Content marketing can mean a lot of things. When I hear people discussing different types of content marketing, normally they’re talking about individual pieces. Infographics, videos, white papers, in-depth blog posts, etc., seem to be the go-to content types when people are putting together their content marketing campaigns.
An often-overlooked part of the content marketing puzzle is the forum. A once over-spammed channel can be a great source of traffic (and eventually leads) for your website. Who cares if the links are nofollow? Hundreds of people use forums/Q&A sites every day to get answers to questions or to solve problems. Why not be active on a website where potential leads are telling you exactly what issues they are facing?
Let’s take a look at two ways you can use forums to jump-start your content marketing and lead generation campaigns.
1. Solving Their Problems
One of the biggest mistakes I see in content marketing campaigns is limiting content to only your site. Forums are a perfect place to write short-form content that helps your customers. I was in a small business forum recently where someone had asked a question a few days earlier about how to build an online marketing plan. I made a comment about how analyzing backlinks to similar companies can be a great way to figure out what options are out there, and then pointed to a blog post I wrote on the subject a few months back (you can find that post here if you missed it). I don’t care if that link is nofollowed. I answered that person’s question and had the ability to drive referral traffic to our site. That is a “win” in my book.
2. Topic Generation
As stated above, forums are a great place to learn about your target market’s questions/problems. One of my favorite topic generation tactics is to find a handful of industry-themed forums and look for common questions. If multiple people are asking the same question in forums, there is a good chance they are asking that question in search queries as well. Why not take the opportunity to post the answer on your company blog? Not only can this turn into a great source of long-tail traffic, it also can accomplish my first point — answering a relevant and important question from the forum thread. Furthermore, if you can link to the blog post in the forum, you get a relevant link (even if it is nofollowed) and a potential source of referral traffic from people who may never have known your brand existed.
Over to You
These two points are scratching the surface on how you can use forums to help your content marketing and lead generation efforts. How have you used forums in the past to help with content marketing? Let me know in the comments.