At present there are over 3.3 billion pages indexed by Google, and that definitely does not cover the entire Internet. With so many competitors around, you sure have to use every conceivable method available to promote your website.
Newsgroups can be very powerful tools in your web promotion endeavor if you use them actively.
What is a Newsgroup?
A newsgroup is a message board on the Internet where users come to discuss topics of mutual interest. Each newsgroup is dedicated to a particular subject of interest and consists of messages posted by participants. You can find several ongoing discussions surrounding various topics within a single newsgroup. These topics are call threads. As a user you can start a thread, post messages to a thread and make responds to other postings.
Before the Internet era, the way you know it now, back in eighties and early nineties people used to connect to electronic bulletin boards (bbs) through modems and post text messages for others to read and answer. Usenet Newsgroups was started as a collection of these bulletin boards. Along with the Internet, Newsgroups have also started to grow rapidly. Thanks to the Interface introduced by Deja News in 1995 use of Newsgroups became simple and convenient, which also gave enough impetus to this growth.
Today, Usenet discussion forums or Newsgroups indexed by Google comprise over 800 million messages, which is around a terabyte of information! It is calculated that over 10 million people have regular access to Newsgroups!
Each newsgroup is formed with a certain purpose. This is described in its charter at the time it is started. Normally every Newsgroup has its own single subject. However there could be many Newsgroups dedicated to one subject.
There are tens of thousands of newsgroups on every subject you can possibly imagine. The subjects in Newsgroups are hierarchically structured. Some of them are moderated, means somebody controls the postings, most don’t.
How to use Newsgroups?
Since there are so many newsgroups, whatever your interest is you will most likely find a newsgroup which will suit you. Although, most email readers have built-in features to subscribe Newsgroups the most convenient way to read newsgroups today is to use “Google Search”. Once you are on the search page of the Google, Click on the Groups from the menu. This will take you to Groups search page with a directory of Newsgroups under the headline ‘Post and read comments in Usenet discussion forums’. The most common subdirectories for businesses are located in alt, biz and misc. For example: If you are in import and export business you might try alt.business. imort-export, which has several groups within it.
Run a search using a keyword related to your online business that you would like to promote from the groups search page of Google. The result will appear chronologically, the most recent one being at the top. Check out the most relevant Newsgroups from the results. If your search produces a very big list of results, try the advanced search option. Try reducing the time frame of postings. By default Google searches within all messages posted from 1981.
For really worthwhile information I’ll suggest to use moderated groups. Most Newsgroups which are not moderated easily fill up with spam and you really have to wade through them to find something interesting.
Did you notice that Google has a new paid service under the name “Google Answers”? For a fee Google nominated researchers will get answers to your hard to find questions. The service is located at http://answers.google.com. If you go through the questions that are already asked, you will be amazed to see that by searching newsgroups you will find answers to many of them without paying a dime. Newsgroups are indeed a gold mine of information!
Benefits of using Newsgroups
As an online business you can rip varieties of benefits from effective use of Newsgroups.
Establish yourself as an expert of your chosen field People will prefer doing business with you if they know that you are an expert in your field. Post important and relevant information in your chosen Newsgroup, answer to the questions posted. Very soon, people from the Newsgroup will start considering you as an expert and you will be amazed to see quantity of new visitors checking out your site.
Conduct market survey
Newsgroups can be a great source of marketing information. By asking questions in relevant Newsgroups you can find a way of figuring out what people think about your product, your website, etc.
Get new clients
There are Newsgroups, which are formed with the sole purpose of various announcements and promotions. Prudent use of these Newsgroups along with your relevant Newsgroups will definitely increase your site traffic and get new clients.
Promote your site
In relevant groups you can post announcement about your site launch, press releases, product information, etc. Participation in the discussions in your subject matter with your signature file, which should include your website address, will help getting new visitors and increase the quantity of backward links to your website.
Get answers to your questions
You can’t be an expert in every thing! Often, you will need answers to various questions. Ask them in relevant Newsgroups along with your signature file. Not only you will have answers to your questions, along with this you will also promote your site.
Newsgroups can be a great place to find like-minded friends and partners.
Posting do’s and don’ts
You have to be very careful with what you post in a Newsgroup. Before making your first post, go through the FAQ and posting rules of the Newsgroup and read some of the postings. You want to position yourself as an expert not an idiot! Some Newsgroups users are pretty aggressive. If they feel that you are spamming their precious Newsgroup you will be flamed in no time.
Here are some basic rules:
- Don't post commercials, advertisements or press releases; unless the newsgroup specifically mentions that it endorses these things.
- While posting a respond, stick to the original topic.
- Quote only the portion of the message you are responding not the whole message.
- Don’t cross post. This means, do not post same messages in several relevant Newsgroups.
- Never post unrelated messages to Newsgroups. This is considered as spamming!
- While posting a message be specific and concise in the subject line.
- Post your signature file with each and every message. This is important for your web promotion!
- Check your spelling and grammar before posting a message.
The idea is to make valuable contribution to the Newsgroups and by doing so at the same time promote your online business. Ask questions that you perceive useful to you and others. Post responds to messages, which are informative, thought-provoking and of high quality. Soon you will build credibility among your fellow Newsgroup members and start receiving a flow of loyal customers.
Nowshade Kabir is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of Rusbiz.com – a Global B2B Exchange with solutions to create e-catalog, Web store, business process management and other features to run a business online. You can read various articles written by Nowshade Kabir at http://ezine.rusbiz.com.