Forums have marketing benefits. And they’re very much the same as the benefits that come from social media marketing. In fact, we say that social media marketing plans should include forums in the mix when applicable. When it is about the conversation, that conversation is generally not confined to Twitter or Facebook. That conversation is very possibly being extended into the Blogosphere, and yes…online forums.
Answering people’s questions in a particular niche or industry is a great way to be known as an industry leader. If you expose your or a client’s brand, products, and/or services through these social channels without spamming then you will see many direct and residual benefits from that.
Most of these sites follow links and are a great way to build your link profile even stronger, gain brand exposure, and drive relevant traffic to you or a client’s website.
One of the most important things about answering people’s questions in a social community environment is building your personal credibility. While you gain an authoritative status as an expert and a contributor you will have people pay more and more attention to your contributions and the content that you share. The key is to become a member of the community now and start to participate heavily to gain a guru status before you start to market anything.
While there are many sites to choose from, and the more exposure the better, Yahoo! Answers and LinkedIn Answers can provide the most benefit and ROI for your time investment due to their publicity and user-volume. That’s not to say you shouldn’t experiment to find out what works best for you and which community you fit in best. Every forum has its own capabilities to bring you in focus.