If you've been marketing online for a few years, you probably remember when Yahoo! Groups were the place to be. You could base your search criteria on specific factors such as topic, number of people in the group, etc.
Today you can do the same thing with forums. Go into Google and search your topic + forum. (For example, "organic food forum") A number of different forums should come up. Click and read the information for each...
- What are their rules?
- How many people are in the forum?
- When was the last activity?
- How many people are active in the forum?
- What kinds of comments are being shared?
- Does this look like a place where your potential clients, customers, or patients would hang out?
- Do you have something to contribute that is compatible with the messages approved, shared, and being commented on?
If most of the criteria above is met, this may be a great opportunity for you to share what you know and begin building visibility, trust, and respect from the forum members. Remember, this is a process, not a "get rich quick scheme". It takes methodical and systematic actions on a consistent basis to foster relationships with your target market.
Track your results and review after 30 days. How often did you make comments, suggestions, or share ideas? How many comments did you receive from each? Are there a few individuals who are more active in commenting on your posts than others? If so, are they your target market? Is it time to send them a private message and offer a free ebook, report, etc.? How can you begin building your list and adding them into your funnel?
Forums aren't quite as popular as groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, but they still offer an opportunity for listbuilding when you reach out, find, and add value to those who want, need, and are willing to buy what you offer.