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Ways to promoting your products online thru chat forums

Most of the small business clients using COR Services have something in common — the obsession with seeking out how to promote your products and web site online (Obsession is a good characteristic here because it is a driving motivating force).  One such client brought a product to market and started down the journey of striving to "get it out there". 

One suggestion I brought to the attention of one of their sales staff stemmed from the following discovery:  One day I was doing a online search for their product as well as words and terms associated with their product.  Inevitably the search results contained a abundance of web sites that run forums and discussions on their product topics as well as comment sections for product review.  A gold mine!  These interactive social media discussion pages represent an audience that is actively seeking out information that you are trying to get to them!   Go ahead and try it... (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Ask, AOL).  Open up a new tab and do a quick search for your product or related terms (also use the term "reviews of" with your terms).  Click on some of the links, especially ones that look like discussions or that come from social sites such as Facebook or Yelp.  (Facebook is it's own "people aggregator" which can be addressed separately, right now we are looking for independent social media chat sites that display on the first few pages of your search).

These are good places to join the discussion and leave information about some of the products and services you offer, or direct them to assets such as videos on YouTube or your web site.  If they come up in the search you did, they are likely to come up in the searches your potential customers are doing.  These information seekers will likely want to read what others have to say and will scan the discussion. 

Aside from the direct exposure to a seeker for your product, there is the matter of placing a quality link back to your web site to improve your ranking.  This is for the benefit of search engine crawlers and rankers.  If you have good links sprinkled over the web pointing back to your site it tells search engines their is something worthy at your site, especially if people click on the links.  These things don't go unnoticed by search engine crawlers.

These discussion sites and forums will usually have you register with their site to leave comments and to participate.  I recommend creating a special "PR" email account just for the purpose of interacting with these social participation sites.  In notepad, or some other notation program, you can keep a log of these sites, their URL, your login credentials and any other information you might need. 

I also recommend using a mail handler such as Thunderbird or Outlook so you can manage multiple email accounts all from one application.  If you don't set up the email account on your server, and use a service like Gmail or live, make sure these services can interact with your mail handler; for instance, a free Gmail account can be set up in mail handlers but if you have a free Hotmail account it won't.  If you set the email up on your server you have the benefit of your domain extension in the email address, unless you deem this undesirable... than a Gmail account might be the way to go.

There are some things to keep in mind here... first off, you are a guest on their site so be polite and mindful of their rules as well as the purpose they are hosting the discussion.  Participate in the discussion and tactfully bring up your product as opposed to a "shameless plug" or a "copy and paste" entry.  Be a good guest!  The site will usually allow you to post links and contact information but some sites screen this out.  If they have a automated scrubber for links and phone numbers there is usually a way around it, like spelling out your domain name or email address (yoursite dot com), you might want to indicated this in your log.  You loose some of the link-back ranking benefits if they scrub the links, but you still have reference to your site for potential customers who have come their actively seeking this information. 

The down side posting to these forums, slight as it may be, is that you can't control the discussion, so a well crafted entry is always desirable to present your product in the best possible light and mitigate any negativity from other posters.  You also want to make sure your entry stands out if there are a lot of entries.

There is a lot of potential opportunity for product exposure posting across the internet but it can also take a little bit of time to register, read and post.  If you make it part of your daily business routine you can spend a little time each day doing a posting or two and in a matter of a few months have a nice spread of exposure and link backs sprinkled across the internet.  Just allocate a small amount of time routinely and have fun with it!  With persistence you'll probably notice a change reflected in your analytics and, if done right, in your sales.


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