Building Community on Your Blog

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Are you actively building community on your blog?

"Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing."

~ Rollo May ~

Build Community on Your Blog

Blog community has been on my mind as I developed a webinar for Social Media Biz School and on the same day read a fabulous post by Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion, about using blog comments to build community.

Initially, I think most bloggers don't consider the value of community building. They're focused on their editorial calendar, the look and feel of their site, developing content and getting it distributed on their social outposts.

Then, reality sets in. "Is anyone reading my posts?" begins to creep into your thinking. 

"Am I writing to myself?"

"Does anyone care what I have to say?"

Enter community.

Community may not be part of the strategic plan for your blog. That's OK and, it's important to know the goal and purpose of your content and site so you can make that decision. But let's say you do want to build an engaged, vibrant community of "1000 Fans" ala Kevin Kelley

“A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.”

To carry through Kevin Kelley's example, if each fan spends $100 per year on your products and services, and you have 1000 "true fans", you will have a nice six-figure income of $100,000.

The question then becomes… how do you build a community of fans?

6 Tips for Building Community on Your Blog

1. Comments. The obvious place to start. Take full advantage of this powerful blog feature. How do you encourage more comments?

  • Ask questions at the end of your post
  • Interact with your readers by acknowledging their comments
  • Answer questions that arise in the comments
  • Set the tone you want and moderate comments if you're getting a lot of spam
  • Go one step further and check out your readers' blogs and comment on their posts
  • Be positive, encouraging and grateful for the time your reader took to share his/her time and thoughts with you

2. Make it all about your reader. Remember, no one cares that you're an expert. Most everyone wants to know how you can solve their problems.

  • Focus on what your readers wants. Comments and feedback will give you a lot of clues.
  • Answer reader questions. Post a form on your site soliciting questions.
  • Post questions for discussion (Michael Martine at Remarkablogger does this well).
  • Put the spotlight on your readers by doing a shout out in a post or featuring their questions or comments
  • Give your readers center stage…profile active commenters in your posts once in a while
  • Create a weekly roundup featuring links to your readers' content (check out the Fetching Friday Resources Mashup on Kikolani.com for a great example)

3. Make your content interactive. Everyone loves to share their opinion.

 

4. Solicit guest posts and invite your audience to contribute content.

  • Articles
  • Tutorials
  • Gather a selection of tips on a subject (I did four posts on list building tips that featured 21 contributors)
  • Post images and request suggestions for captions

5. Create action steps. While it's nice to express your opinion on what and why your reader should do something, giving them action steps so they can immediately implement your advice helps build credibility with your audience and demonstrates that not only do you know what you're talking about, they can be successful to if they apply what you teach.

  • Give step by step homework
  • Include a video tutorial
  • Post an assignment related to your article and ask your readers to submit their results in the comments.

6. Create more connection points with your fans and take your community off the blog. Your audience spends time on social networks so do a poll (see #3) to find out where the majority spend their social time and engage with them there.

  • Create a private forum (either paid or free)
  • Publish a newsletter with different content (good for building your list!)
  • Create a group(s) on your primary topic, on Facebook or LinkedIn (I have very active communities on both Facebook – mostly about business blogging – and on LinkedIn – focus on online visibility – and it's a great way to add another layer of connection to what happens on my blog)

Take Action Now!

Give it a try…here are your blog community building action steps…

  1. Pick one of the six tips to implement in the next week.
  2. If you need a specific tool to implement the tip, then get it, install it, use it.
  3. Focus on just one activity for the week. Don't try to implement more than one tactic since you'll want to be able to determine what results you get and focusing on one at a time will give your clearer feedback.
  4. If you have questions about what and how to do it, post them in the comments below or on my Facebook page.
  5. At the end of the week, report on your results in the comments below. :-)
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Comments

  1. says

    The whole concept of blog sites being communities is an interesting one. The building of the community is one of those core tasks that many successful bloggers promote as being essential to the success of the blog. And that part certainly makes sense to me. But my question is, can a blog, no matter how wildly successful it becomes, ever measure up to the definition of community in the truest sense of the word? Sure, a great blog will generate a number of interactions/exchanges with its subscribers, and there may be some interactions between the subscribers themselves, via a few lines in a comments box, (such as this), or a few separate email exchanges even. And there are a few very rare occasions that subscribers might choose to meet face to face at a blogging conference or seminar. But overall, are these interactions (or whatever we want to call them), which are usually confined to the virtual world, really of the substance that would constitute a community? And if a successful blog suddenly shuts down tomorrow, for whatever reason, does that community continue to exist? Do members/subscribers continue to build connections of substance with each other, that really endure across the years, and can those interactions flourish separately and independently from the blog where they originated? Maybe I’m getting too bogged down with this word ‘community’….Thanks again!

  2. says

    I love this topic Denise, one of my favorites and one I’ve been implementing over at my blog as well.

    Asking questions and getting your commenters engaging is to me the best part. They feel like they are part of a community and they love to be heard.

    I have a guest blogger just once a month and this month’s guest is killing it so far with the interaction. I just love seeing everyone share their thoughts and ideas about the content. It’s so much fun.

    I like the idea of the pop up that Kristi uses to ask more questions from her readers. That’s a great idea, I just usually ask them on my Facebook fan page and get ideas there. I’ve yet to include any polls but that’s another thing I’ve been thinking about.

    I’m always grateful to my readers and tell them all the time how much I appreciate them. I know they really appreciate that too so that does go a very long way.

    Thanks for sharing these awesome tips and I’ll be using a few of these myself in the near future.

    ~Adrienne

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Adrienne. Sounds like you’re rockin’ it on you blog and that you have a super engaged community. Which tip do you think you’ll try out in the future? Would love to hear how it works for you…blog on!

      • says

        Hi Denise,

        I am very blessed that I have such a wonderful community over at my place. Very supportive and loyal readers.

        I’m definitely going to look into that pop-up that Kristi has on her blog. I mean I never run out of ideas but I definitely prefer giving my readers what they want instead of me just sharing what I know. I get interaction on my fan page but not everyone on my blog is over there so I think that’s really a great idea. I’ll start there. :-)

        I’ll let you know how that goes, thanks so much for sharing that.

        ~Adrienne

  3. says

    I’ve learned that engaging your blog commenters is one of the best ways of building a quality following. Ignore your blog post comments, and they will just go away.

      • says

        Amen, Denise! Twitter is the same way. You can tweet tweet tweet all day, but until you’re including @ mentions, you’re pretty much shouting in the woods, all alone. It gets lonely out there!

  4. says

    Tx Denise it’s Christine.

    I’ve had this on my follow up and after several hours of book marketing last night now into Thursday I am getting this comment

    First, thank you as always for your informative posts and articles, your wisdom and guidance has been terrific and so helpful to me as I just rolled out:
    My debut eBook “Life on A Shoestring .. In Beverly Hills?” ( http://www.lifeonashoestringinbeverlyhills.com )
    My weekly inspirational Feel And Think Better Blog that ties to cost savings and inspiration.
    And
    My phone consultations (first 15 minute one free then a fee thereafter), for cost savings and inspiration with day-to-day living and especially with with folks coming to Hollywood (entertainment industry) or living in their hometown pursuing creative/entertainment work, while living on a ‘shoestring’ spending plan!
    So my question is in your experience, how do I get people to read and comment on my Blog, which in turn has them inspired or makes them laugh, so they learn more about me and in turn would want to purchase my eBook for more or perhaps book a phone consultation?
    My 3, 000 plus folks I have emails on between my personal list, Facebook and other social media sites etc. are not my customers they are supportive friends and colleagues etc. I let them know what I’m up to and many have bought the book in support and really find it helpful, but I don’t bombard them.
    I know to get some folks to take a peek, I can engage on other Blogs and comment, do Ad words to drive people to click, etc. but…where is the best place to find targeted newbie’s for my topic? Is there a ‘reverse search’ (ha) where you can key in on search engines “Customers that are looking for a book on cost savings and inspiration?” — then those folks and their emails would pop up! (ha) would be a cool service indeed! Any other suggestions as where we we would cast our nets to get customers?

  5. says

    Denise,
    I like your ideas & I plan to maybe try the pop-up form to get people to send me their ideas. I’ve been looking for ways to do that & you just gave me a way!

    Thanks!

  6. says

    Hi Denise,
    I always look forward to Kristi’s weekly roundup of links to great articles. Yesterday, when I checked, the first post I clicked on was Marcus Sheridan’s guest post on Social Media Examiner about blog commenting. It was full of helpful tips and I enjoyed reading it.
    I think that’s one strategy worth implementing as I’m sure many of Kristi’s readers appreciate being provided with great reads.
    It also makes sense to follow your action steps of picking one tip at a time and monitoring the results to see what works well for your blog.
    Thanks for your ideas and suggestions!

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by Theresa. I find that many people are overwhelmed with all they can do to promote their blog. Focusing on one action until you master it and see results is better than the intention to do it all and ultimately doing nothing. Blog on!

  7. says

    Really great tips Denise. Building community is truly central to our blogging efforts. I like the idea of doing polls and surveys. Need to try that myself. Another idea that I learned from Todd Nielsen of A Slice of Leadership is doing a “Blogathon” on your blog and recruit people to be featured on your Blogathon. I am doing my 30x30x30 June Blogathong – 30 days x 30 thought leaders x 30 awesome posts. I was amazed how quickly I was able to recruit 30 different people simply by tapping into my community on Twitter, Facebook, G+, etc. Stop by my blog from June 1 to check it out. I have already posted a preview of week 1 contributors. Thanks again for a useful post.
    Peter

  8. says

    I think I’ve done all of these things, but I am more consistent at some than others. The one I do least is #5 – Create Action Steps, so I will be sure to work on that this week. Thanks for the great pointers!

  9. says

    Denise – Thank you for all the tips!

    I especially like the “weekly roundup featured links” and the “pop up form” for topic suggestions both from Kikolani.com.

    I have had good success with using a “topics of interest” Radio Button on my Aweber Opt-In, however I’m doing a site reno and with my new messaging using the “topics of interest” selection on the Opt-In would be too much.

    The “pop up form” would be able to accomplish the same goal…learning what the people want, without the confusion.

    Thank you for the great suggestions – Theresa :)

  10. says

    Denise, thank you for these resources. This is a wealth of information. I’m really going to try to get at least one of the tools in #6 going as I would like to get offline relationships flowing.

    • says

      Hey Marcie, thanks for stopping by. I find it’s beneficial to build communities on other networks since you have an opportunity to attract new people who may not run across your site otherwise. Let me know how it goes for you…blog on!

    • says

      Thanks for commenting, Louise. I’ll probably write up a post about CommentLuv and a couple other plugins I’m using with it to create more connection for people on the blog. I’ll keep you posted.

  11. says

    Fantastic article Denise – Thank you! What I love most is how you modelled so many of these tips within just one article. I have a private Facebook group as part of a membership program, but I’ve seen examples of very successful groups that are free as well. I will check yours out.
    Thanks and warm wishes,
    Cindy

    • says

      Thanks for your generous comment, Cindy. Glad you find value in the article. I’ve found groups to be a powerful way to build rapport, get to know what people are looking for and are challenged with, as well as attract traffic back to my site. It’s all good…blog on!

  12. says

    Great tips, love them all! I have some of everything, yeah me!

    Definitely want to put more focus around #2 though, need to find some unique ways to draw people in to answer more of my questions.

    Great idea from David as well… love that!

    • says

      Yay you, Lori! Thanks for stopping by and congrats on integrating various community building tactics on your blog. I’d say #2 is a challenge for a lot of bloggers since we naturally want to share our expertise and forget that usually, it’s not about us. Blog on!

  13. Andy bailey says

    Hi Denise, 
    Its great that you've installed commentluv to your site. It looks great here but you might want to get rid of the fancy editor on the comment textarea though because it uses a method which means commentluv cannot detect when someone clicks in to it so they would have to untick and then tick the box for it to fetch their posts.
    Plus it makes it quite difficult to enter a comment using an iPad (which I'm using now which is making it difficult to edit the text when I make a typo – which is often!)
    Feel free to contact me any time if you have any questions!

  14. says

    A good example of how important it's to build your community online is that Obama won the elections thanks to the online community his team has developed.
    Thank you for sharing these great tips

  15. says

    Great article Denise (as usual),
    One thing I've tried to do lately is go back to the sites of people who are commenting on my blog and if they have a great site, I reply to the person's comments and tell my readers to go visit their site or go buy their book or I ask the commenter to put a link to their site in the comments.
    The more you promote others, the more they'll promote you.
    P.S. I'm learning a lot from you Denise! :-)

    • says

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, David. You've got a great strategy there…it definitely helps to promote others. One of the most popular things I do is Brag about Your Blog occasionally on my Facebook page. My fans love the opportunity to share a link to their blog and discover new blogs to visit. And I love it because I get to learn so much about the people who clicked the like button on my page.

  16. says

    Hi Denise, 
    I find that using the CommentLuv Premium plugin, is a great way to encourage commenting on my blog. Most of my posts have an average of 50 -80 comments on them and it is a vital part of my blog’s community. Commenters get to choose which one of their posts they want to link to and most of them try to leave links to related content. This helps them with their SEO efforts as well.

    I also like to include video and audio content and people spend a lot of time on my blog watching the videos and listening to the audio podcasts. 

    I haven’t done a poll lately but not too long ago I held a contest that got a ton of entries and lots of engagement. Raffle Copter is a cool service to use for contests because winners are picked randomly which gives everyone a fair chance. 

    I certainly need to check out your webinar Denise, thanks for the links and all of the other resources as well. 

    • says

      Hi Ilene, thanks for stopping by! And funny you should mention CommentLuv. I just switched today from Disqus to CommentLuv because I've heard so much great feedback about the plugin.  Sounds like you are rockin' it with your community! Blog on!

      • says

        Congrats Denise! CommentLuv is looking good here and I'm sure Andy Bailey will be happy to hear that you installed it. 
        Have a great weekend!

  17. says

    I find it not as easy on a retail website’s blog compared to a personal blog to get community going.  I’m not if it’s the blog format vs the contest. Great tips I’ll try to incorporate. Thanks.

  18. cherylpickett says

    Hey Denise, I’ll start things off today :-). You suggest to bring in guest posts. While I like the idea, I’ve also read discussions elsewhere that doing so turns some people off. Basically, they’re there to hear from you and if they want to hear from someone else they’ll follow them, kind of thing. Your thoughts/experiences with that aspect?

    Also, my big “soapbox” issue lately with regard to this topic is make sure there is a way for people to subscribe to or at least get replies to their comments. using Disqus like you do is one way but there are others as well. Not sure if that’s a newer thing or not, but amazes me how many don’t have it, even people I’d consider to be at much higher levels than myself as far as online marketing skills.

    • says

      Hey Cheryl, thanks for jumping in first! On your first point, I’ve never had anyone tell me that they didn’t like the fact that I occasionally feature guest bloggers. Never. Now maybe they leave and never come back and don’t tell me, and that’s OK. In fact, I’ve been thanked more than once for introducing a new voice and spotlighting another expert because more than me simply broadcasting what I know, I feel it’s important to get my readers the best content from the best experts.

      On your second point, I’m not sure if it’s a trend or not about not including an option to get subscribe to comments. Mostly I think people are lazy and don’t really dig into their plugins and software to find out what it can do and they just don’t know. Personally, I like to give people the choice. And, when I comment on a blog, I like to subscribe so I know if the author responds to me.

      Blog on!