How to Effectively Use Message Boards and Discussion Lists
by Pam Jones

I've mentioned before about using message boards as a marketing tactic. Becoming involved with various discussions has  been very helpful to me in my own online marketing. When I first got involved with the Internet I didn't know the first thing about messages boards. Information I read told me to get involved with message boards and discussion lists and gave me directories-but didn't really tell me how to use them.

What is a discussion board?

You might see the term discussion board, web forum, newsgroup, message board, bulletin board, etc. All of these are areas on the web where you can post and respond to messages. Discussion boards are similar to a chat room. Both allow users to interact on the web. The main difference is that discussion boards allow you to participate at your convenience, whereas chat rooms require that all users be logged in at the same time.

I found there is a big difference between the various boards, discussion lists and newsgroups. Some are very easy to use. Some allow me to receive an email message when my message is answered or new messages are posted.  Others can be difficult to navigate. Some require a membership to use the board. However, by learning how to use the message boards I have been able to acquire a lot of information I might not have been able to obtain any other way. I have not only received help and advice from others, I have also been able to offer advice and have received a certain amount of traffic due to my involvement in message boards. My only regret is that I don't have time to visit my favorite ones as often as I would like to.

Delphi, among others, allows me to subscribe to various topics and notifies me when there are new messages. This is very convenient when I am working with clients. I wouldn't normally visit those boards on a regular basis, so when I receive my email messages I can check the boards and see if there is something that would be beneficial for my client. This is one way for me to stay informed without a lot of extra work.

The first thing you need to know is how to find a board you would like to become involved in. At the Internet Marketing Resource Center is a list of various message board directories. You can find the list at http://www.i-m-r-c.com/resources/msgbrds.htm. One difficulty with web forums is that conventional search services do not efficiently index forum discussions, so it is a little more difficult to find what you may be looking for.

A good place to start when looking for a discussion group is ForumOne at http://www.forumone.com/index.htm. Choose the category you would like to become involved with and find a discussion group that fills that need.

It can take some scouting and can be a bit time-consuming to find a board that you would like to become involved in, but once you find them and start participating you will find them to be a valuable resource. Some of the message boards I have been involved with I have found through newsletters or from a link at the site. I also subscribe to various announcement lists that keep me informed of new message boards.

When you first become involved with a discussion group read the FAQ's to find out if there are any special posting rules. Read some of the messages and get acquainted with the list. Ask questions, reply to messages, become a part of the community.

You may find that people involved with one list are also involved with other lists pertaining to the same subject matter. Get to know these people. They can be very beneficial for other sources of information.

If you offer vacation travel packages, get involved with message boards that pertain to traveling. You might not always be able to blatantly advertise what you do, but I'm sure you know something about that topic or you wouldn't be in that business. Offer advice, respond to messages appropriately and leave the link to your site with your signature. Many times people will go to your site from the message boards. Once you start becoming involved people will recognize you and if your messages are informative others will start paying attention.

What if you can't find a message board or discussion group that pertains to what you are looking for? Start your own! Announce it to the announcement lists and submit it to the directories. Information on the web is growing at such a fast pace. If you can't find what you are looking for chances are someone else may be looking for the same thing.

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Pam Jones specializes in offering quality information and services that will keep you on the right track with your online marketing to help you increase your profits. Visit the Internet Marketing Resource Center at http://www.i-m-r-c.com, for tips, tools, resources and helpful articles. Or find out about web hosting, website design or redesign, domain name research & registration, online marketing & promotion and website maintenance services at affordable prices for small to medium sized businesses at Clearwater Web Solutions at http://www.clearwaterwebsolutions.com.


 
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