While advertising executives desperately search for the best ways to target audiences through Facebook and Twitter, there’s another social media format that is proving to be a highly effective tool for reaching consumers. According to a new white paper released from PostRelease, “If the Holy Grail of marketing is a band of self-motivated enthusiasts proactively recommending your product, then the Grail’s secret location could very well be the world of online forums.”
As opposed to tweets and status updates, in which they are intrusive at best, pointed product conversations are often the very forces that drive online forum discussions. Rather than sharing with the world what you had for lunch today, consumers in forums post such targeted questions as, “What should I look for in a laptop?” and “Can someone recommend the best sleeping bags?”
“In other words, forums are a communicator’s dream—the ultimate way to target,” said Justin Choi, president of PostRelease, which happens to be in the business of online forum advertising. PostRelease enables companies to insert clearly labeled sponsored posts as relevant content into targeted online forum discussions, using a unique hybrid approach to make forums useful to advertisers, marketers and public relations specialists.
The paper provides data supporting the case that forums are the most effective channel for reaching highly influential consumers. Forrester Research reports that 28 percent of U.S. consumers read online forums—making it the second most popular online activity, second only to watching video.
The paper also examines the following:
• How forums work—their structure, and current advertising opportunities
• What makes forum users such word-of-mouth powerhouses for a brand
• Why participating in forum discussions can boost SEO rankings, with posts that continue to drive traffic indefinitely—increasing by an average of 100 percent one year after a paid campaign has ended
• The importance of transparency and of following the rules and guidelines when participating in a forum community
• How to be effective in forums by dispensing useful information, not promotional messages
“But it’s not as simple as just jumping in and starting to participate in the forum conversations,” said Choi. “There are challenges, rules and best practices that agencies and brands should be aware of. The purpose of this paper is to help demystify the world of online forums and give them their due as one of the best ways to reach consumers already predisposed to be interested in what you say.”