Business Members Guide
As a business member, you provide a valuable service to our community, offering your specialist expertise and knowledge in your field to help our members and educate our investment community. In return, we allow you to promote your own business in certain, controlled areas of the forum.
Business Membership is not just a buy-and-forget promotional package, indeed it requires significant effort on your part to gain the most benefit from it. Unlike display advertising or sponsorship based marketing, business membership is intended for businesses who want to engage directly with the community, building a strong reputation as a valuable member who provides their knowledge and expertise freely for the benefit of the entire community. The more you engage with the community, the greater the promotional benefits to your business.
This guide details the methods in which you are allowed to promote yourself as a Business Member and expands on the forum rules to provide further guidance as to what is not acceptable.
Posting on the Forums
The core promotional feature available to Business Members is the ability to include a signature block at the bottom of every post you make, which may include information about your business and links to your website or other online profiles.
Coupled with the ability to use a commercial username and avatar if you choose, plus the "Business Member" badge highlighting your commitment to the community and demonstrate your expertise, the signature block provides an opportunity to connect more directly with community members who might be seeking the services you offer.
The way to increase the visibility of your profile and signature is simply to post more on the forums - contribute to the community, add value. However, we caution that volume is not necessarily the best approach - since members will also be making judgements about the quality of the information being shared and not just how much.
How to Promote Your Business
- Upgrade your account to Business Membership
- Post on the forums - contribute.
- Add value to the community.
- Share your knowledge and expertise freely.
- Follow the forum rules.
- Engage with the community by attending meetups and social events - not for the purpose of self-promotion but just to get to know the community and let them get to know you.
- Create an entry in the service provider directory and keep it up to date.
- Make sure your forum profile is complete, including social media links.
- If you use Twitter, add your Twitter ID to your profile and let the administrators know so that your Twitter account can be added to the twitter list which shows on the forum sidebar. See notes below about acceptable usage for Twitter feeds.
- Promote the InvestChat community on your own website and other sites you frequent, so that more people can see the value of your contributions on the site.
- Help the site to grow the community so there is a larger pool of visitors who gain exposure to your business.
What Not to Do
As a Business Member, you should educate yourself as to what activities are not permitted on the forums and indeed, are likely to annoy or frustrate members which could have a negative impact on your reputation. The following items are all strictly against the rules:
- Do not promote or advertise your business in forum posts. This is a sure way to annoy our members and damage your own reputation amongst our community members.
- Do not solicit business in forum posts by suggesting that people contact you or visit your website. Even if you are only trying to help, you should post your knowledge and expertise on the forums for the benefit of all members.
- Answering a question with "you should speak to your advisor/broker/expert/etc" is unhelpful and adds no value to the discussion. Members are here to educate themselves so that they are better informed when speaking to their advisors. While we cannot give specific advice on the forums, we can give general education to help members better understand and judge the advice they will be given.
- Do not link to your own website in forum posts. Even if you have written some amazing articles on your website, you must not link to them. If you would like to promote them on the site, you should quote from them in your discussion and while you are permitted to mention the source, you are not permitted to link to the article.
- Do not contact members directly using Private Conversations to solicit business. A member asking for a recommendation of a service provider is not an invitation to contact them via Private Conversation.
- Do not advertise or post links in status updates or profile posts.
- If a member asks for recommendations of a service provider, you are not permitted to recommend yourself.
- Do not use the various profile fields available for members to display information other than what is intended to be inserted there. For example, do not use the Location field to include anything other than a physical location.
- Do not create more than one entry in the service provider directory - Business Members are allowed to create one single entry in one category. If your business fits in to multiple categories, you should choose one category which fits best. The timelimit restrictions on editing posts do not apply to to service provider directory, so you may edit your entry as often as you like.
- We only accept Twitter feeds which are primarily used for business purposes and do not contain a significant percentage of personal tweets. We cannot selectively block individual tweets which do not comply with our policies - as such any feeds which are deemed to contain content which does not adhere to the policies we set our for acceptable content on our site, will be blocked. This includes any content we deem "NSFW", tasteless or otherwise inappropriate. Please keep this in mind when applying to have your Twitter account included in our feed.
Checklist for Business Members
Don't forget to do the following:
- Upgrade your account to Business Membership
- Choose whether to use a commercial username or your own personal name (see notes below)
- Choose whether to use a commercial avatar or a personal profile photo (see notes below)
- Create a signature to appear on your posts. Be sure to include a link to your website
- Make sure your user profile is complete including relevant social media links
- If you use Twitter, add your Twitter ID to your profile and then contact the administrators for inclusion on the Business Member Twitter feed
- Post an entry in the service provider directory.
Notes: choosing whether to use a commercial username or your personal name as your username is entirely up to you. While we do permit you to use your company name, we actually encourage you to consider using your personal name instead. We believe that if you are posting as a real person, not as a "face-less" company representative, then the other members will respond more warmly to the personal relationships you are able to generate through your involvement in the community. For the same reason, we strongly recommend that you do not use a pseudonym as your username - keep it real.
Similarly, while you are permitted to use a company logo as your avatar - we would suggest that you consider instead using a profile photo of yourself. Again, this should help our members develop a more personal relationship with you as a real person. Once more, we strongly recommend that you do not use some random image as your avatar.
If you have any questions about upgrading your account or your business membership, please email [email protected].
If you require a tax invoice for your membership payment, please email [email protected].
If you have any difficulty creating your signature, updating your profile or creating your directory entry, or if you would like to change your username, please email [email protected].