Facebook has become nearly synonymous with social media marketing. If you don’t have a presence on Facebook, the general consensus is that you are either completely out of the loop or you just don’t really want to succeed, maybe both.
The same could be said of Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and more recently, Pinterest. These platforms make up the pillars of any social media campaign, and most would say that a campaign lacking in any one of these platforms is a campaign doomed to fail.
While the common wisdom about these social media platforms isn’t misguided or wrong, it does leave out one very important platform — one nearly as old as the internet itself, and one that could have an extraordinary impact on your marketing success:
Forums and message boards.
“But how are forums and message boards supposed to help me market?” It’s a fair question. After all, forums and message boards as rule forbid the kind of manipulative and artificial communications that most marketing campaigns employ.
But before you start scratching your head and grunting dismissively, consider this — the primary objective of any marketing campaign is to convince customers to buy your product. To get a customer to buy your product, you have to gain their trust. And to gain their trust you have to build a brand that seems trustworthy, which is where the manipulative and artificial marketing rhetoric usually comes in.
Ad campaigns, e-mail marketing, and a powerful social media presence are all effective trust builders, but word-of-mouth marketing from one customer to another trumps all the other initiatives combined every time.
Why are forums and message boards so important? They approximate word-of-mouth marketing.
There is no real substitute for word-of-mouth marketing, but the kind of trust that has been developed in forums and message boards is as close as you will ever get in the online community. People go to message boards and forums for advice, recommendations, and feedback, and they trust the other members of the message board. If you can establish a presence on forums and message boards, you can be a voice in the on-going discussion about products or services in your field, and with any luck, will lead people back to your site or product, with the trust that only a forum or message board can instill.
It’s a little strange, given how powerful message boards can be, that more marketers don’t make forums and message boards a part of their campaigns.
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