Are you actively building community on your blog?
"Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing."
~ Rollo May ~
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?"
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.
- 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…
- Pick one of the six tips to implement in the next week.
- If you need a specific tool to implement the tip, then get it, install it, use it.
- 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.
- If you have questions about what and how to do it, post them in the comments below or on my Facebook page.
- At the end of the week, report on your results in the comments below.