While part one of this topic introduced LinkedIn’s growing force, your company’s relationship building and community participation should not stop at LinkedIn – technology forums are still being used by millions. Two of the most popular general technology forums are Spiceworks, which boasts two million participants, and IT Knowledge Exchange, where you can gain points and be highlighted as a top contributor. So why should you participate in online forums? These communities can help technology companies in various ways:
1) Become a thought leader in your industry.
According to Holger Shulze’s report from the B2B Technology Marketing Community on LinkedIn, thought leadership is the second most important goal of content marketing. Of those participating in online communities, 49% are searching for experts. Answering and asking questions on forums without over promotion of your products and services will show passion and expertise about your industry.
2) Reach the hard-to-reach.
Some forums cover very niche topics. Participating in these discussions will help you interact directly with a well-targeted and highly-engaged audience.
3) Observe and respond to feedback.
It’s always important to see what your current customers have to say about your brand. It gives your company the opportunity to respond appropriately to positive and negative feedback.
4) Develop new content ideas.
The popular questions and discussions on online forums are exactly what your target market wants to know. One problem with content marketing is producing truly engaging content. These questions and discussions can provide informative topics for blog posts and white papers.
5) Monitor the competition.
As well as observing feedback for your company, you can see what others are saying about your competition. Online forums are good indicators of your target market’s brand awareness and preferences.
Remember to always follow the guidelines laid out by the forum administrators, and try not to do too much marketing right away or you might be considered a spammer! Don’t forget your roots when it comes to social media, online forums can still be a powerful marketing tool for any company.