Business Forums and Chat Rooms
Business Forums and chat rooms on the Internet are a place or a site where people virtually meet to discuss various business topics. Business forums are places where business owners meet to talk about business and anyone who wants to know more about business can participate. (meta description)
These forums can be helpful in a lot of ways for both starters and experts in business and participating on business forums has a number of benefits.
Firstly, participating in business forums can help you introduce your business to other people without spending money for advertising. Forums allow you to have direct contact with other people whether they are fellow businessmen or potential clients; therefore, you get a chance to introduce your business.
Next, because you are able to introduce your business to other people through forums, many people will know about it especially those who require whatever information, products or services you offer.
Thirdly, you will be able to gather fresh ideas at forums. All business owners have different strategies they use and whilst you may have your own strategy, when you visit forums, you will also learn of unique and wonderful ideas for your business that you can apply to be successful.
Spamming chat rooms or instant messaging systems with undifferentiated marketing messages is certainly not a very good idea. But if they are used the right way, these channels can be great to communicate with the market - especially to establish a dialogue with customers.
Chat rooms are usually broken into categories. You will need to find the right chat room where your targeted audience would gather. If there isn’t one, them you may need to create one.
It will be of no use to create one that is obviously for the sole purpose of selling your product or service. Rather, it needs to attract people who would be interested in your product or service. For example: If you sell garden products, your chat room should be on the subject of gardening and not the brand name of the products you sell.
Another way to use a chat room to promote your business is to include a chat room on your web site. Host a free online seminar in your own chat room about a subject of your expertise. Use your chat room to meet with your current customers and answer any questions or address and problems they may have. Regularly schedule free events in your chat room and be certain that your customers are made aware of when they will occur.
For example, you might have an expert in the field available to answer questions on a certain day and between certain hours. You might, also, host other people’s chat rooms as an expert yourself. You, of course, could charge for this but it might be wise to do it free to gain publicity.
A business forum, or message board, is an online discussion site where people can hold conversations in the form of posted messages. They differ from chat rooms in that messages are at least temporarily archived. Also, depending on the access level of a user or the forum set-up, a posted message might need to be approved by a moderator before it becomes visible.
Forums have a specific set of jargon associated with them; e.g. a single conversation is called a "thread".
A discussion forum is hierarchical or tree-like in structure: a forum can contain a number of sub-forums, each of which may have several topics. Within a forum's topic, each new discussion started is called a thread, and can be replied to by as many people as so wish.
Forums are governed by a set of individuals, collectively referred to as staff, made up of administrators and moderators, which are responsible for the forums' conception, technical maintenance, and policies (creation and enforcing). Most forums have a list of rules detailing the wishes, aim and guidelines of the forums creators. There is usually also a FAQ section contain basic information for new members and people not yet familiar with the use and principles of a forum (generally tailored for specific forum software).
Rules on forums usually apply to the entire user body and often have preset exceptions, most commonly designating a section as an exception. For example, in a business forum any discussion regarding anything but business may be against the rules, with the exception of a general chat section.
Forums differ from chats and instant messaging in that forum participants do not have to be online simultaneously to receive or send messages. Messages posted to a forum are publicly available for some time even if the forum or thread is closed, which is uncommon in chat rooms that maintain frequent activity.
One rarity among forums is the ability to create a picture album. Forum participants may upload pictures onto the site and add descriptions to the pictures. Pictures may be in the same format as posting threads, and contain the same options such as "Report Post" and "Reply to Post".
A Bulletin Board System, or BBS, is a computer system running software that allows users to connect and log in to the system using a terminal program. Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users, either through email or in public message boards.
The term chat room, or chatroom, is primarily used by mass media to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing. The term can thus mean any technology ranging from real-time online chat over instant messaging and online forums to fully immersive graphical social environments.
The reason why forums are so popular is because they are engaging. In a forum, “forumers” are given the maximum real person to people interaction. Unlike Chats or Instant Messaging, a forum can let a person interact with not just one or two persons; in a forum, you can practically let the entire world know about what you think or feel. And what is more beautiful is that there can be anonymity in a forum. Well, being anonymous has its own advantages and disadvantages but let us not dwell on it. The important thing about it is that, in a forum, you can choose to be or not to be anonymous.
Another very nice thing about forums is that they provide participants the feeling of community and kinship with other forum members. Even if at times, you may not know each other, it is comforting to know that you share things in common. In most instances, participants really develop connection; we are not talking about internet connection but a real personal connection. Sometimes, conversations just don’t end up in the forums; others may even correspond in emails and end up talking on the phone. In other words, by participating in a forum, access to companionship, acquaintances, closeness and even relationships, is easy.
Aside from the social interactions happening in forums, there are also forums that are more into the professional side and/or forums that target a specific community such as forums for the marketing community, for the writing community, for oppressed women, for women in general, and even for specific societies and organizations. The same thing goes for this kind of forums; people interact, share ideas, plans, help and support each other and/or simply talk to each other. The only difference is that they mostly talk about a specific topic. For instance, a forum for women only talks about issues that are unique to women such as PMS, menopause, make-up tips, women’s career and the like.
The usefulness of forums are too many to mention. Suffice it to say, in a forum, the interaction is limitless. You can ask for advice, give advice, share experiences, help others, gain friends, or just simply connect with other people in the most convenient way possible,
There are so many forums nowadays -- from marketing forums, women’s forums, love forums, writing forums, self help forums, support group forums etc. etc. and it is not surprising that the number of participants also rise with the number of forums. It just goes to show that people need people, for interaction, for fun, for opinion, for relationships, or for anything else - there’s always a forum for it.
Have you ever done a search on Google and found your answer in forum threads? Try typing in almost any question into Google and you will find many of the answers in online forum threads. Forums get indexed by the search engines like crazy! Also, most forum posts are permanent. They do not usually get deleted.
As a marketer how do you use the power of online forums to promote your business? First you must realize that each forum has strict rules. On most forums you cannot just regsiter then start posting ads. You will be banned from most forums for doing this.
First, find forums which relate to the topic of your website. Then join these forums and start to become a regular contributor. Answer questions, ask questions, contribute valuable information without promoting your website.
Most forums will allow you to have a signature file. This is a short tagline which will be added to the end of your posts with your name and the url of your website. Use the signature function to promote yourself on forums not the body of the post.
If you start making regular, appropriate posts in top forums in your industry you signature file will get indexed in the search engines with the keywords that are used in the posts. Also you will start to be know as an expert in your industry.
There are, however, forums which will allow blatant advertising! These are usually called free advertising forums. These forums actually encourage you to post blatant ads for your website. The advantage of free advertising forums is that you can post your ads every day without being accused of spamming the forums. The disadvantage is that most people just go on these forums to post ads and they do not enter into a dialogue with other members. Therefore your ad is not seen as many times as on real forums. However if you get creative with your titles you can still get real visitors to your posts on free advertising forums.
You have two strategies when using forums to promote your business online. One is to become a regular contributor on quality forums in your industry. This is more of a long term strategy. Two is to use free advertising forums which allow ads.
Both strategies work.
Using Social Networking Websites to Promote Your Business
The goal of most business owners is to make money. This often results with the selling of a particular product or service. However, to sell that product or service business owners need to alert the general public. Customer cannot buy a product or a service if they do not know that it exists. That is why, as a business owner, you need to advertise your business.
When it comes to advertising there are many business owners who literally cringe. Are you doing this now? There is a good chance that you are because many advertising methods cost money. As a business owner you want to make money not spend it, right? Unfortunately, if you believe that all forms of advertising take money, you are sadly mistaken. Although you may have to spend money to make your business what you want it to be, there are ways to promote your business and the products or services that you sell without having to spend any money at all.
One of the ways that you can promote your online business, without having to spend a dime, is by using something that is readily available online. That thing is an online social networking website. A large number of internet users, in fact millions of them, belong to at least one social networking website.
When it comes to social networking, there are many individuals who think of online friendships or online relationships. While these types of relationships are the most common, did you know that social networking is also used for businesses? In fact, that was originally how social networking got started. If you are a small business owner, especially one that operates an online business, there is a way that you can use social networking sites to your advantage.
Although social networking websites are traditionally focused on those that would like to make online friends or develop online relationships, there are networking sites that are designed for business owners. These websites will not only allow you to share your business information with other business owners, but it will also allow you to develop close relationships with those that share an interest that is similar to yours. Essentially, this means that you could not only learn valuable business information, but you could also walk away with a new business partner or a new friend.
Social networking websites with a focus on businesses, are a great way to promote your business. However, this does not mean that you should completely forget about the other online social networking websites, the ones that are designed to make online friendships. Although you may not learn any valuable business tips by joining Yahoo! 360 or MySpace, you may be able to get new customers and new customers is exactly what your business should want and need.
If you are looking to join an online community, you will need to create your own profile or profile page. If you are planning on joining a traditional social networking website, to gain access to millions of potential new customers, you are urged to be careful when making your online webpage or profile. One thing that internet users hate is being solicited for business. This does not mean that you cannot use social networking to your advantage; it just means that you need to be careful with how you do it. Instead of creating a MySpace page or a Yahoo! 360 page for your business, you are advised to make one for yourself, but, of course, you will want to include information on your business.
By joining a social networking website, especially one that is popular and has a large number of members, you should be able to generate interest in your business, including the products or services that you sell. Who knows, but that interest generated could turn into sales; thus making your social networking experience more than worth it.
Blogging on a Social Network
Blogging is becoming increasingly popular and social networks are also becoming more and more popular as well. Social networks include popular websites such as MySpace.com where users can create personal websites and interact with other users. These websites may include a wide range of components including text, images, audio, video and blogs. Here system users can voice their opinions, provided updates on their life, offer insight into current events or accomplish a number of other goals. However, bloggers who utilize a social network to maintain their blog should consider a few different factors. This article will discuss some of these factors including whether to make the blogs available to the public or keep the private, considering the audience of the blog and dealing with harassment through the blog.
Making Blogs Private or Public
Most social networks enable users to make their website either private or public. Private websites are only available to the user and other users he specifically approves to view his website while public websites are available to all users of the system. These same capabilities also apply to the blogs which are maintained on a social network. For this reason bloggers must determine whether or not they wish to make their blog posts available to the entire social network or to only a fraction of this network.
This decision will be largely based on a matter of personal preference. Social networks can be quite extensive and some bloggers may be apprehensive about their blog being available to such a large audience while other bloggers may have no apprehensions about the size of the potential audience. Bloggers should carefully consider this option before staring a blog but always have the option to change these settings after the blog has been established if they change their mind about the choice they originally made.
Considering the Blog Audience
Bloggers who utilize a social network to maintain a blog should also carefully consider the potential audience for the blog. Most social networks include a broad cross section of the general public. Therefore bloggers should be aware of this audience when posting a blog and should consider how the blog entries will be interpreted by blog audience members. While it will never be possible to avoid offending all potential audience members some bloggers may wish to consider at least attempting to ensure the blog entries they post are appropriate for all members of the social network. If this is not possible the blogger may consider making the blog private.
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