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Online Forums and Message Board Communities

Social media really isn’t a new concept. What’s new about it is how companies are utilizing different aspects of social media.

One of the Internet’s oldest forms of social communications is online forums and message boards. Forums and message boards have built specialized communities around particular subjects of interest. These days, there’s practically a forum or a message board for most mainstream issues, products, and even movies. As you dig deeper into a niche area, you’re likely to find some kind of related social community where you can interact with like-minded individuals.

Message boards and community forums offer a few unique opportunities to work into your online marketing strategy. By becoming a participating member, you can help to guide conversations and possibly become known as an expert in your community (see Figure 2). Your profile can give links back to your own website as well as your detailed signature (depending on the forum/message board rules). Becoming a sponsor for a community or message board also offers great opportunities to reach well-qualified markets.

Figure 2

Figure 2 Online forum: The Rotten Tomatoes Forum is dedicated to movies and TV shows.

Your strategic need will determine the effectiveness of this form of social media. Time and investment are required when interacting with a forum or a message board. You must build a level of trust. If you just start posting links, rather than truly contributing to the conversation, you’ll likely be asked to leave—or at least to change your tactics. If you need quick turnaround with this medium, look into sponsoring the forum or message board for a month or two.

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