Good Day Class!
Today, we have the honor of having her as our substitute teacher (guest writer).
Tracy will discuss another source of traffic to our blogs we often forget about – forums. As the owner and administrator of I Hate My Message Board Forum, she’s here to share the rules of engagement.
Without further ado, here’s Tracy.
It’s great to be here.
Please take a moment to review the exhibit and then we’ll get on with the lesson.
Forums can be a good traffic source for bloggers. I estimate 15% of my traffic comes from forums.
It can be an ego booster and deliver new readers or you can feel personally attacked and helpless.
Here are some hints on what to do when you find a forum link in your referrals.
Decide if what, if any, action you’ll take.
I get a kick out of the Air Force’s blogger engagement chart and I think it applies to forums, too. There is no need to respond to posters who are hostile to you and it will probably backfire.
Likewise, if they are just happily discussing the contents of your post, you have no obligation to respond if you aren’t interested or don’t have the time. If you would like to respond, keep these points in mind:
Don’t spam or overly self-promote .
Forum owners are inundated with spam and could remove your post if it seems like you are only there for self-promotion or to sell something.
If the forum allows it, you can put a link to your blog in your signature, but I’d be hesitant to ask people to subscribe or provide additional links back to your blog, unless they are directly related to the topic being discussed.
Do the posters have questions that you can answer? Do you have additional information that’s helpful? Can you provide other resources?
Helping others is a great way to establish your expertise and get people interested enough to take a deeper look at your blog. Remember, forums are indexed by search engines, too!
Debate but use caution.
Just like comments on our own blogs, the key is to state your argument without losing your cool or being insulting. Show off your wit, but be gracious.
I think that it would be wise to do a quick scan of other posts on the forum to get a feel for the general culture. Some welcome a lively discussion while others are more geared to people saying what they think and that’s that. On the latter, it would go over better to simply thank them for reading your post, if you want to say anything at all.
If it gets ugly, leave.
There is no reason at all for you to subject yourself to people insulting you or not being respectful. You don’t owe them any explanations, chances are they’ll forget quickly that you posted once or twice and left but getting visibly upset can be a red flag to some internet users.
Consider linking back.
If the conversation went well and you think your blog readers would enjoy it, sharing the link is appropriate but not obligatory.
But don’t trash talk.
If it didn’t go well, it’s tempting to post a rant on you blog. You’ll likely get a lot of sympathetic comments, but again, red flag to others. If you want to discuss it, do it after you’ve cooled down.
Forum traffic can be very valuable.
Taking a moment to think before you act can save you unnecessary headaches and possibly earn you traffic years to come. It’s upsetting sometimes when people are talking about our posts in a medium where we have no control, but take comfort that it’s a sign that you’re on the map.
Have you been linked to from forums?
Did you reply on the forum or address it on your blog?
Do you actively use forums as a source of traffic? If not, why not?
Raise your hand and share your thoughts.
Tracy is the author of I Hate My Message Board blog, I Hate My Message Board Forum as well as I Hate My Message Board – Life and Style blog. When she’s not blogging or administering her forum, Tracy can be found on Twitter.