Incorporating Forum Marketing into your Home Business Marketing Plan

Forum marketing is a simple yet effective way to create exposure to your home-based business. Not only will your business stand out but it's a free method that if done effectively—can lead to new team members, sales and inquires.

Here are some tips to help you get started in forum marketing:

1. Picking a Forum

There are tons of forums on there in internet-land but you want to join the ones that are specific to your home-based business. For instance, if you're selling lotions and skin care products you may want to find a forum about skin care (i.e. Skin Care Talk) or if you're selling jewelry you may want to check out forums about jewelry (i.e. JewelryForums.net). If your home-based business is geared mostly for stay-at-home moms, you may want to consider joining forums specifically for that niche (i.e. Wahm). Lastly, for general home-based business it's wise to join generic forums that are for everybody. That’s important because not only will you be interacting with people who already have a home-based business but also people who are looking to start one. Simply, type in a search engine something “forums” and a list of forums will pop up for you to take a look at.

Your goals for choosing a forum is making sure they’re are active members, not full of spam and will benefit your home-based business. Your purpose is not to spam but network with other home-based business owners and connect with those who are searching for one as well.

2. Pick an Avatar, Username and Create your Profile

Once you've found one or two forums to join create an account and take the time to add information in your control panel. A control panel is a common term in forums and it's where you're able to add information about yourself, upload pictures, add your website etc (basically creating a profile). When someone clicks on your name in a forum, it'll take them to your profile so they can learn about you. So, that's why it's important to make sure all your information is updated because this is what viewers will see. 

An avatar is a picture that people will see next to your username. Other than making sure the picture is appropriate, this is the first thing people will see when your posting. Same goes with your username--- make sure it's catchy, easy to remember, simple and unique. Remember! First impressions are everything!

3. Create your Signature

This is a very important and crucial step! Your signature (other than your profile) is the key in effective forum marketing. When creating your signature make sure you put your website link. Keep it simple! You don’t want your signature to be a long drawn-out advertisement, too many words, look like spam etc. For instance, if your selling health discount cards your signature make look like this: Click Here to Learn How you Can Save On your Medical Bills!” It’s short and sweet, but make sure when people click on your signature it links back to your website or whatever landing page you want. You can edit and create your signature in your control panel. Make sure to read the forum’s rules for signature and you adhere to their guidelines. Different forums have different rules but it’s mainly due to get rid of spammers.

Also, another reason to research forums is because some forums don’t allow signatures at all. If that’s the case, then you want to make sure your profile has all your home-based business information including website.

4. Read Guidelines

All forums have guidelines and rules that you must follow or you may end up being banned. Common guidelines may include how to advertise, rules on spamming etc. It's important to get familiar with those guidelines as the last thing you want to do is get banned from that forum. 

5. Get Familiar

Browse around the forum and get a "sense" of what's going on. Read some other posts; see what people are talking about etc. You want to fit in the forum so knowing the flow of posts and conversations may be really helpful for you.

So know that you found a forum, created an account and signature, read the guidelines, you’re ready to start posting right? Well, yes but wait! Don't start just posting anything because forum marketing is a technique that if done well-- will give you leads, new team members or even sales!

6. Don’t Spam! Don’t Spam! Don’t Spam!

This will get you banned and your reputation will go down the drain. People join people, not the company. Your goal is to build a trust-worthy reputation on whatever forum(s) you chose and connect with others. If you go around posting “Join me!” you’ll probably get flagged, banned or some other forum members may post replies on why that’s not cool to do. Be smart, use common sense and don’t sound desperate.

7. Share What You Do

In some forums, there are “folders” specifically for your home-based business where you can talk all you want about what you do. Also, there may be many postings or threads created when people ask what do you do or this or that about your company. Yes, that’s a great time to share your opportunity or product etc. Still, don’t sound spammy or anything—just share!

8. Don’t Go Inbox Crazy

If someone shows interest in your company and you made a connection with them, and then it would be ok to inbox them. However, don’t go inboxing random people about your opportunity because that’s the same line as spamming.

9. Stay Consistent

If you really want to build a good reputation on a forum, stay consistent. That means taking 20 minutes each day and contributing good content on the forum: replying to people’s posts or threads, engaging in conversations, providing feedback etc. Think about it… If you were someone who’s looking to work at home for instance, would you be more likely to trust someone who posted 1,000 times and has been really active in that forum or someone who only posted 10 times and their last activity was a week ago?

Put yourself in the viewer’s shoes and it will help you decide how to post content. Remember, first impressions are everything and your postings are being looked upon from thousands or more viewer’s. So that’s why it’s effective if done right.

10. Lastly, Have Fun and Stay Away From Drama

Like with any social media outlet, you may come across drama in the forums but stay away from it. Stay positive and focus on what you’re doing and move on to the next. What people forget is eyes are looking at your every move. So, if you feed into issues and post negative replies--- well, someone who may be interested in your business opportunity may look the other way. Again, people join people. If someone is interested in you, they’ll click your signature or read your profile page.

So, by using these simple techniques you’ll be on your way to effectively exposing your home-based business. Have fun, network with others, learn a thing or two and incorporate forum marketing in your marketing plan!