Forums – making sure you get a business return on your efforts!

Since this is the intro section for the forum - I thought this would be the right place to introduce anyone new to how to operate within a forum in general to get the best business return from your interactions here! (and any other forum).

Below is a blog piece I wrote on getting the most out of forums and may or not be useful! But definitely worth posting here also!

This forum is a wonderful community of people working in wholesale, trade, online selling etc etc and the wealth of advice is immense, below is a alightly tongue in cheek guide to how to get the most of your time here :)

---

I was new to forum sites when I got involved www.thewholesaleforums.co.uk (TSC) around 3 years ago – my experience before that had been mostly when pieces of technology broke down and I wanted to know ‘How do I restart an iPhone?’ or ‘My child got confused - how do you get toast out a Samsung VCR?’ and there were useful groups of people on the internet with answers to my VERY URGENT questions. I never really gave much thought to who the people were and what motivated them.

Now I run a forum site and often see sole traders or companies coming in and trying to navigate forums and make them work for them, then getting frustrated when they don’t get any traction. So, thought it would be useful to put a high level guide together for the golden rules.

  1. DON’T SPAM – be relevant or step away from your keyboard. This is the biggie. Even if you’ve only seen LinkedIn groups this should make sense. If a group are spending time and energy having an interesting discussion on ‘What do you think of eBay seller restrictions?’ – Dusty from Texas writing ‘500 PCS Apple iPad $5 each SHIPPING’ will not get a response, and will probably get reported and removed. It’s like interrupting someone watching a RomCom film mid-sentence with a Cillit Bang advert. No one will be interested and they’ll probably hate you a little bit.
  1. Involvement – it’s a community not your personal promotion platform. Think about forum members for a second, they are an engaged community of people who genuinely care about the subject matter of the forum – whether it’s wholesale or Apple products, or holidays. On TSC it never ceases to amaze me how much advice and help members are willing to provide each other on their area of expertise. You can’t simply arrive and start promoting your business without offering something to the community – take the time to understand the members, converse with them and help them out. Then people will want to do business with you.
  1. Engagement – converse don’t shout. Imagine you’re having a nice conversation in the pub about what you think about how Mourinho manages Chelsea, and someone walks in and shouts ‘I SELL FOOTBALLS’, you ignore them because they’re social inept, the conversation moves on and they shout ‘HELLO, WANT TO SELL TO YOU’. The result – YOU ALL MOVE AWAY. You don’t walk into a party of strangers and shout disembodied sentences at them… so don’t do it on a forum site – social nuances get more complex without being face to face not easier. Respect that.
  1. Reputation – be an angel not a troll. Respect and reciprocate – help people and they won’t forget and they will in listen to what you’re about. Forum sites are not twitter – and you are not a troll, your goal should be to create professional reputation, not create attention for yourself. If you come in and are rude and unconstructive to people, you might have entertained yourself whilst you would otherwise have been watching Eastenders – but you will not create business. Be constructive, have discussions, push your opinion – but with respect, and the goal in mind to help the community.
In the end – the key is to be interested and interesting and, as in life, that will get you respect, and ultimately business. There are no short cuts – but, they are excellent places with an incredible ability to be a 24/7 networking event in a virtual hub. You will gain expertise, help others and build reputation directly in your industry with relevant people – never underestimate that.
 

Jed

Feb 16, 2009
8,904
927
1,411
UK
you deffo have come a long way I would say to where you are today
MC ULAK here dropping the beats
 
  • Like
Reactions: Helen and ULAK
Apr 30, 2015
115
33
305
b5c789fc3adc7cca5c84734ff98c5ae7.jpg
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jed and Helen
Sep 26, 2012
2,870
1,226
1,555
37
London, UK
Let me make my piece on here as well ;)

I have been working in a forum community for more than 5 years now. While a few might know, I used to work as a Game Master for, well, computer games (which some in the video game field know as MMORPGs). A major role is to handle the community of gamers who play the game, whether catching cheaters, moderating conflicts, or even creating activities / events. Now with every game comes a forum community, in which I also used to manage.

Well you might say that does not qualify me to manage a business community, but it does. Primarily, this is a forum community. Might I say that handling a gaming community is way worse than handling a business community. But most definitely, the same thing applies to a forum, so let's compare how things work out from 2 communities of different nature:

1. You don't get your name out there overnight, you have to work on it
Oh yes, in a gamer's logic, a forum is a place to become popular. They try to do everything to get to the top of the leaderboards, win events, or even recommendations for help. But that does not happen in just a few days. In a gamer forum, you will not just see rants, quarrels, and challenges, but most often, the recognised ones are the players who put up guides, tips, ideas, on how to tackle certain aspects of the game. These players get a lot of thanks in the process, which leads to a credible player, and thus easily gets popular within the game. This applies all too well in TSC. Want your business out there and become hugely popular to the community? Then work for it!

2. Flames get you nowhere
A common thing you see in a gamer forum is that you get to notice that there are a lot of heated discussions. These often lead to serious cursing and even at times, lead within the game that ultimately destroys others' experience. A major penalty usually for these kinds of arguments is a forum ban for all of those who are involved. In TSC, it's a wee bit different, as we always investigate things first before making judgments. Ultimately though it plays a lot of risk in your profile, people might think that your get irritated easily and hard to do business with. While heated arguments are fine at times, it is best to always avoid letting it reach burning point. Everything can be settled with proper understanding, even in business, so never put yourself in that scenario.

3. A joke is funny, trolling is not
You will get to see at times that some might attempt to break a proper discussion and just posts for the sake of making fun. It's widely popular in games (where do you even think the action "trolling" came from? Games of course), and is done on a daily basis, whether inside a game, or in a forum. While a single troll can be sometimes funny, repeating the act on several threads is not usually the case. It does work well to be popular in a laid back community like a gaming community, but it does not work well in a business forum like TSC. I personally am used to seeing trolls, but as a business forum, you should always know your limits on whether your joke is just to break the ice or just trolling. Not everyone accepts a joke like some of us do, so be mindful of the people you are responding to.


4. (And the most important) Treat this like a "serious game"
Ever wondered why there are a lot of video games out there? And why a lot of people are hooked up? It's because a game challenges them. In a progression game, you work your character to levels, in which you gain experience to "level up". Make a mistake and your character dies and you try again, by then you see where you made the flaw and avoid it, and at times share the trick to your friends. You grind all that until you finish the game or you reach the point where you are at the highest level, the top of the leaderboards, or the richest player in the game. It all applies well in business. You read, get some tips from others, try to apply it in your end, and if it works, you gain something. If not, try to apply another method. Not everything that works for one works for you, that's why a forum is made, to share information. It's ok to say "this method did not work for me", as it's part of reality. You just have to justify it and also give insight on how you did it. Sure, not everything can be shared, it's similar to games - do you even want to share where or how did you get that epic weapon for your character? But at some point, you give hints, and these hints, while may be worthless for you, is like a treasure for some, especially the "newbies" in that area.

Through years of experience on both fields, I think these points are the most important to consider in all of them, most are not just aware that the same thing almost applies to everything. Hope that helped the community at least from a gamer's point of view .
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jed and Helen
Since this is the intro section for the forum - I thought this would be the right place to introduce anyone new to how to operate within a forum in general to get the best business return from your interactions here! (and any other forum).

Below is a blog piece I wrote on getting the most out of forums and may or not be useful! But definitely worth posting here also!

This forum is a wonderful community of people working in wholesale, trade, online selling etc etc and the wealth of advice is immense, below is a alightly tongue in cheek guide to how to get the most of your time here :)

---

I was new to forum sites when I got involved www.thewholesaleforums.co.uk (TSC) around 3 years ago – my experience before that had been mostly when pieces of technology broke down and I wanted to know ‘How do I restart an iPhone?’ or ‘My child got confused - how do you get toast out a Samsung VCR?’ and there were useful groups of people on the internet with answers to my VERY URGENT questions. I never really gave much thought to who the people were and what motivated them.

Now I run a forum site and often see sole traders or companies coming in and trying to navigate forums and make them work for them, then getting frustrated when they don’t get any traction. So, thought it would be useful to put a high level guide together for the golden rules.

  1. DON’T SPAM – be relevant or step away from your keyboard. This is the biggie. Even if you’ve only seen LinkedIn groups this should make sense. If a group are spending time and energy having an interesting discussion on ‘What do you think of eBay seller restrictions?’ – Dusty from Texas writing ‘500 PCS Apple iPad $5 each SHIPPING’ will not get a response, and will probably get reported and removed. It’s like interrupting someone watching a RomCom film mid-sentence with a Cillit Bang advert. No one will be interested and they’ll probably hate you a little bit.
  1. Involvement – it’s a community not your personal promotion platform. Think about forum members for a second, they are an engaged community of people who genuinely care about the subject matter of the forum – whether it’s wholesale or Apple products, or holidays. On TSC it never ceases to amaze me how much advice and help members are willing to provide each other on their area of expertise. You can’t simply arrive and start promoting your business without offering something to the community – take the time to understand the members, converse with them and help them out. Then people will want to do business with you.
  1. Engagement – converse don’t shout. Imagine you’re having a nice conversation in the pub about what you think about how Mourinho manages Chelsea, and someone walks in and shouts ‘I SELL FOOTBALLS’, you ignore them because they’re social inept, the conversation moves on and they shout ‘HELLO, WANT TO SELL TO YOU’. The result – YOU ALL MOVE AWAY. You don’t walk into a party of strangers and shout disembodied sentences at them… so don’t do it on a forum site – social nuances get more complex without being face to face not easier. Respect that.
  1. Reputation – be an angel not a troll. Respect and reciprocate – help people and they won’t forget and they will in listen to what you’re about. Forum sites are not twitter – and you are not a troll, your goal should be to create professional reputation, not create attention for yourself. If you come in and are rude and unconstructive to people, you might have entertained yourself whilst you would otherwise have been watching Eastenders – but you will not create business. Be constructive, have discussions, push your opinion – but with respect, and the goal in mind to help the community.
In the end – the key is to be interested and interesting and, as in life, that will get you respect, and ultimately business. There are no short cuts – but, they are excellent places with an incredible ability to be a 24/7 networking event in a virtual hub. You will gain expertise, help others and build reputation directly in your industry with relevant people – never underestimate that.

Sounds like pretty solid advice to me!