Forums and Social Media Marketing

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For the past few days there has been some open discussions around the web professional communities about the role of forums in modern internet marketing. It appears that new marketers strongly underestimate the power of forums and look at them as an old marketing tool that will soon be extinct.

I believe forums will not be eliminated by the modern social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. Forums have been here since mid nineties and survived many web revolutions and Renaissances. If you look at the modern social media you will see not much has been invented on the web since the appearance of modern forum software. New social media websites are in the core, nothing more then differently organized good old forums.

Chris Crum of the WebProNews wrote a nice article yesterday about forums and social media and asked for feedback. As you can see, people tend to agree that forums are still very good source of relevant traffic that new internet marketers should not underestimate.

For better visualization of what I’m going to talk about, I made this table / graph.


If we would assume that all this elements are actually valued the same, we could sum things up and say that forums have 17 stars while modern social media channels earned themselves only 13 stars. This leads us to conclusion that forums are still even more useful as internet marketing tool then most modern social media networks.

SEO value of links

Both forums and most of the modern social networks have really low SEO link value. Forum links have been devalued by major search engines for quiet some time now while most social networks links are either no followed or, even worse, not indexed at all. Using these channels for SEO value is mostly only good for getting indexed but you will get *some* link juice out of it so it’s not completely negligible.

I’d still give a little bit of advantage to the forums in this paragraph as they give you a really good control over the anchors you will use for your links and also give you one really important ability, ability to change your mind. At any moment you can change your forum signatures which will automatically edit all of your life’s work on this forum and turn all your posts into the links to your new point of interest, while in most of the social networks out there you don’t have such an ability.

Traffic value of links

When we’re comparing forums to the social networks in traffic point of view, both of them have really strong and different arguments on their sides. While social networks are winner in short term traffic benefit, forums totally win in the long run. If we look at the modern social networks you will see they are really fast. Once you post a link, you will get a few hours of benefit out of it and that’s a s good as it gets. They have an advantage in general traffic volume potential so forums can’t compete with them in the short period of time. However, most of these networks are not even indexed by search engines and if they are they rank so purely, you shouldn’t expect to get any traffic from a link you posted last year on a social network, while forums have great potential to bring you low but long lasting traffic income.

Niche targeting

Forums have been here for a really long time. This is why there are lots of broad and targeted niche forum communities out there. Social networks on the other hand are still pretty green and new in the niche markets and most of the very targeted markets are still not covered by any social networks. While you can find great social networks in broad niches such as business, you won’t be able to find really targeted social networks with noticeable community volume.

About Toni Anicic

eCommerce Consultant

SEO. Professional gaming. Home-brewed beer. Magento Certified Solution Specialist.

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  1. Loved these! all tips are useful and informative. For a long time, I was looking for such post. Thanks for sharing these social media company tips with us.

  2. Well most forums are no-followed. But if you want active (and followed) forum signatures, I guess you have to make 30+ or more posts to do that.

    The time posting those 30+ post could be used somewhere.

  3. Even do-follow forum signatures devalued by search engines? IMO, the SEs need to be more complex; yes some forums are crap and others are moderated very well. the SEs shouldn’t lump them all the same, factors that it should measure should be Relevancy of the Forum and How well the forum is moderated.

  4. Very informative… Forum posting does help to certain extend but social media has over ruled as to get traffic to your site.

  5. It would be interesting to see how the situation today. Social networks are becoming more developed and it is impossible not to notice their increasing association with other Web services and tools. Also, social networks and search engines support each other more than ever before.

  6. Wow! Excellent post! very informative. By the way I’m also curious about what you mentioned in the first paragraph, do you have the links for this discussion?

  7. There are two groups of people visiting forums and these are integral part of social media marketing– constant community members and guests. The former ones use forums on regular basis not only for resolution of their issues but also for communication; the latter visit forums occasionally, mainly through search engines.

  8. Informative article! I really like when you compare forums and social media based on marketing. All I can say is that forums is for linking and page rank while social media is for traffic.

  9. Can’t think of any right now, just follow marketers on social media sites and you will see what I’m talking about 🙂

  10. Great article, thanks a lot! Any chance of any links to those marketers you mention in the first para – the ones who think that forums will soon be extinct?

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