Twitter rivals new empires for cutting edge data about anything and everything, but forums are preparing to take on these giants. The majority of forums are topic specific, therefore making it easier for search engines to identify that they are relevant for particular subjects, which is key to their success!
But don’t just take our word for this, search for just about anything other than a brand, product or service name, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to stumble across a forum relevant to that topic. You must have at some point in time got stuck on something at work, uni or home and ended up googling for some answers. We bet you ended up in a forum!
How forums can benefit your marketing efforts.
Users are searching for help and information, and those businesses who help them to find it will, at the very least, leave them with a positive impression of their brand. At best, these users will be led to your product or service and make a purchase!
Now, whilst you may think that a basic forum post looks pretty unimpressive, and the few replies may only count for a handful of individuals, make regular checks to see how many people have actually viewed the thread, you’ll be surprised! Bare in mind, however, that this does work in both ways, positive and negative. Even if a negative thread only has a few people involved, it can be seen thousands of times by other users. Like most things in life, the negative side of forums have the tendency to spread faster than the positive posts, so it’s a good idea to redress the balance occasionally.
To conclude, forums are every bit as powerful as the big social media players – arguably they are much more powerful!