Getting Visitors, Part 3

Forums

Forums or message boards offer your site visitors a platform to interact with one another, to hold discussions and to provide opinions about various topics. By opening up your site like this, you are allowing site visitors to establish a rapport with you. This is particular important if you are looking for loyal followership for your site and subsequently your business.

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A versatile tool to use in creating social networks and forums is Ning. This is a web-based service that allows you to create your own social network. This platform now has 37 million users and an upward of 1.6 millions social networking networks. You can create a network based on different niches and the members of your social network can engage in conversations, create their own profiles, send messages and install third party application on their profiles. Use Ning to get customer feedback about your product offering, an article that you shared with them and generally, what they think of your brand. You can also use this platform to encourage those in your network to hold discussions on certain topics that may or may not relate directly to your business.

You can use several site review plug-ins but whichever you use, ensure that the output is supported by Google rich snippet program. This will allow you to submit you website for Google to review and index the site based on the reviews. Some tools and widgets to use are Zagat (for restaurant reviews), WordPress Review Site plug-in and Alexa Reviews widget.

One approach to take in creating your site is to write your own reviews. If you are selling products or services for someone else, it is a good idea to use them and then write a review for your site visitors. However, a more preferable approach is to allow user generated reviews to feature on your site. This will encourage site users to interact with you and among themselves. Hold review contests to encourage people to submit reviews to your site. Use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to publicize the contest.

However, make sure that you are not giving out incentives for people to write false reviews.

Remember, though, that reviews can make or break your online business. You need to moderate the reviews on your site. This does not mean that you filter out criticisms or negative comments. It means that you attempt to moderate reviews that are ‘spammy’ or those that are simply false.

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