Mailing Lists and Forums as a Promotional Tool
One of the great things about the Internet and World
Wide Web, is that they have brought hundreds of thousands of people with mutual interests
together online. Through the use of newsgroups, mailing lists and forums, people Online
can meet in cyberspace to exchange information, discuss topics and pass along
knowledge. Via these three methods of Internet marketing, you can gain both
visibility and credibility, while directly reaching large numbers of people from around
the globe -- people who are most likely to be interested in the services or products you
supply. You also benefit by gain credibility and visibility, and the cost is nothing
but the amount of time you wish to contribute as a participant! However, it
is important that you follow a number of unwritten guidelines, such as overtly commercial
advertising or promotion of you and your business.
If a discussion is going on about "advertising on the Internet" and
your site contains solid advertising advice and information, you will probably attract
traffic to your site by posting a message with some of the Internet Advertising trends
Newsgroups grew out of people's need to share information on mutually
interesting subjects. There are tens of thousands of online newsgroups, the largest
collection of groups being on Usenet, which lists the groups by hierarchies. The prefix of
the group indicates its hierarchy. For example: alt (alternative topics) biz
(business) comp (computers) misc
(miscellaneous) news (news and discussion about Usenet) rec
(recreation) talk (controversial topics).
The suffix contains the group's name. For example, rec.camping focuses on
camping. There are two unofficial classes of groups, mainstream and alternative.
The alternative group(s) are generally more leading edge.
You can access Usenet through Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
It's better to use software specially designed to access newsgroups. For Windows,
download Free Agent, which allows on and offline reading, at http://www.forteinc.com/agent/index.htm.
You can also check out http://www.reference.com
or the popular http://www.dejanews.com.
Usenet is much more text-based than the web, with no pictures, although
you can download pictures from some newsgroups for viewing offline. Usenet
holds an incredible variety of information from serious, valuable commentary to zany,
off-the-wall information. Just think of any subject... you'll probably find it there
online. And a good number of newsgroups have dedicated participants who are
readily prepared to exchange useful information with one another.
If you select a group and can read its messages you can also post your messages
to that group. Some newsgroups are moderated. That means your message will
have to be approved by the group's moderator. Moderated newsgroups are far easier to
deal with because there is less extraneous and superfluous discussion. Most
Usenet groups are self-policing and the members have developed ways to deal with unwanted
behavior. If you dare post something that breaks "the rules", you
can rightly expect to be flamed (sent negative and hostile messages) or have your server
overloaded with e-mails by a disgruntled member(s) of that newsgroup.
There's only so much time that a person can devote to forums, newsgroups and
mailing lists. So the best thing to do is, discover 2 or 3 that most closely match
your market. Establish your presence in one group at a time and participate as
frequently as possible.
People with similar interests subscribe to mailing lists. When a member
sends or answers an e-mail to the list, all members receive the message. Members also can
communicate directly with other members. To find mailing lists, use http://www.liszt.com where you'll find a directory of
literally tens of thousands of public lists categorized by interest.
Mailing lists have two broad categories, private or public, moderated or
un-moderated. Obtaining a private list membership will depend on your meeting some
requirement. This can vary from professional qualifications to just
giving your e-mail address. Moderated lists have a person who acts as a message
gatekeeper. He/she will read all submitted messages and post only those meeting
acceptability requirements. Thankfully, the moderator may edit rambling messages or
produce a digest of messages. Without a moderator all messages are posted to
all subscribers, who can end up with dozens of daily messages from the list. Some of
these can be pretty dumb and off-the-wall.
Forums are discussion groups located on commercial online services like America
Online, or can be part of a web site. To access a forum, you'll have to be a
subscriber to the online service that hosts it. You usually can read the forum's
messages, but you usually are required to formally join the forum to access its libraries,
conference rooms or classified advertising area. Usually all that is required
is, the registration of your name.
Let's say a particular forum's topic is Broadcasting: the forum may have
guest participants who are expert in on-air programming, on-air talent, sales management,
promotions or engineering. If you have expertise in the forum's area, you can
promote your site related to broadcasting or your expertise to a huge number of people by
leading or participating in a conference. Your web site and qualifications will
always be identified and a transcript will be archived in the library for others to view.
Learn the unwritten rules of "netiquette". Prior posting to a
newsgroup or mailing list it is advisable to stay in the background for a while, observing
but not participating. An inappropriate post you make to group with a large
membership can take on a life of its own and continue on for days or even weeks.
And God forbid, you post a blatant sales pitch for your product, service or site on a list
that forbids commercial messages. No doubt the message will simply be
ignored. But as stated earlier, you may become victim to flaming or unwanted
quantities of hostile and negative e-mail. Most groups prefer that you post
useful information with a signature file that describes your business.
Other rules to follow:
It is important to spell check your posts for typographical errors, incorrect grammar or
misspellings that can quickly create the impression that your business may be less than
professional. That can cost you potential customers. This is good advice to
follow with regard to your web site too. It can be a big task, particularly with
multi-page web sites, but again, it is an important function.
Don't use html, colored text or graphical signatures in your posts. The
list server distributing your posts may not support these functions and your post can end
up being converted to ASCII (pronounced as-key), which is a very dull text format to read
and therefore likely to be skipped. Everyone on the list may not be using the latest
browser or e-mail software, and may not be able to see or open html features.
When you put your e-mail address in your message, be sure to precede it with the
word "mailto." For example, writing mailto:info@BMCommunications.com
will make it a clickable link for anyone who wants to respond to you. And when you give
your web site address, always precede it by "http://", as in http://www.BMCommunications.com
so that someone can click on the URL (or domain name) to go directly to your web site.
Note: Some mail software programs and web site editors now
automatically create the links without the the mailto and http
prefixes. You just type in the e-mail address or domain
Make all posting titles short, but descriptive. The more intriguing the
title, the more likely it is to be read by others. And when you respond to an
individual's message, refer to its subject in your opening and respond to the sender ONLY
and not the group.
that remarkable thing that occurs if you don't market and promote your products or
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