The commercialization of social media is making it harder to find and engage in topics of interest. The problem is noted by Facebook users’ complaints about the network burying its Most Recent updates, and Twitter users’ complaints about influencers engaging in traditional one-to-many communication practices, an influx of ads, automated posts, etc.
Yet online forums — often considered digital relics — offer active contributors and moderators who are passionate about their interests in thousands of niche subject areas, and trolling discussion threads has been greatly reduced.
Forums have become a multi-billion dollar business. Freelancer.com recently spent $3.2 million to buy the marketing community site, Warrior Forum, where 732,000-plus marketing professionals swap intel about mobile marketing, social media, ad networks and more.
“Forum posts have 10 times more reach than Facebook posts, and Google indexes ensure that those posts live on forever,” says Social Media Today. “Not surprisingly, then, Google regularly ranks forum content as among the highest in terms of influence and authenticity. This is quite logical because forums are precisely both influential and authentic.”
Members of forum communities are passionate advocates and participants in their niches. Therefore, they are natural influencers in their chosen realms. And forums laud authenticity, as they don’t pay posters or offer tangible rewards. People tend to post on forums for individually-driven reasons, and their words tend to be genuine and uncalculated. And when it comes to content distribution, forum members tend to aggressively share their posts in social realms, building their personal social currency, and further pumping the Google juice of the forum itself.
Brands, too, can find no better audience for targeted content distribution within online forums. A smart video or an engaging on-topic article, if done right, can drive free brand awareness like nothing else. Brands, in fact, often see far higher engagement from targeted content spots as compared to targeted advertising in social and online platforms.
Equally important, brands can find enthusiastic advocates and potential sources of truly authentic original content in forums. That’s when inbound marketing isn’t really marketing at all; It’s just people writing about stuff they really like. Testimonials and unsolicited endorsements sans highly paid brand marketing teams and brainstorming sessions.
The following infographic by VigLink and Technorati offers little-known forum facts on inbound marketing via online forums.