There is no question that forum marketing is an effective way to promote your business online. However, you need to make sure you go about it the right way if you wish to fully capitalize on all it has to offer. While each forum covers a different topic, and each forum has its own culture filled with unique people and subtle nuances, there is some basic forum etiquette that you should always try to follow.
1. Lurking pays (sort of). In internet lingo, a lurker is someone who reads a forum but never participates in it. It’s a good idea to lurk for a few days before you make your first post. Be sure to read several posts to see how people interact with each other and try to get a feel for the forum as well. You can make your first post once you have a good idea of what the place is about.
2. Follow the rules. It is your responsibility to read and follow all of the rules. It’s also up to you to pay attention to any unwritten rules. This can be tricky, but it’s still important. If someone calls you out on your breaking a rule, then apologize and accept the correction gracefully (and make sure you don’t repeat the mistake).
3. Don’t be aggressive in your promotion efforts. While some forums are more lenient in how they deal with people that self-promote, virtually all of them will take some form of action. Some forums will simply delete your post, others will give you a temporary ban, and others will ban you permanently. That would obviously be counterproductive. But there reason why it’s important to follow this bit of forum marketing etiquette: the members of the forum may mark you as a spammer. If that happens it will be next to impossible to overcome it.
4. Read carefully before posting. You should always read an entire thread before you respond. Read the first post carefully so you understand it. Once you do that, then continue reading all of the other responses. What often happens is that people will come to some sort of consensus or solution about half-way through the thread. If you then mention something that has already been taken care of, or ask a question that has been answered many times, then you will lose points in the eyes of the forum. But if you follow the proper forum marketing etiquette and read before you post, then your fellow members will appreciate it.
5. Contribute. If there’s a secret to effective forum marketing, then this is it. Being a regular contributor is not only good etiquette, but it also increases your reputation within the community. Of course you still need to make sure you’re following the rules, but the more people get to know you, the more likely they will be to buy from you.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it really isn’t. The learning curve is pretty quick. Following the proper forum marketing etiquette keeps thing running smoothly and gives you the best chance to get your offer in front of the people most likely to want it.