There are thousands of newsgroups and forums online. They provide a fascinating and useful insight into minds and methods of others who share our interests. They also act as an amazing resource for finding out almost anything you need to know.
Want your website critiqued? Ask at a forum. Want to know how to salvage Outlook? Ask at a forum. Want to know if a particular book is worth buying? Ask at a forum.
Almost anything is fair game - providing it is reasonably on topic. And dropping in to forums is a great way for newcomers to a field to rub shoulders with old hands.
This openness leads to a temptation that is repeated over and over again. "Ah," many people think, "a highly targeted market! I must post an ad for my site and watch them beat my door down to buy my wares."
Wrong. That is fastest way to oblivion.
Forums are not advertising notice boards. They are not like pin board in kitchen that anyone can put up a 'for sale' ad on.
Forums are much more like coffee machine or water cooler. People hang out, swap ideas, chat for a while. They don't want someone popping up every five minutes trying to sell them something. They are trying to chill out.
That is warning. But like all warnings, it has a caveat: there are ways to get your advertising message across - if you follow unwritten rules.
So I figured I'd write those unwritten rules down.
The key to 'advertising' on forums and newsgroups is not to.
As soon as you put up a post that even looks remotely like an ad, you will usually either be removed by a moderator or flamed by incensed members. Quite right. They didn't ask for your commercial break and they certainly don't appreciate your intrusion.
Then, worst thing of all happens: your reputation is shot. Anyone in business should have a mind to long term. It is pointless to try to make money from one promotion - real value of marketing is repeat business. Spam boards and forums and you will quickly find that word spreads. Nobody will want to do business with you.