A Social media outlet that people often overlook is the forum. While sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and LinkedIn get a lot of attention when people are focusing on social media, many people forget about the saliency of forums when it comes to Making a reputation for your business online.
The great thing about a forum is that its an easy place to establish a reputation of expertise. What you should absolutely not do is join a forum and start spamming it with ads for your business. This will only annoy the other users of the forum, and could possibly end up getting your account deleted by the moderators of the forum itself.
The best way to use a forum is to join one that is specifically related to your area of interest and product sales and start offering advice. For example, if you own a car dealership, you should look for dealership-related forums that pertain to the kinds of autos you sell. Then, you put in the address of your website or social media profile in the signature area of your profile and start answering questions. Giving out advice for free sounds like it might not be the best way to end up producing revenue, but once you can establish yourself as an expert on the forums, you can start drawing people into being curious about your products and services. After all, if youre so helpful on the forum, you might have something useful to offer in the realm of sales, as well.
Another way to drum up trust in your business area using forums is to create your own forum. Of course, youll need to go through proper Advertising channels in order to make people aware of your forum, but this is a great thing to announce on your Twitter feeds and Facebook profiles! If you can get a lively forum going that is directly attached to the website you have for your offline business, its a great way to get traffic to your site and a lot more customers, since youll have daily traffic to the forum. A successful forum might even have thousands of hits per day!
Establishing a reputation of excellence and expertise is the lifeblood of any small business. As its likely that youre competing with a big box store of some sort, your bread and butter is the personal touch that you can add to your customers experience. When the business is online, or when youre advertising your offline business online, a great place to show that you actually do possess both excellence and expertise is by engaging people on forums. In this way, you start building relationships of trust with the online contingent, and draw them further into your store and products.