Usenet was the first social network. And like younger social networks, it can be a great place to connect with your customers and build your brand, especially if you have a niche market. It will require some effort, but it’s worth giving it a try. Here’s how you can use Usenet to help your business.
Before we get too into things, if you’re just finding this article, you might need to know what Usenet is and how it works. We go into a lot more detail in our Educational articles, but here’s the basics.
Usenet was created in 1979 and predated the World Wide Web by over a decade. When commercial Internet was becoming widespread, ISPs often provided free Usenet accounts because it was already full of content and discussions on a wide range of topics.
Today it is still a thriving network, with a tech-savvy clientele contributing billions of new posts per month to the network. And since only a handful of businesses are taking advantage of the platform, there is a lot less competition for attention from those users.
How Usenet Helps Your Business
The thing to understand about Usenet is that this is not paid advertising. It’s social advertising. You are there to engage directly with people, build relationships, and gather a following who recognize your authority on a subject. While this takes longer to build, it is also a way to get more long-term, passionate customers.
Create a Profile
The first thing you have to do is subscribe to a Usenet provider like Newshosting and start setting up your profile. Instead of using personal information, focus on identifying this online presence with your brand.
Depending on the newsreader you choose, you’ll have more or less control over post customization. We recommend using the Newshosting newsreader, which is both powerful and intuitive.
Research and Subscribe to Newsgroups
“Newsgroups” are the forums that people on Usenet communicate with. They are analogous to modern forum boards, but instead of having a lot of different boards for every topic, Usenet organizes its newsgroups into very specific hierarchies to ensure that people will be able to easily find the subject they want to discuss.
Take some time to find newsgroups related to your business. Read what’s been posted there and get a sense of the tone of the newsgroup, whether it’s moderated, if there are any rules (official and unofficial), and how you would fit into it.
Once you’ve chosen the newsgroups that you think you’ll fit into, start engaging with people there. DO NOT start spamming advertisements for your product all over the newsgroup. This is a surefire way to get kicked out if it’s moderated, and roundly ignored if it’s unmoderated. If you want to sell to this community, you have to be part of it.
Instead, try replying to other people. Bring some unique insight to the conversation. You literally should already be an expert in whatever the topic is since you run a business related to it.
Post articles of your own that ask compelling questions or give a different perspective. Your expertise can be incredibly valuable if you present it well.
Review the Data
What is working and not working? Are certain types of posts more likely to generate engagement? Replies instead of original articles? Particular newsgroups are more interested in what you have to say?
Focus your attention on what is working and do more of it. Don’t be afraid to test new messaging strategies so you can always be improving.
As obvious as it sounds, stay somewhat non-controversial. Getting into fights, even when you’re correct, is a good way to get dismissed by many Usenet users. Being a calm adult who respects others in disagreement is vital to building your brand on the network that invented the term “flame war.”
You Can Do This
Usenet can be a bit overwhelming at first, but if you take your time and approach it with long-term goals in mind, you’ll find that using Usenet to help your business is one of the best decisions you could make.