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Technology & InternetBlogging Is Not The (Only) Answer Part 3: Q & A Sites and Forums
Welcome back to the discussion for ways to maximize your content marketing efforts through other means than blogging.
In part two of “Blogging is Not the (Only) Answer,” I talked to you about the pros and cons of guest posting. Guest posting is often the first option marketers consider when looking for places to publish and build a industry reputation other than their own (or company) blog. Rest assured: there are more ways to leverage your knowledge. Today, I will point you towards opportunities on slightly different outlets which allow you to show expertise and build a reputation without the effort, time and money you usually need to create outstanding content.
While personal and heartfelt pieces are an important, necessary and helpful way to formulate an emotional connection to your audience - forums, Question & Answer sites, and comments on other peoples’ content give you a great opportunity to establish expertise without creating content. They allow you to take part in conversation and directly access people who have a particular need, concern or opinion. Accessing these people lets you to be the person, or expert, to provide knowledge, solutions or products.
Note: Be sure to be helpful, rather than promotional. As always in social media, business comes from establishing trust, not from shouting loudly.
Specialized forums are another useful tool. The advantage of a industry or topic related forum is that you can aim your activity at a more focused representation of your target group. Usually, you will want to choose a forum that focuses on a topic where you can demonstrate your specific, professional knowledge. There, you will be introduced to people interested in the topics related to your business. The downside is that this may prohibit getting input from people in parallel professions (as the topic is focused).
Keep in mind that the content you publish on other outlets (your blog, guest blogs or publishing platforms), can be utilized in fitting forums. In your forum discussions, link back (when appropriate) to an article which relates to the topic at hand and provides more in depth analysis or solutions. Besides enhancing the quality of your answer, you allow the reader to gather a greater understanding of your knowledge on the topic and generate more attention to the previous post. (Hint: after you have provided an answer in a forum, create a small teaser article or blog post and include the link to your answer on the forum; ask for opinions and discuss the general points of your content).
Posting in topic forums can be a time consuming way to assert influence, however - if done effectively, you will find yourself amongst a ring of thought leaders who can help propel your ideas. To ensure visibility, combine this strategy with an element of discussion. Interaction and dialogue with people interested in your area of expertise is a great way to establish a reputation as an expert on the chosen topic, within a well-targeted audience. As connection in social media follows communication, these forums sometimes offer a better chance of connecting to people than on a blog with little or no communication.
Q & A sites like Quora and Focus are neither topic nor industry specific, but offer extensive search options to find exactly the questions and topics relevant to your business. Instead of creating content about the topics you have identified as relevant to your business, you can propose and answer questions - learning from other leaders and demonstrating your knowledge. In your questions and answers, you can link back to your own page/content (when it makes sense). With intelligent answers in your professional field, you can add to your online reputation and attract a following directly to your site.
Commenting on other people’s articles (or questions) is also a great way to (tactfully) assert your point of view and exhibit industry knowledge. As social media and content marketing is a lot about communication, interaction and connection, joining in on discussions is sometimes a more successful way to inspire interest in your ideas than publishing an article yourself. Be aware that your comments may or may not be able to provide the link back to your site.
As you get a feel for forums, Q&A sites, and commenting you will begin to feel confident about the fast and efficient ways to tap into a desirable amount of exposure. In the meantime, stay tuned for another round of “Blogging is Not the (Only) Answer” to find out how to apply what you already know from your offline networking efforts, to social media marketing online.
Much more information about social media and content marketing, can be found on the company profile of exploreB2B (klick on "articles of employees").