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Be a Firestarter: How To Use Forums to Jump-Start Your Engagement
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candleThey’re out there… in the world wide woods. searching, seeking, desperate for help and guidance. All they want is a little light in the darkness, answers to an ever-growing list of questions and a little mentoring throughout the vast online-unknown.

Who am I describing? The overwhelming majority of beginner forum-members.
Who is the light in the darkness? The Firestarters of these forums.
Who is a Firestarter? The moderators, advice-givers, wisdom-revealers and light-bearers; The Knights of the Square Table!

We pay tribute to these valiant & honorable warriors, who expect nothing in return for their leadership, bestowing a wealth of knowledge upon the masses who sorely need guidance.

Firestarters are good shepherds, amongst a battlefield sometimes littered with shallow tips that often end in endorsement-laden solutions.

Advice-seekers sift through IM forums, sometimes frantically digging for solutions to a major issue that is causing them stress and unrest. They have probably already spent some money on guides & tools that got them nowhere, they need real advice, they need someone to stay with them for a while. They need you.

Get Ready To Stoke A Fire – Become A Master of Forum Engagement

Time to start sparking some forum conversations that burn bright! It isn’t easy to ram down the gates of a stranger’s conditioned mental-stronghold and offer them digestible, candid advice they will accept and embrace.

So, carving out a common ground is the first step in learning how to use forums. They are ready to cross the bridge, just get to know them and provide the necessary nudge & lifeline, defined in these FOUR action steps:

  1. Build a concrete relation point. The bridge over the troubled waters
  2. Give a free, specific ‘how-to’ to their first, emotional ‘I want’
  3. Explain why you do what you do, not what you do and sell
  4. Deliver an S.O.S. – A simple, obtainable, singular message of how you can offer help

Step #1: The Bridge Over Troubled Waters: A Concrete Relation Point

Maybe the person likes sports? Maybe he/she is from a place you’ve been to? Perhaps, they enjoy the same type of music. This is the time to get personal, share something about yourself, relate with a story and find common threads.

Attributes that people share in a common passion are the bricks of the bridge. Applying those passions together via brainstorming, collaboration, and consistent communication is the hardening mortar of a concrete foundation.

Spend a bit of quality time, reminiscing on war stories around the campfire via a few private messages or forum thread replies. Vent, rant and get over it, then start talking shop. Share the following with each person after firing up the initial conversation thread:

  • An Agreement – validate their issue, problem or concern using your experience
  • A Tear – don’t worry, be happy, we found each other and I know how to help you
  • A Laugh – “A Penguin, A Panda and Larry Page walk into a bar….”, laughter trumps despair
  • A Hug – Reassurance that they are not ALONE and have your full positive support. This is the blue base of the flame on the Firestarter’s torch
  • An Answer – Now, as a friend, segue to the point, drill down to that #1 issue & move to step #2 naturally

Step #2: Give A ‘How-To’ To Their First Emotional ‘I Want’

Now it is time to be the answer, Not the endorsement. This is when you stay focused on that top problem the person is describing in a thread at any given moment and dive into delivering the answer.

Maybe they can’t set up permalinks in WordPress, or they can’t set up their Gmail account to run their business email address.

Whatever the case may be, you are on point. The first one to provide them the direct, finite answer in a format they like. Maybe it’s a link to the answer on one of your channels, a one-minute screen cast video, a one-page outlined PDF or a video call via Skype.

Deliver your first reply quickly, while they are most emotionally vulnerable and watch them rally and bask in your light, Firestarter. They will be so shocked and appreciative by the extra leap you took to help them, beyond simply replying to their thread. You must act with great haste because inspiration is perishable and needs to be renewed.

Step #3: Answer Why It Is You Do What You Do

Naturally, as a person flocks away from the forum towards your shadow, they are going to want to start validating your expertise. How big is your shadow? Are you everywhere all the time?

They are seeking out why it is you do what you do. They will be visiting your website, following your tweets, subscribing to your channel and liking your FB page.

The message they receive on every channel you run must be consistent, clear and concise. “Our mission is to help you…” covers the what, but be sure that your why resonates with them in every breath they take and every move they make under your wing via your writing, teaching and outreaches.

As Simon Sinek said so well, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it“. When somebody is clear on your Why and it never changes, they will let you into their stronghold completely, with a learning cap on and a pencil sharpened.

Now, as they are prepared to take some notes, you start to formulate an offer of help that won’t cost them anything.

Step #4: Deliver An S.O.S. – A Simple Obtainable Singular Message In A Bottle

“You are not alone on an Entrepreneur island.” – Believe me, when they see the bottles washing ashore containing your notes, they are more hungry then they have ever been at that moment. Simply starving for an easy step by step plan, they can digest, from somebody with more experience than them.

When you show them how to make fire, their eyes will grow bright with a sensation of empowerment, ready to achieve.

You can then build the boat that will leave the island together, teaching them how to fish along the way. They know from that moment, they will never be alone, because a like-minded entrepreneur responded to them positively every time, with action-oriented, simple & achievable advice.

This can be done via a quick call, a personal email note, or a direct message in the forum – “hey there, have you had a chance to try out the steps in that video I made for you? -Matt”

In your S.O.S. notes, ask only one question and send as a friend. For now, you represent their follow-through and conviction; don’t expect them to come to you.

Chivalrous Self-Promotion knights-of-square-table-forum-marketing

First, let me throw a quick definition of Chivalry out there for everyone who may not be as medieval as I am:

Chivalry: originally conceived of as an aristocratic warrior code — the term derives from the French term for horseman — involving honor, gallantry, individual training and service to others.

Along the path, you will outfit them with the weapons they need, train them for battle, show them how the experts use words as swords and eventually knight them.

Always teach them in a way they can comprehend. Always deliver answers in the format they want them in, not the way you expect them to accept it.

Moving at their pace, start to chivalrously self-promote in these spots:

  1. Sell in your on-going answers – Naturally, your flock will constantly come back to you for advice as new challenges arise. In these correspondences, you’ll start to see that most topics will typically drill down to a patterned solution you have already crafted or need to hit the drawing board on. It’s only natural for people to purchase from an expert they now know, believe in and trust. Also, you may have noticed a golden nugget here; you will start building products based directly on each advice-seeker’s feedback. This ultimately establishes universal, dynamic & finely-tuned structure for your products.
  2. Sell in your signature – When you are leading more and more out of the darkness, the mark of your victories builds a legend. You can harness this legacy by keeping your signature line potent to the offerings that are helping the most forum users. Be sure the links in your signature send them to a page to learn and opt-in on your ‘why’, do not send them to squeeze pages or sales funnels. It’s abrasive and the sign of a snake-oil salesman. When they opt-in, they have joined your tribe, and will soon find comfort in the warmth of your embrace. We all know the difference of selling to a cold lead versus a warm lead, right? Your forum signature is the ever-growing footnote of your legacy.
  3. Sell in your profile – This is a perfect place to ‘sell yourself’. Make sure your profile picture is clear and reflects your passion. Your bio and all other personal details should be your colors. Fly your banners with pride; be quirky, nerdy, funny, throw in a couple “kick asses” to make it fun. Your profile is your virtual handshake in the relationship-building process, and a portal to your social channels and opt-in funnels. Their first peek of who you are.
  4. Sell in your teachings – Webinars, podcasts, Facebook groups, as you wean the person off the forum into your channels, they will start attending all of your classes, especially the ones you offer for free. This is a perfect venue to finish your talk with Q&A first, then product endorsements last. Always do Q&A before selling anything. Why? Because certain questions may be answered in the form of your valuable solutions they won’t mind buying, it’s natural. Sell by being the answer, and you never come across as a salesman.

The ‘Knights Of The Square Table’ Approach To Forum Firestarting

Here it is, your homework assignment. I implore you to complete the following task list, even if you’ve never used a forum before, and see if by the end of the first week, you don’t have a new qualified lead or customer moving towards your fires. Does it take more time at first while you are slating replies? Sure, but will you notice need-patterns and build on your snippets quickly? Of course you will.

Scale is the magic behind every strategy carried out, but first you have to perfect your wand. Your threads and replies archive forever, developing authority by simply helping a person and those beyond who need the same advice.

Follow this step by step approach to get an advice-seeker following you

  • Choose 3 forum sites you are most knowledgeable in and will focus on
  • Choose 3 forum threads within that you will focus on more finitely
  • Make 3 brilliant, how-to based replies to those your expertise can help, be sure to address them by name. People who share your expertise or like your advice will relate & reply.
  • Start 3 educational forum threads in your expertise under proper categories  (Remember they archive and remain available for good. A person just found us this past weekend on a Warrior Forum thread that was archived on page 20! )
  • Find 3 like-minded moderators in those forums to build relationships with. These could be your future partners down the road, once you prove your valor and worth. (You never know when a joint venture opportunity is right around the corner. Look for our “Zero To Hero Overnight” post on joint venture relationships soon)
  • Lead 3 people out of the darkness with your passionate fire and light

How long does it take to complete these steps and create a rock-solid relationship with a virtual stranger? Days? Weeks? Months? Not really, it takes about 2-5 hours and 4-5 conversations.

You can change lives in a few motivational, momentous moments; what takes a lifetime is the journey that begins right after the paradigm shift. The advice-seeker will set the pace. The answer to why they are emotional & vulnerable at that moment, will set the table.

If you only take one piece of advice, let it be this: Replying promptly and impulsively is the chicken soup for the advice-seeker’s soul. You will have their attention and their curiosity if you stick to that approach.

When you see an advice-seeker’s thread and nothing but tumbleweeds are blowing through their reply stream, be the first sheriff to step into this no-horse town and lay down the law for them!

So, go out there and become a Forum Firestarter. This is the best way to use forums I’ve ever tried – and I’ve tried many. I bet you’ll get a follower or two within only a couple weeks of helping people out of the woods and in to their web.

“You can’t start a fire without a spark” – The Boss

Do you have what it takes to become a Square Knight?

Are you already knighted in the ways of the virtual Samaritan? Tell us your good tidings.

+Matt Ludwig has over 15 years of experience on topics covering website design, business development, SEO, automation tools, content promotion strategy and many other aspects of Internet marketing. He currently writes for and runs Manifest Income with his two partners Ryan Eisenhower and Ron Burdine. We are helping people make a practical plan for their online business, websites that will run themselves, as well as a map for their Internet Marketing strategy and the tools they will need. This path leads to automation and passive income efficiently. We know that time is precious, what you spend it on to create income, is priceless.

70 Comments

  1. Ron Burdine says:

    Some great tips here for getting engaged with your audience off-page. This is really good advice for people getting started that have some experience and expertise to offer, especially if they are trying to get established.

    Seeking out the places where people are looking for help sounds like a no-brainer but I think forums especially are overlooked all too often. By being chivalrous and authentic in your help you are not only helping that person, but you also leave evidence of your good deeds. These threads become the paths that leads them to your website ultimately.

    There’s an old adage about making money that goes something like this: “The fastest way to make money is to make money for other people” I think that fits here. What I really like about this is that it is done without an expectation of reciprocity directly from the the person you are helping…it’s simply evidence that you are a good and helpful person. It’s literally creating good will in action!

    Simply by being a good person and helping your fellow man or entrepreneur, you strengthen the brotherhood and thus expand your reputation as an authentic authority that is clearly not in it just for the quick bucks. You are also setting a good example for others to follow!

    Good stuff. Thanks Matt!

    Ron

    • Iain says:

      You hit the nail on the head there Ron.

      They are fantastic tips to get you started on the forums. I think many people shy away from forums because the type of culture they have. I know I have been in many gaming forums and people can be ruthless.

      Completely agree with you that people often overlook forums as a place for providing advice, and connecting with people.

      I honestly don’t create many threads. I think it is because I not well known in IM forums and new threads will get buried by someone who is unknown at times. That’s not to say it wouldn’t work.

      Being a good honest person can go a long way you’re right Ron. I mean there are so many rude people out there, but by being the nice guy you can stand out.

      Cheers. Great one Matt and awesome comment Ron

      • Great points Iain. It’s funny, when I originally wrote this post, it had much more of a negative connotation to it, which is justified, as you have elaborated on here, judgement and condescending advice is rampant in some niches. My start in forums, was gaming and AOL, of course. Wow those were some brutal streets, lol.

        That is where, a person basing their replies in positive support and a quick “hey this is how you do that” visual, goes a really long way.

        Forum browsers want to escape any possible judgement on their questions and just get objective answers. I know that feeling of intimidation when going to post a new thread or reply even.

        My first ever thread on warrior forum was last year, when Penguin made my life a living hell in the SEO provider niche, I was soooo desperate for just any sort of reply after spilling my guts on plans to recover.

        Ryan was the guy who responded, we got on a 4-hr skype call that night, he talked me off an SEO cliff, met my partner Ron the next day and we started discussing going a different direction, one that has led us here.

        http://www.warriorforum.com/adsense-ppc-seo-discussion-forum/559698-reply-notice-unnatural-links-detected.html#post5909819

        Ok, story time is over for now, thanks for the great insight Iain!

      • Ron Burdine says:

        Thanks Iain…keep on keeping on brother! The world needs more good people out there helping one another.

        I get the most satisfaction with taking entrepreneurs across that threshold of a new business and seeing their ideas come to life…it’s so great to witness people transforming and becoming empowered following their passion!

        I am always ready to help and tell anyone who wants to listen what I have learned through many online businesses, both for myself and clients we have managed over the years.

        All the best,
        Ron

        • Iain says:

          Howdy Ron,

          I can’t say I have much experience in the entrepreneur area, but I try to help people in any way I can.

          These days it tends to be mostly in relation to website because there are a surprisingly large number of people who just don’t’ know.

          Also, going to have a look at Manifest Income. I’ve seen you guys around, so I might as well check out what Manifest Income is all about as well. :D

      • Iain says:

        Ron,

        Glad to hear that you were talked off the edge. I know sometimes life can throw us a curve ball, but you have to remember just to get back on the horse sorta speak.

        • Just keep growing your experienced eye, to let that curve ball go, and wait for the hanging fastball over the plate to hammer out of the park! Homeruns and strikeouts go together hand in hand with being an Entrepreneur. Your growing experienced eye is what makes you a better hitter. You rock Iain!

  2. Thanks for the excellent reinforcement Ron.

    You must be the person’s conviction and follow-through at the start. They are fluttering amongst a thousand things they don’t fully grasp yet, particularly when it comes to the technology and tools they are adapting to online. This is usually the motivation behind them going to a forum in the first place, to learn and receive the latest Intel on “what’s hot and what’s not” strategies, which can cause a bit of frustration at times…

    So crucial at that moment you find the person to keep your advice elementary and practical while keeping their focus based in a concrete plan you help them make.

    Matt

  3. Forum marketing is incredibly useful if done the right way! Whether it’s writing a little bit of philosophy, or promoting a personal story that establishes you as an expert; all it takes is a little bit of timing and patience to capture peoples’ hearts and make them loyal followers till the end.

    If you follow the steps in this post and put a little muscle behind your message, you will achieve results, guaranteed!

    If anyone is having any issues using the approaches listed by Matt, please let us know, or contact the wonderful team at Firepole Marketing who are masters of engagement in their own right, and we’ll be glad to help!

  4. Carlos Coto says:

    Hey Matt,

    Great Post! Psychologically speaking, you would be making an Imprint! Just like it happens in animals….Yes, a lot of things leave an Imprint in humans also… lol. You need to be the first one to attend to the S.O.S. message of the person in need… If you are the first, and if your help is right on target, you would be that person´s hero. If you are not the first, your message HAS to be the best one… If that happens you will be competing for Ranking, of the best answer. But definitely you would be making a point of expertise.

    Great Post!

    • Hey Carlos,

      You are so right about competing for ranking of the best answer. There is no stronger impression than that of the Hero! The first to lend a hand, pick somebody up, show them light at the end of the tunnel and most importantly, stick around without seeking compensation right away.

      Thanks for the feedback – Matt

  5. This post is great Matt.

    I need a few days to fully digest. But you’ve really nailed down some great points.

    I think timing can play a factor in effective forum marketing. I agree, it can send a tidal wave of traffic if you approach it right.

    Excellent post.

    • Thanks Andrew! Appreciate you stopping by to give it a read.

      Yes a solid tidal wave.

      And as we all know is so important, the water in that wave is warm traffic that converts.

      More and more nowadays, our social channels are becoming the front porch of our relationship building. A lot of conversion is happening without anyone even coming in your .com house.

      These front-porch relationships are proving more and more crucial. Forums are large neighborhoods chocked full of people that need your help.

      Invite them on to your porch for some lemonade Q&A. – Matt

  6. Excellent points Carlos, and you’re dead on, if you are not the first response, then you want to strive to be the best response.

    All it takes is a little passion in your answer… forget about anything you’re trying to promote and build a legitimate relationship.

    Once you master the power, you’ll be both the first and the best response! :0

  7. RT @DiscoverAuction: Game of Forums – How To Be A… | Every Single Auction says:

    [...] by Twitter RT @DiscoverAuction: Game of Forums – How To Be A Conversation “Firestarter” firepolemarketing.com/2013/05/03/for… via @DannyIny This entry was posted in Auction Tweets by Twitter. Bookmark the [...]

  8. Matt! I love your Firestarter, lost sheep analogy (vaguely biblical… lol), and I agree with the process you listed.

    I’ve also been a “Firestarter” on many forums in my life, doing every step except making my why front-and-center, Simon-Sinek style (which I’ve only adopted recently, and am a little annoyed that it wasn’t taught to me earlier :P)

    In fact, I’ve attracted quite a bit of attention simply from my comment-contributions here on Firepole :)

    I haven’t felt “at home” on many forums lately, and mostly stopped looking, but this has rekindled my interest.

    I’d like to add a little secret sauce:
    Your Firestarter steps are fantastic, and I can see them working for many. To increase results I`d highly recommend some self work on personal beliefs, confidence levels, expectations, optimism, attitude etc. – I know for me many things that “should work” did not because I was weak in those areas.

    Keep ryzin’!

    • Carlos Coto says:

      Hi Jason, Great Advice! I feel that you took my words out of my mouth. Self work is essential to everything, if you want to get far and RYZE! :) People sometimes think that they just have to get a better “know how” or get better systems and tools, but they forget to upgrade the core which is the self. I think it must be the start… Start with the self, and irradiate light to others…and like you say keep ryzin…

      • Like minds again, Carlos, and I love how you’re feelin’ the ryze :) Mwhaha.

        I’ve spent so much of my life learning “know how” systems and tools and sometimes it was super frustrating cuz they should work, but didnt :)

        Self-work FTW.

        Together we ryze ;)

        • Feelin’ the Ryze…. love it.

          “but they forget to upgrade the core which is the self” – Carlos, once I made this quote of yours the practical focus of every morning going into every day; just incredible how much I’ve grown as a person & entrepreneur. I get so much more done each day, fulfilled and satisfied…. the Self is all the power and energy one needs, “irradiate light to others” – Thank you for your beautiful insight.

  9. Hey J-Ryze! Thanks for the mad props on the analogy. I’m realizing that writing is bringing it all out of me; and for me, that is a lot of dramatic action/adventure movies, sports principles and war history literature…Innocence, I Imagine.

    Great to hear from another Firestarter! Forum marketing has truly been amazing for the growth of our small business.

    The relationships we are gaining from it, even if they don’t become direct customers, are truly everlasting. Heck, it’s how Ron and I met Ryan a little over a year ago and decided to start a partnership that became Manifest Income.

    Shedding knowledge’s light on the darkness of the unknown is truly a righteous path. I’m looking forward to keeping this conversation lit bright and really drill down to the specific points to take action.

    I can’t stress “sell by being the answer” enough.

    Give me another order of that secret sauce too J-Ryze, sounds delicious. Self-work is the beauty of the journey, you just keep learning more, keep growing and Keep ryzin’!

    Keep Moving Keep Making is the banner we fly proud at MI. Don’t stop, always stay on the hunt for more. Our hunger for greatness keeps the hunt going for good.

    Hey beginning Firestarters out there – Get your WARCRY written down if you don’t already and shout it out loud when you start drilling home your business in every spare moment you have each day.

    Your Warcry is Your Why.

    Matt

    • Woo! Awesome, Matt!

      I’m super glad writing, forums, relationships and MI are all workin’ for ya. Definitely a good sign :)

      Illuminating darkness by being the answer is a huge part of what I do at Ryze – nice to meet like minds :)

      I love that about Firepole, Danny has always felt very open to “unique” marketing related stuffz.

      I’m definitely about more, and I love your warcry.

      I have many, as the cry keeps evolving, but it’s pretty hard to mess it up, as long as it’s some variation of:

      “Love Ryzes”, “Together We Ryze”, or “Keep ryzin’” :)

      • That’s right J, like-minds networking and collaborating more often, is going to make this world a much more opportune place, where creation and invention of jobs is the norm, not searching for and losing them.

        Your Cry and Your Why will always keep evolving – from that concrete, self-working foundation. That is always our launchpad to the stars.

        Yea, Danny is an ambassador of open-source thinking, collaboration, innovation, advice, and guidance. He certainly is The Firestarter that I admire. Exampled Action, I can’t harp on enough. It’s the ole walk the walk, before talk the talk adage.

        He, Megan and the rest of the FPM team have given us an incredible opportunity to add a little value to this progressive community of all-stars.

        Thanks for the great convo J-Ryze

  10. Larry James says:

    I think Forum Marketing is very effective, especially in the website development niche. I often frequent Facebook Communities that are for bloggers, webmasters and web designers. You can build your Facebook Fans very quickly by helping others in the community.

    • Facebook is another powerful venue where you can practice these principles. It’s best to join legitimate FB groups that have good moderation (no spam) and active members that are hungry for answers.

      These aren’t very hard to find with a little bit of digging…

      Remember, when you join these groups, you’re not trying to get instant conversions, you’re trying to build a reputation as the go-to guy or gal for answers.

      As you build your reputation, people will become naturally curious about you, they may click on your profile, come check out your site and even ask for additional help.

      At that point, if you offer services or products, it’s just a matter of finding what works best for their needs.

      I like that you added Facebook into the mix Larry, it’s just as vital to have an active reputation on there as any forum.

      Twitter is also another great resource for finding people hungry for answers (which we can go into great detail on), but we’ll save that for another post ;0!

    • Absolutely effective in the web development niche Larry, great point.

      That’s where I got my start in designing & developing websites, getting one question answered at a time in forums, during that challenging process of self-education that’s forever on-going for all of us….

      We are slowly building a forum at MI based in how-to tutorials for those who aren’t ‘coders’, but want to be a DIY’er webmaster for site improvements. With WordPress, this skill is easily accomplished and mastered with the proper Jedi training.

      Forums are the ideal facility for such training and for many non-technical topics too, of course…

      Thanks for your insight Larry – Matt

  11. Love your “chivalrous self-promotion” definitely, Matt – that’s something most bloggers have trouble with. They tend to go for “too much” or “too little”.

    Pleasure to see you at FPM!

    • Matt @ Manifest Income says:

      Hey Ana! Thanks for the chivalrous shout out! That was at the core of my message when I got pencil to pad on writing this piece.

      I’m fascinated by the ‘Good Samaritan’ approach to engagement. A hand lent with no reciprocation expected.

      I’m observing more and more, how leaders online are growing their practice so quickly with simple transparency and genuine guidance.

      Forums are one of many avenues available to us, (many more that I have learned recently following your advice), to be a positive soul with a helping hand extended to the masses who are challenging themselves to learn the skill-set necessary to be an online entrepreneur.

      Great to be here on FPM!

    • Ana knows everyone!!! lol :)

  12. Hey Ana! Thanks for the chivalrous shout out! That was at the core of my message when I got pencil to pad on writing this piece.

    I’m fascinated by the ‘Good Samaritan’ approach to engagement. A hand lent with no reciprocation expected.

    I’m observing more and more, how leaders online are growing their practice so quickly with simple transparency and genuine guidance.

    Forums are one of many avenues available to us, (many more that I have learned recently following your advice), to be a positive soul with a helping hand extended to the masses who are challenging themselves to learn the skill-set necessary to be an online entrepreneur.

    Great to be here on FPM!

  13. Ileane says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’m not spending as much time as I used to on forums these days. I find myself hanging out more in Google+ communities. Most of what you have outlined here would translate pretty well over there and hopefully you’d get added SEO benefits.
    Your thoughts?
    Speaking of Warrior Forum – I rarely hear any of the women mentors that I follow endorsing it. Is it just me? I’d love to hear about some of the female thought leaders who have made an impact there.

    Thanks for the post Matt.

    • HI Ileane,

      Excellent question in regards to Google+ communities and SEO benefits. SEO is actually my specialization, and I have been researching a lot in 2 specifics quantitative areas recently:
      1. Authorship Engagement & 2. Youtube On-Page

      To elaborate a little bit, I’m seeing a phenomenon I call ‘the trinity flood gates’ taking a powerful effect in Google organic currently. Fast, real-time ranking climbs in broad, competitive key terms, almost as fast as G News.

      The 3 aspects making up the trinity are 1. your .com writing/media 2. your social proofed profile conduit 3. your Youtube channel on-page

      So, to answer your specific Q, YES, answering questions in G+ group circles, FB Groups and LinkedIn niches is combining 1. and 2. of the approach mutually.

      This approach is proving to be a direct source of converting traffic along with gaining you an incredible amount of authorship authority. (Penguin updates enforce this in the SERP algorithm, if you dont have, 1. traffic-generating links being built and 2. authority sourced to your content and who benefits from it, you’re mathematically stuck in the organic mud). This was perceived as a penalty, it was really just a light switch getting flipped.

      PR is passing around youtube channels like a raging river. Opening the flood gates via your G+ profile into your .com blog via Authorsure and Embedding is an SEO power punch for each piece you write and promote.

      When you make ‘on-page optimized’ videos to support your pieces and promote those as well via an attached youtube channel with keyterm-driven playlists, you have an SEO knock-out punch.

      When I say on-page, I mean Youtube is where you tell Google what your key terms are. Youtube is still a Wild West of artificial SEO. You can still tell Google directly how to rank your videos, and there is a proven, growing correlation of your youtube and organic broad rankings.

      I’ll be writing more on this and developing a couple case studies. I’ll ping you on G+ when that is prepared. Sorry, ‘SEO’ always makes me digress, it’s still my labour of love and a little bit of $$ ;).

      SEO is definitely a Stargate to the Old School. Strategies that worked well, before becoming artificial spam tactics in the early millenium (like forum marketing, hehe), are working again now.

      The difference is 2 things:
      1. Google can effectively police your activities across all .coms using your +Authorship. So it can trust you, and bestow seo value to your .com

      2. The wide formats of media we have at our disposal. G wants to see us capitalize on all formats and engage each ‘channel’ socially. (Because we all have oodles of time to be doing that right?)

      Matt

      • Ileane says:

        Fantastic response.
        Although I tend to shy away from conversations about SEO, you are speaking my language here so I’ll open up.

        I totally agree about the role that YouTube is playing in all of this and I keep close track of these signal in Google Analytics. This is why I recently uploaded several YouTube videos on the topic of conversion tracking and list building and YouTube. Some of these are embedded in blog posts and others will be included in a more comprehensive guide that I have in the works. I’m also using SlideShare to build links and authority for the same key words. Good to know that I’m on the right track.

        Matt, you didn’t address the second question I mentioned in my comment. Hopefully you’re going to share some great insights for that one too.

        Thanks!!

        • Hey Ileane,

          I just wanted to follow up and make sure you came back and checked out Lisa’s comment below. She’s a leader in forums and runs her own forum (http://www.websitebabble.com). Maybe you can register there and get involved to see how effectively she runs and moderates hers.

          I’ll be much more active in there helping her forum members a lot, perhaps I’ll see you around there!

          Matt

          • ileane says:

            Matt,

            Lisa’s forum is the ONLY one I’ve ever belonged to and I’m a huge advocate for all of stuff.

            In fact I’m thinking that the Warrior Forum is the complete polar opposite of Website Babble and which is why I stay away from WSO’s. I’m waiting for someone to come along and convince me otherwise but that hasn’t happened yet :)

            • ileane says:

              Typo – I meant to say-
              I’m an advocate for all of Lisa’s stuff.

            • Matt @ Manifest Income says:

              We’ll the three of us over here at MI are up for that challenge to convince you ;).

              Our original model for this business was an action-oriented forum. Taking the Entrepreneur through a progressive evolution into a ‘Tech’preneur.

              We want a place as broad and diverse as WarriorForum, but purely focused in the essence of taking action, self-education, accountability partnering and getting things done with positive support leading to self-empowerment and automation.

              Stay Tuned! Our forum is an infant WIP at this point ;) – Matt

    • Hey Ileane,

      Thanks for stopping by!

      I would like to answer your question about “women mentors” on Warrior Forum.

      There are a ton of women that have made a name for themselves using forum marketing as a powerful tool in their arsenal.

      One of the names that stands out is Jennifer Ledbetter otherwise known as “PotPieGirl”!

      She’s extremely helpful on the warrior forum (the practice we follow and promote), and she’s shook the ground with some of her epic posts.

      She has huge support via the Warrior Forum, and uses that site as a good source for referral traffic…

      She offered a screenshot here when she decided to announce the end of her marriage with google: http://www.potpiegirl.com/2012/04/the-real-reason-i-broke-up-with-google/

      Because she practices the be-everywhere approach, she’s now on a first name basis with Matt Cutts, and people really rally around her when she challenges anything!

      She’s an internet superhero to many of her followers, and she had a humble beginning just like all of us have.

      All it takes is putting in the time… and building those relationships.

      Blog commenting is great, but writing a stunning thread is almost like writing a guest post. It can be found for years, and people are more likely to engage in discussion on a forum than a blog.

  14. Troy says:

    Hey Matt,

    Nice post… The “oldies” are still “goodies”… by that I mean the old-school tactics like forum posting, guest posting, etc… are just as important today as ever and focusing on value and giving first like you point out is certainly the key…

    Thanks for the share…

    • Hey Troy! Fitting, that coming right off my rant on SEO to Ileane, I see my #1 SEO mentor directly below that reinforcing these “old-school tactics”.

      Absolutely – so take it back to the old school beat, because there’s plenty of questions to answer and Real people out there to build relationships with… make SEO an afterthought and you’ll see it’s really just a bi-product of a thorough, helpful online marketing strategy.

      Thanks for stoppin’ by Troy!

  15. Keith says:

    These are great ways to engage.
    Some old school ideas are perfect today!

    • That’s right Keith, I was hoping this piece would fire up people to think about good ole fashion ways to help people that build you warm leads and search ranks.

      When Google runs down a forum thread, and it has, say 50 replies, and that 50th reply is you, offering a solution to your social web via a naked link, and no more replies come after it on the thread; Google knows that you were the solution in that case. So it reads the page title of that forum thread, and then makes your G+ profile an authority on the topic, hence at the top of the rankings for that topic.

      Old school is New school!

  16. This is actually something that I keep telling myself I need to get back into a few forums. I love the idea to come with with chivalry very nice. We all could use a little more forum chivalry right!?!

    You really hit on some nice points, and I could always read and here these type of tips. It’s great reminders for me of what I have done before in forums. I really enjoyed reading your action steps and would agree that only a few forums to really focus on can really work and build up a good reputation on.

    I would also agree with Ms Ileane, as there are a lot of forums that are almost like a shark tank. It’s almost not worth the effect of trying to enter because no matter want they tear you apart. Or at least that’s been some of my previous experience.

    Thanks again for sharing and enjoyed reading this one!

    Eric

    P.S. I am very excited to see this from you Matt, and I hope that I was able to contribute some to this one :)

    • Hey Eric – nice to see you man! Thanks for the support, your contribution is very valuable as is your advice. Your GP post helped me formulate our approach to getting published!

      Forum Chivalry! That’s right man, people get so much condescending advice, that when a Samaritan walks up the path and replies with good advice AND positive support. The advice-seeker instantly feels comfortable that they are NOT alone.

      That is so crucial, the sense of community builds a feeling of belonging, what is that the definition of? Culture and Civilization. The essence of your virtual Tribe which you are chief off. Go be a chief!

      The shark tank effect is very valid and true. So when you throw a life raft in the middle of all those circling dorsal fins, you restore faith that IM forums are a place to go to learn and get past hurdles and challenges with grace.

      So get in there and be a Knight of the Square Table!

      Thanks for stopping by Eric – Matt

  17. Lisa Irby says:

    Hi Matt,

    Glad you stopped by my blog to direct me here. Good stuff!

    Posting in forums was one of the first strategies I adopted when I first got started — not just for the backlink building (which was very effective back then… maybe not so much now) but to build authority.

    I would take advantage of the PM feature on the forums and try to help people more directly when I could. This often resulted in sales from products I recommend and once I launched my OWN forum, some of these people even became members there too.

    Today I feel like people are misguided. Everyone is so focused on the backlink aspect of forum marketing, but after the Penguin updates, there isn’t as much value there. However, when it comes to building yourself as the authority and being helpful, there is still a ton of value with forum marketing.

    Not only do these kinds of forum members help build a better forum community, but they are discovering it’s a great way to generate leads for their own site and services. The key is consistency and relevancy.

    Great post!

    • Hey Lisa! Thanks for stopping by and bringing your excellent insight to the conversation.

      Yes, the effectiveness of the links has been diminished directly as Google continues to police real answers from artificial link initiatives. I’m glad this is the case, so forums become more pure Q&A like they are meant to be, without being such a hassle for the forum master and moderators due to spammers.

      Your forum is fantastic for finding clear ways to getting things done and bringing positive support. I look forward to getting much more involved with WebsiteBabble.com, (everyone go check it out if you haven’t already).

      I’m seeing a lot to dictate that Google is mapping our Authority directly to organic results using G+ profiles. It’s exciting that we may start to get very well rewarded in the rankings, by simply focusing on guiding people and leaving a trail of the victories we help them achieve based in “consistency and relevancy”, like you have done so amazingly Lisa!

      See you around – Matt

    • “I feel like people are misguided” – you’re absolutely right Lisa!

      If this industry was a little bit more transparent on what it took to build a successful business with a high traffic volume, then you would see a lot more millionaires.

      However, a lot of it is meant to be a mystery, with multiple methods of getting there, some short-term, some long-term…

      Our manifesto is to help people create a system that works best for them!

      We were tired of seeing so many people fall for the get rich schemes, so we decided to make a stand, and show our audience how they can meet their goals with effective scaling.

      This is a model you’ve practiced for sometime Lisa when I found you back in 2009.

      One of the most effective moves you made was your Youtube Series. You showed you were human, you showed you care by answering everyones questions, and you build admiration and loyalty among your audience.

      A lot of people have been mentioning this doesn’t only apply to forum marketing and they are absolutely correct. It’s a matter of finding the people that are lost, or “misguided” as Lisa says, and offering a practical solution without them feeling like you are selling them something.

  18. Mike Pereira says:

    What’s up Matt!

    Great write up man,the thing is, what you wrote above is really not about Forum marketing in my opinion. Its just “good marketing of oneself” in my book and forum is one of those channels. You can take that same helpful notion beyond forums as someone else mentioned above, and substitute the word forum with FB Groups, G+, Linked In, or even via email marketing, Webinars, events, trainings, and podcasting etc.

    The bottom line is helping people helps you in the long run, be it financially, or spiritually. Just taking on an abundance persona is the way to go. Be true yourself, and good things follow.

    • What’s Happenin’ Mike!

      “abundance persona” – Wow, what a great phrase to sum up the true essence of what I was going for with the message here.

      You are absolutely right – Forums are simply one old-school channel, and there are many new-wave ones, that are sparking fast these days. Also, they are being measured directly by G via our +profile contributions now. It’s SEwhO now, not just SEO

      I’m looking forward to getting our podcast going. You and Troy have a perfect model to follow and write great articles on that strategy.

      Lending a hand, helping as many as you can, over an infinite span, makes a great plan. Thanks for broadening the horizons on my post Mike, see you around.

      Matt

    • Ron Burdine says:

      Great stuff there Mike! Be yourself and when you are you’ll see that you were meant to help people. We are all here to help each other in one way or another. Find out how you can help and keep doing it…it feels good and like you said Mike it does lead to greater gifts on many levels.

      I am not a communist, socialist or other, I am a human being and so are you. There is clearly an emerging trend in this new world of business and it’s about the people! Thanks to technology we are more connected than ever before…this is the real gift of technology.

      All the best.

      Ron

  19. As a brand new forum member writer, I am an advice seeker and hopefully one day, a Firestarter. Although I have never joined a forum, I have written quite a few SEO blogs for numerous clients on different topics. Throughout the evolution of the internet, I have always known innately that content is king. Since 1996, I have seen the internet improve to the state it is today which is a sharply honed research tool. All the rules that have been put in place have really helped to clean up the content ( Lest we forget the days when typing the search term “puppy” …or any search term at all for that matter…would result in donkey love sex toys.)

    Thank you for all these helpful tips on how to join forums and be a solid contributor. I really appreciate everyone’s input and look forward to becoming part of the Forum world.

    • Haha, that’s oh so true Cat! We need to reclaim the sanctity and purity of forums now that Google polices it. Keep these streets clean for folks to find Real people with Real supportive answers. I’m calling for a Neighborhood Watch Initiative!

      Well, you are already a Firestarter, one thread and reply at a time you light more paths! Good luck in your endeavors! – Matt

  20. Jordan Singh says:

    Hello Matt,

    Excellent post! Seems i haven’t digested your post completely, the thing is i’m not a fan of forum firestarter or an active member of any forums. Since i found google + communities and facebook group are far better than forums.

    Anyway, thanks for the share.

    • Hey Jordan,

      You’re absolutely right, those groups are very active and supportive.

      The essence of being the answer and supporting someone as you educate them, is the creed of the Firestarter. Whether it’s a forum, a group, or somebody sitting next to you at the bar. You are lighting the path they will follow.

      Pick up on the signals and lend a hand.

      Thanks for your insight Jordan!

      Matt

  21. Adam Connell says:

    Matt,

    This is an insane post, I truly don’t think I can add to it at all.

    Forum marketing gets a bad rap, every time someone seems to mention it, connotations of dodgy software, spun comments and over optimized signatures come to mind for a lot of people.

    I truly hope that everyone who does any form of forum marketing reads this and see’s the real value of doing things the right way rather than doing things the wrong way and just devaluing the internet and creating more headaches for site owners.

    • Hey Adam,

      Thanks for the reinforcing feedback.

      Yes, it is tainted based solely on the reasons you mentioned. Restoring the purity and positivity is the key.

      “Devaluing the internet” is what we must prevent. We are the moderators and curators of our web, separating the Real from the Fake.

      I’m glad you got a lot of value out of this Adam.

      Matt

    • Thanks for giving us your input Adam!

      From your blog, you know the importance of validating people.

      People want to be acknowledged that they exist, they want a sense of community, and a sense of purpose.

      Although forums can get a bad rap because there’s a lot of worthless content out there, it’s a stepping stone for marketers that want to establish themselves in a positive light.

      There’s no harm in going in a forum and writing out a thoughtful answer to someones question.

      Will that always produce a conversion? No.

      But you better believe most people will check out your site, you will get followers, and you may build relationships that help you grow as a blog and a business.

      Forum marketing happens to be one of the top platforms on our list because the fact that people are on there because they are already hungry for a sense of community.

      If they aren’t getting the answers they need, and you come in with a killer combination of resolutions for them, they will look to your site for that platform.

      That’s where either your own forum, email list, or active community of commenters comes into play.

      If you don’t have any of those… no big deal, but engaging in this type of marketing is exactly how you start creating that!

  22. Chere says:

    Hi Matt,

    This is really a lot of great, useful information! I keep coming back to it to re-read parts of it..thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Chere,

      I’m glad you got a lot out of it, enough to give it a few more reads! Comprehension really takes effect on the 3rd read for me.

      That’s the time when you drill down to how these concepts and steps

      A.) Apply to your niche
      B.) How you can creatively implement them.

      Happy Hunting!

      Matt

  23. Kay Franklin says:

    I would like to add to the comment about women on the warrior forum!

    Forum marketing is a great way to find out exactly what people in your market are looking for and therefore provides you with plenty of ideas for your own product creation.

    There are plenty of women marketers out there, maybe we are just not as “loud” as the guys! :-)

    • Hi Kay,

      Sorry for the delay in replying, I actually took a rare vacation and didn’t plug-in…ahhhh, what a sweet retreat that was…

      Having our audience tell us what products to develop, was a giant epiphany for us turn of this year.

      So much time can be misused developing a product in a bunker, then launch it the way you want them to receive it, not the way they want to, leading to sales flat-lining.

      I’m learning a vast amount from women leaders as I grow our practice.

      Thanks – Matt

  24. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a lot of folks that are really, really good at what they do and are really, really smart, and I leverage those relationships so I can bring what I’ve learned from them back to Good Samaritan. Will I do it exactly the way they did it? No, because I may or may not have the resources. It’s like when I was telling you before we started recording about me building a coffee table that my wife saw in a magazine. Is it just exactly like it? No, but it’s what she wanted. It’s made out of the material that she wanted. I made her happy, so I’m good. You incorporate that knowledge and bring it back locally. So that’s my advice — reach out to those networks of individuals, ones that you trust their knowledge, and create those relationships that could come in real handy when things are not going well, or you’re about to step onto thin ice and you really don’t know where the stones are underneath the ice that’ll support you.

  25. Jason@Social Media Privacy APP says:

    Online marketing rule of the thumb is that you help people get what they want by answering their inquiries. Let’s face it, people compare products and will research about it many times before buying something. They go to forums and social media sites to ask help or advice on what is the best and this is where we come in. By narrowing choices and giving them tips and points to consider before they buy something you are helping them decide on what is the best. People love this kind of information and will surely spread the word about it!

  26. I think the most concrete way to start a relationship, is by starting out with a focus of saving them time and money.

    So many folks have already been ripped off, then tried themselves and hit walls, ending in quitting and moving on.

    There is a plethora of shallow advice and overpriced tools that don’ t work. The internet is completely littered with them.

    Save them time -> money -> stress -> Sanity in that order and you have the formula for creating advocates.

    Appreciate your insight Jason – Matt

  27. [...] and start posting in any forum. I would suggest you start by reading this great write up on “How to be Conversation Firestarter”  before you sign up or join any forum not matter which one you [...]

  28. Ti Roberts says:

    Matt,

    This is truly an excellent post. Forum engagement is definitely an art form and it takes a while to really master it. However, once you’ve become an authority on a high traffic forum, like the Warrior Forum, the sky’s the limit.

    I’ve sought to be come an authority on the WF many times and I’ve made a bit of leeway. The issue that I have is not being consistent with my efforts.

    Effective forum engagement is the same as building buzz and engagement around your blog. You have to be persistent and consistent with your efforts to get noticed and really start tipping the scales.

    I’m gearing up for a major WF campaign here soon to build buzz around my new product and drive traffic. So I just had to come back by and reference this post to ensure the that I’m properly equipped and knowledgeable in effectively executing my campaign.

    You really did do a great job with the piece and I appreciate you drawing my attention to it – Thanks!

    I’ll definitely be returning to this post frequently for future reference. :)

    Ti

  29. […] products, and consumers can’t trust them to tell the whole story. Lots of people lave learned how to use forums and websites to provide unbiased reviews and advices – something that has long been lacking […]

  30. […] they’re everywhere! Tons of people have learned how to use forums, and website owners run them on topics from personal fitness to parenthood, to the environment to […]

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