Your blog posts are great but are you building a loyal readership by adding community-aspects to your blog. I have the availability for my readers to consume my posts in a variety of formats. RSS Subscriptions, Email Subscriptions, and of course direct traffic. But in order to really establish a loyal user base, you need to be able to connect with your readers.
Blog posts are static, they are the information I distribute and push out. Blog posts are not personal, they cannot interact, they do not engage. But just because a blog post is limited in forms of engagement, it doesn’t mean that your blog “Brand” has to be.
Create a community around your blog to really take it to the next level.
When I speak in terms of “Community” I specifically mean an opportunity to offer readers additional places to connect and interact with you, but also an opportunity for your readers to interact with other readers.
I created the 28 Day Challenge out of spontaneous reactions from readers. Great folks like Tyler Hurst, Ross Simmonds, Matt Stratton, and many many others jumped on board, and off we went. It was and because it’s ongoing, still is a great chance for people to participate in a common goal or project.
The 28 Day Challenge has definitely added a great sense of community for me and brought together some great connections with people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I’m excited to see where this takes me and the participants.
You don’t need a monumental idea. You just need something that brings good folks together.
Many blogs also have a Facebook Page dedicated to them…I do not. If you do decide to create a Facebook Page, or already have one for your blog, make sure you’re adding new content and creating engagement opportunities that do not happen on the original blog.
A Facebook Page doesn’t add value if you’re simply posting articles from the blog.
You need to create extra content specific to Facebook Fans, or at least generate dialogues you can’t have at your blog. I am a fan of a few different blogs on Facebook…but I don’t think I’ve seen 90% of their updates in my feed. Not because I’m not interested, but because they just don’t show up. Is that because they’re not updating the Page? No, it means that the interaction of fans is small.
Because of Facebook’s new updated algorithm, if you don’t have several people engaging in your posts…very few of your fans will see the updates. Have a different dialogue on your page to give some real value.
Build a sense of community through the content you distribute via email. Tim Jahn of Beyond the Pedway sends me and his other subscribers a weekly newsletter regarding the state of video content and video marketing tips.
This information is only available via his newsletter. His blog is strictly video interviews, so his newsletter is valuable to his viewers because it offers new content that’s not available any other way.
This is an option I am in the process of creating. You can currently get my updates via email, but I didn’t want to offer a newsletter without the proper thought into what new and different content I would distribute. If you do have a newsletter, make sure it’s original content not found in any other place on your blog.
I use Aweber because it’s very inexpensive and I can use it across multiple websites and clients to manage different lists. If you just use your own blog, Mail Chimp is FREE for the first 500 subscribers.
LinkedIn Groups are a great place to gather likeminded folks interested in a similar topic. If you decide to create your own group, I strongly recommend revolving it around your topic /industry and not your individual blog name.
Unless you’re Mashable or Techcrunch, you’re going to have a difficult time making people care enough about your specific blog to join up and participate. I manage Chicago Twitter & Social Media, but do not have a group revolved around this blog. I’m looking into that option but currently investing time in other areas like an email list group. (see above).
LinkedIn groups are fantastic for generating discussions and distributing other sources of news content. If you are not 100% invested in managing your own group, join a similar group and become a valued member.
The fastest and easiest place to connect with your blog readers is through comments. Blog post comments are a terrific place for your readers to engage with you, but also with other readers.
I use Disqus to manage comments on my blog. I’ve found it very useful and easy to manage. There are several other plugins or options for comments, but Disqus works fine for me…so I’ll stick with them for a while.
Getting readers to actually post comments is a challenge in itself, and we’ll talk about that in another post. But making comments easy to post and well structured is where you start.
Connect with readers beyond your posts. Create a dynamic and engaging atmosphere for your blog. Not only will you gain more loyal readers, but you’ll also become a better writer.
A community allows a look into your readers and a sense of what information they’re hungry for. Your readers are anxious to tell you what they like and offer opinions, but it’s up to you to provide the right atmosphere.