Have you ever done a search on Google and found your answer in forum threads? Try typing in almost any question into Google and you will find many of the answers in online forum threads. Forums get indexed by the search engines like crazy! Also, most forum posts are permanent. They do not usually get deleted.
So as a marketer how do you use the power of online forums to promote your business? First you must realize that each forum has strict rules. On most forums you cannot just regsiter then start posting ads. You will be banned from most forums for doing this.
First, find forums which relate to the topic of your website. Then join these forums and start to become a regular contributor. Answer questions, ask questions, contribute valuable information without promoting your website.
Most forums will allow you to have a signature file. This is a short tagline which will be added to the end of your posts with your name and the url of your website. Use the signature function to promote yourself on forums not the body of the post.
If you start making regular, appropriate posts in top forums in your industry you signature file will get indexed in the search engines with the keywords that are used in the posts. Also you will start to be know as an expert in your industry.
There are, however, forums which will allow blatant advertising! These are usually called free advertising forums. These forums actually encourage you to post blatant ads for your website. The advantage of free advertising forums is that you can post your ads every day without being accused of spamming the forums. The disadvantage is that most people just go on these forums to post ads and they do not enter into a dialogue with other members. Therefore your ad is not seen as many times as on real forums. However if you get creative with your titles you can still get real visitors to your posts on free advertising forums.
So basically you have two strategies when using forums to promote your business online. One is to become a regular contributor on quality forums in your industry. This is more of a long term strategy. Two is to use free advertising forums which allow ads. Both strategies work. Give them a try!