What Are they?
Internet Forums (also known as online bulletin boards or message boards) are online discussion utilities. They are sometimes sites into themselves, or included as a subset of larger sites. The discussions on forums are often kept online indefinitely or for long periods of time.
Forums are usually launched for and support communications among specific groups around industries, hobbies, technologies, associations, professions and events.
Why Are They Important?
Forums are evolving dramatically, primarily due to the emergence and adoption of Social Media tools and protocols that more efficiently enable similar outreach to groups. But one of the strongest elements of forums over the emerging Social Media platforms is specificity – forums still allow a more targeted audience around precise topics than most current Social Media platforms. There are two primary marketing functions of forums and related utilities as they relate to shops like yours:
To establish a reputation of knowledge leadership for you & your company
Key Elements & Considerations:
Do not directly or overtly sell your shop, services or products on Forums – you’ll turn off far more people than you will interest or attract
Be as helpful as you can
Include your Name, Company Name & URL at the end of every post
Most people overlook the value of posts to forums long after the ‘conversation’ has ended. A post on a particular topic, with a helpful & thoughtful answer from you – with your Name, Company Name & URL – can bring unexpected value, leads and business to you through a forgotten Forum post
If you are a member of an industry association or professional group, find out what online promotional opportunities they offer – including Forums or listserves (private forums)
Remember – the things you say there stay there. The posts & responses you leave on forums are, in essence, permanent. Consider the legacy value to someone finding your post in a year or two – long after you’ve forgotten about it. Craft responses that not only address the current forum topic – include relative, but broader explanations of how you’ve used processes like 5-Axis Machining, Look-Ahead or Injection Molding to help a customer
Examples of useful Forums for manufacturing and machining on the Web: