January 17, 2010

How to engage your blog’s community

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This is part of the series 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media.

Guest post by Danny Brown

There has been much written about what makes a good blog community. So I’m not going to talk about that today.

Instead, I’d like to offer some ideas on how you can best engage your blog community once you’ve started to grow one. The great news is, with social media it’s never been easier to really connect with your readers and visitors. And since I’m a big believer that even just one single regular reader or subscriber is a community, then even if you’re a new blogger this should help.

It doesn’t end with the comments

One of the most immediate ways for any blogger to engage his or her community is via the comments section. After all, this is where you should be spending the majority of your blogging time — yes, much more than the actual blog writing itself.

Yet so many bloggers invite comments, answer them, then that’s it. This is the equivalent of just having your voicemail on and never taking calls. To really engage, try some of the following:

  • Valeria Maltoni frequently emails her commenters (manually – no auto-email program) to thank them for their comments. A great personal touch.
  • Twitter is a great way to continuously engage your blog community. Offer the option for commenters to leave their Twitter IDs, and thank them via Twitter for their comment (with a link to the comment itself).
  • If you see a particularly great comment, ask the author to guest post and expand on his or her views. What better way to engage with people than offering them the chance to engage further with the community itself?

Lead and be led

In his book Tribes, Seth Godin suggests that everyone has the capacity to be a leader. The same goes for your blog community – while you’re essentially “the leader” because it’s your community that people are becoming part of, why not offer everyone the chance to be a leader?

  • Always ask what your community would like to read about. This doesn’t mean you have to lose your own voice, but it does mean you can offer one for so many others.
  • Introduce polls to see what your community is thinking. This could be something as simple as a “Did you like this post” thumbs up or down, to a fully-fledged poll on the topic being discussed and what parts connected.
  • Consider adding a forum where your community can engage not only you but your other community members too. This is simple to do as well – just set up a Ning community, for example, and link to it.

These are just some of the immediate ways you can start to engage your blog community. There are many more — ones that may be better suited to you. Google Friend Connect, for instance, also offers a hugely effective way for your community to engage each other.

The main thing is that you engage and really converse with the community that’s making your blog what it is. Otherwise, you may as well just have a static website. And where’s the fun in that?

Sir Daniel Brown is the social media strategist for Maritz Canada, publishes an Ad Age top-rated blog,  and is founder of 12for12k.

Homework: Pick an idea from this post and try it. Note the results.

If you don’t want to miss out on the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media, please sign up.

Cross-posted from JohnHaydon.com.

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