Generating Forum Noise

Gianfranco Berardi brings up some interesting thoughts on posting in forums.

At one point I realized that I really shouldn’t talk like I knew what I was saying when I didn’t really know about the topic…

Which was good because I didn’t spend so much time on the forums and was able to direct my energies to more productive matters. I can’t get paid for being one of the top five posters on the board, and I definitely don’t have as much advice on the business-end of things as other people might to justify that many posts

Coincidentally, I’ve been struggling with this very topic.

Forums and blogs are interesting resources for both sharing information and marketing.

To participate, you need to strike a very careful balance. It’s easy to get sucked into these sites and simply waste time. It’s almost like watching television. Sometimes there is something interesting to learn, but most of the time its just noise.

It seems the forums and blogs I read are usually frequented by three types of people:

1. Experts sharing their knowlege (for various reasons)
2. People who are looking for a community to fit into
3. Beginners trying to find their way

Sometimes, people fit into more than one of these categories other times they progress up the ladder.

How do you benefit the most from participating in the community?

It’s easy to be in the #3 category, everybody has to start some place. The Beginners actually provide a great service, they usually initiate the conversation by asking a question. Then the experts usually provide the answers. This is where the greatest value is created.

This is also when the experts get to advertise or market their services and products. By displaying their knowledge and sharing their experience; this attracts visitors to their home pages were they can sell their products and services.

The danger is falling into the trap of Category #2. This happens when I comment on things to either get exposure or because I feel the need to participate or belong. Usually, this is a waste of time.

With this type of participation, I’m only wasting time and space since I’m not really adding anything new to the conversation.

These comments usually don’t produce any sales or leads, because I haven’t offered any incentive for anyone to click on my “post signature” that leads back to my web site.

Worst of all, these types of posts only serve to seduce me into wasting time following noise filled forum discussions while adding little value and keeping me away from getting any work done.

So, the question is how do I participate in forum or blog discussions, add real value, generate sales leads, and not waste time?

I guess I have to become an expert.