Over the years, many people have tried to create active online forums for professional, technical subjects. A few niche ones have made it, but the web is littered with far more forums that have nothing but tumbleweed blowing through them. Now, however, LinkedIn seems to be starting to crack the problem. If you haven’t taken a look recently, it’s worth investigating whether there are groups relevant to one of your product categories or end-user market sectors. Many people who do so for the first time find – to their horror – that one of their competitors has been exploiting the forum for some time without reply.
Answering questions and getting involved in discussions on LinkedIn is a good thing to do, just to create a dialogue with the direct participants. But don’t forget that the answers will be archived and discovered for years to come.
Even better still, in my opinion, is the prompting that industry forums can give you to create something on your own website, which will subsequently be found through other means. If one person has been driven to ask a question online, there’s a good chance others are thinking the same thing, and they’re far more likely to be searching for the answer on Google.
For example, supposing someone asks: “Can anyone recommend spending more on a blue widget than a traditional red one?” and that you know the answer. Produce a short article on your own website to explain things, then summarise what you’ve written as an answer on LinkedIn, referring to your own website article.
As a final tip, think how people might phrase that search on Google, and concentrate your article around that. With the question above, although they might phrase things that way in a forum, as a Google search they’d probably enter: “blue widget cost advantages compared to red” or something like that.