Thursday, February 16, 2006

Are Forum Posts Helping Your Bottom Line?

In my bid to have some issues resolved in Washington, I recently wrote an article about how I was able to find new audiences for my web sites. This article is about one of the ways web site owners are also using messages boards to get new audiences and why I don't think this is such a good idea.

I can confirm that using forums and message boards are good ways to get traffic to your sites especially if you are able to use a signature with each post. The problem, you are talking to you. The reasons why you use a forum are to get help with a problem or to find out how you can better promote your wares or services. But you are talking to others with the same problems and once you have a solution the fact that 50 other posters just like you my have clicked on your site to review your problem doesn't mean you have a new audience/client for your services. You have 50 people that wanted to see what your problem was. Then you will notice that some site statistic has increased and you will return to the same 50 people who only wanted to review your problem and not necessarily buy your wares or services.

You should use forums which are designed to assist with problems and then move on to other forums for the "buying" audience. Try a blog/blog traffic exchange -- networking groups, chat rooms, or even other forums. I really feel a lot of small business owners are missing out on a good and inexpensive form of promotion if they are not using a blog.

I use SitePoint quite often and it is a very large forum. The forum topics relate to software and technology issues and I have found lots of assistance via this board. I also use BloggerForum. Both of these forums provide me feedback as well as an audience for my tools and support. They are good choices for me because I am in the software business.

I also have a forum but I do not actively seek an interactive audience. I did at first. I later figured out that the PHP/MySQL combination driving my forum is too resource intensive, so I am quite happy to only have my "lists" available to a curious audience -- as compared to active community support.

Sometimes your site statistics are inflated because of forum use, however your bottom line with regard to income is not changing. You are trying to sell to yourself. Fix your problem [get assistance] -- move on.

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