Forum marketing is a solid and respectable way to meet people interested in your industry and then to share your knowledge with them. In the process you’ll likely (hopefully) make contact with individuals who will later become paying clients.
But there are some mistakes common to forum marketing. Here are the top eight:
1. Getting Offended
So another member disagrees with you and has clearly made you look the fool. You could engage in a never ending argument about why you’re right (or why your product is the best, etc.) but they won’t change their mind. People seldom do. And you certainly won’t be accomplishing your objective.
You need to remember why you in that forum. It is to build your business, not to defend your pride. Not everyone will agree with you, let alone love your company. Often the most successful products are also among the most controversial.
Solution: "If you stop to kick every dog that barks at you, you will never get very far. (Often attributed to Sir Winston Churchill)
2. Being Offensive
If you are offended, likely the next mistake you’ll make is being rude. And this is a great way to render your marketing efforts sterile. "Who would be rude to potential customers?, you ask. Its a curious thing about the internet, but we tend to overreact and over think the meanings of what’s being said. And because of the size of the audience, we tend to feel the need to defend our brand and our honor.
You have two options. a) You can flame them or b) you can forget about it. To give them a figurative kick in the teeth is just as likely to help build your business as is if you were to do it in person at the local coffee shop.
Solution: Just walk away. Find another thread or topic where there isn’t a warring mentality.
3. Affiliate links
While everyone would love to post an affiliate link in a busy forum (just imagine the possibilities) this is considered bad form. In fact, this single act will likely get you banned. The Terms of Service likely note that affiliate links aren’t allow. Even if they aren’t banned, you will do well to never use them. The purpose of forum marketing is to build trust. How much trust will this create for you and your company?
Solution: Use the forum for sharing and your website for selling.
4. Copying and Pasting
So a reader asks a question similar to a previous question in another forum or in another topic on this forum. You can simply copy and paste your previous answer, and help this person too, right? Wrong. What's wrong with copy and pasting, if you’re the author?
Well if you are on multiple forums and multiple topics, likely your readers are too. And who wants to read the same copy multiple times? If the question is the same, answer the question, but in different wording. Its all part of the process of building trust.
Solution: Be original, every time.
5. Posting Sales Copy
This should go without saying. Your well written brochure copy isn’t suitable for an online forum. The members expect to be helped, not sold. There is simply no acceptable time to talk like an infomercial when posting on forums.
Solution: Write like you’re talking to a friend, not like you’re reading a script for a radio commercial.
If you want to drive people away, post a picture of you hungover, or in your bathing skimpies. Don’t forget to put lots of sales copy and affiliate links (see above) in your signature. Who wants to lose a sales opportunity, right?
Solution: Keep it clean and simple. Use similar content as on your business card. Learn how to create an effective forum marketing signature.
7. Irregular Posting
Regardless of the number of excellent, polite and original comments you post, if there are weeks (or worse, months) between each post, you’re going to lose the benefits. You get forgotten. This is a good reason to chose just one or two solid forums to participate in - to avoid spreading yourself too thin.
Solution: Chose just a few forums, and schedule a little time every week (or every day, depending on your objectives) to respond to new postings.
8. Poor Grammar
If you want to make people discount your advice, write like an ape. Forget periods and capital letters, write in all caps and half sentences and make spelling mistakes. It doesn’t matter how good your advice is, no one will trust it, if it’s poorly written.
Solution: use an in-browser spell/grammar check. And always take time to re-read your post, before posting.