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Business Buzz: The power of groups and forums

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PHUKET: One of the biggest business benefits of social media is creating a database of your perfect customers. Just imagine it: people asking to join your customer list, at no cost to you.

While most people know all about Facebook fan pages, the ‘groups’ option remains a lesser-known factor. People have also probably heard of forums, but again they are used a lot less successfully by businesses to target like-minded people in their target market. That’s probably because the businesses think forums are too hard to set up and maintain. But if done correctly, they can return massive results to marketeers, in terms of both traffic and income. Surprisingly, they are much easier to set up and maintain than you think.

A group, as opposed to a fan page, allows for notifications to be sent to every member of the group. Without going into too much detail here, a group can be set up on any given topic or cause, and like-minded people can join. The groups can be private or public, but the advantage is that everyone in the group is sent ‘push’ messages when content is posted and can see that there is new content. This is a big advantage over the fan page, where about seven per cent of the people who have liked the page actually see the content. To get everyone who has previously said they were interested in your content, you need to boost your posts, which soon becomes expensive.

A forum is another format where someone sets up a platform around a theme or subject, and then members can view and comment. A very well-known example in Thailand is ThaiVisa. Readers can look at and post content, and then make their own comments, all of which gives valuable information to the marketeer.

These platforms are very profitable to set up and operate for two reasons. First of all, you get to brand yourself as an expert or administrator that cares or is knowledgeable about a given topic, allowing you to become an authority figure and influencer – which is very powerful in marketing, as you build trust and rapport with your audience.

The second is that you can control traffic flow, and traffic translates into money. Many people do not realize that by generating lots of traffic, not only do people create more sales, but they are building databases. At the same time, they are normally creating multiple income streams, often getting per-click income and advertising revenue as well. As I have mentioned many times, the money is in the database.

Done correctly, they can be a gold mine. This doesn’t mean you should all rush out tomorrow and set one up, but if you plan it properly and match it correctly to your social media imprint, it can be a great addition to your social media arsenal.

Simon Wetherell is a social media expert, trainer and lawyer. He now resides in Phuket where he trains businesses and individuals on how to profit from the Social Media industry. For more information, visit PhuketOnlineMarketing.com or call him on 095-085 3355.

— Simon Wetherell

 

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