Today’s guest post is from Patrick O’Keefe, owner of the iFroggy Network and the author of the book “Managing Online Forums,” a practical guide to managing online forums, communities and social spaces. He blogs at ManagingCommunities.com and is on Twitter as @iFroggy.

Some people consider forums old hat. But they are still a vital foundation of the social web, used by just as many people as blogs and social networking sites, according to a Forrester research survey conducted last year.

They can be powerful traffic drivers, but they can also be protective and sensitive to outsiders. But, if you do your homework, participate genuinely and approach them with respect, you can benefit from your participation with increased awareness of your Web site, company or brand.

Here are four simple rules for generating traffic from forums:

  • Observe first, act second. Before you do anything, check out the forums simply as a reader. See how people participate and what the social norms are. Check out the guidelines (or rules) and read them thoroughly. You’ll want to make sure that you respect these to the absolute letter. If you are unsure about anything, always ask a member of the site’s staff first. And, since you are looking to generate traffic, make sure that you are at least allowed to link to your site in your signature.
  • Fill out your profile, especially your signature. Once you’ve determined that links are allowed in your signature, put them there. Link to the product, Web site, whatever it is that you are looking to share with people. If you are allowed a profile homepage URL, use it. Be tasteful. Don’t go to a community on flowers and put a link in your signature begging people to join your community about flowers.
  • Want to be there. You have to want to be there. This means that you enjoy participating and will be the very best member that you can be. Share your opinions in a helpful, thoughtful way. Have fun and share appropriate humor. Help others. Participate in a manner that is consistent with you and your brand. Never fall into the trap of arguing with someone in a way that would reflect negatively on you; personal attacks and name calling have no place.
  • Don’t mention your Web site. Yes, you read that right. Do not mention your Web site in posts or refer to your signature, unless it is abundantly, extremely clear that it is acceptable. This isn’t your Twitter account or your Facebook page – this is the community space. The way you generate traffic from forums is generally through your signature. You do great things, you help people, and you make good posts. That makes people look at your signature and your profile, which is how you receive traffic.

Image credit, iStock

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15 Responses to “4 simple rules for generating traffic from forums”

  1. [...] wrote a guest post for SmartBlog on Social Media that was published on Monday. It’s called “4 Simple Rules for Generating Traffic from Forums.” That title is pretty descriptive – it’s a simple, straightforward guide for those who want to [...]

  2. [...] wrote a guest post for SmartBlog on Social Media that was published on Monday. It’s called “4 Simple Rules for Generating Traffic from Forums.” That title is pretty descriptive – it’s a simple, straightforward guide for those who want to [...]

  3. [...] Check out this featured blog post on SmartBlog on Social Media written by Patrick O’Keefe, owner of the iFroggy Network and author of the book “Managing Online Forums.” Here he wrote about the 4 simple rules for generating traffic from forums. [...]

  4. I think it's a bad idea to go looking around on forums because you "want more traffic". I really am a wholehearted believer in genuine community participation – if you're trying to promote a community by visiting other communities, you're missing the point, in my opinion.

    Instead, you should be visiting other forums and actively participating because you are genuinely interested in having good social interaction and building relationships with other members of the community. The promotion of your own community should only be an added benefit to the friendships you are building.

  5. Maria says:

    Thank you for sharing this advice! I recently had a rather negative experience with a forum. While I did provide useful information on the posts I wrote in the forum, I also provided links back to the company blog of my client. However, I am quite upset, that links to other "commercial" websites (I consider Blogs with Google Ads as commercial, even though the line between commercial and non commercial blogs is not very established) were not edited, while my links were. I understand the point that some forums do not allow links to commercial websites, however, this should be an overall rule that is applied to everybody. On our blog, we do not use pushy sales talk (I am very much against that!), but helpful advice for travelers and things to do at several locations. I made sure that every blog I linked to, did not have any reference to the company name in the body of the text! Well, I guess spammers and pushy marketers have done quite some damage in this respect and made forum and website administrators a little too weary about advertisement on their sites.

    Thanks again for sharing!!!

    Maria

  6. [...] Selecting a forum for bloggers that suits your needs can be a challenge. There are many different ways to measure forums. One is by counting its active members, and another is by measuring how effective moderators are at removing spammers and trolls. If a forum community is too small there will be insufficient critical mass to sustain it. If it’s too large  the  forum atmosphere  maybe too noisy, too cliquey, or otherwise problematic. Darren Rowse of problogger recommends: Spend some time today searching for forums in your niche. Once you find them, join up and start participating. The key is to spend time being as useful as possible to the forum. Your main activity should NOT be leaving links to your blog but answering questions, making connections and generally being as useful as you can to other members of the forum. — Join a Forum and Start Participating Patrick O’Keefe,  author of the book “Managing Online Forums,” a practical guide to managing online forums, communities and social spaces emphasizes making sure that you are at least allowed to link to your site in your signature and  provides four simple rules for generating traffic from forums. [...]

  7. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Patrick O’Keefe: If you are even thinking of trying to generate traffic from forums as a member, PLEASE read this: http://bit.ly/1x7VyR

  8. [...] that it’ll be cool to slip your link into posts. If you want to gain traffic from my forums, this is how. Otherwise, it’s just not happening. Find a community that allows you to do it and go there. [...]

  9. This is great, I'm running a forum where we have a LOT of people working at companies who think that listing 9000 things they may or may not make and offering to supply them is the height of community involvement. I'm including a link to this in the welcome letter that all new users get. In my b2b world people will try to sell each other things, that could be good.

  10. itartHowkat says:

    likeable answers i like it

  11. Thanks for this great post. I have made many SEO or linkbuilding techniques before. I am very much challenge when it comes to forums because of its many restrictions. But I am starting to like forum posting because I have to deal things patiently. Forum posting requires a very long patience to work effectively. Thanks
    My recent post 6 Ways to Let Google Optimize Your Business

  12. James says:

    Forums have always been a great source of traffic for many. But to be honest, the members can smell someone who just wants to promote his or her site from a mile away. The best way to drive traffic to your site from forums is just like the post says; you've got to fit in. You really have to join and be part of the community. The good thing is if you really integrate yourself within the community, then you will see that it will drive a lot of traffic to your site.
    My recent post A Martial Artist’s View of Ronin &amp Robert De Niro

  13. Adam Clarke says:

    I find that wanting to be there is really a huge contributing factor to whether or not you will successfully boost traffic from forums.
    My recent post Are You A Victim Of Approval Addiction

  14. It is hard not to believe that social media is the newest power tool to be used by large corporate in marketing products and ideas. However, it requires somewhat of a change in Marketing perspective… Just like the break through when drill bit manufactures realized that the public was not looking for a drill-bit but rather a hole, so today, people want to buy products based on recommendations from users especially their friends, and Social Media is the link that makes this happen.

  15. Social media has been moving in the right direction at lightning speed.

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