Building Community and Attracting Engagement on Your Start-up Blog
Mommy bloggers. We all know of this subset of the blogosphere dedicated to the joys and headaches of child rearing. But in a way, one might conceive that every blogger is a mommy blogger.
If you’re a blog author, you can relate to the excitement that comes from ushering a post into the world, the responsibility you take on for growing it up right, and the sense of personal accomplishment you get when KPIs improve. Like a proud parent, you care about your blog’s success. When you chose to give life to and maintain a blog, you did so with the hope that over time, it would become the best it could be, with smart things to share and a healthy social sphere.
So, you’ve done what every good parent does for a growing baby blog. You’ve fed it with unique content and dressed it up nice in a sleek and modern design. You’ve dedicated time and TLC to measuring its growth, in terms of subscribers, traffic and rankings. And with baby looking fresh and friendly, you’ve brought it to the playground to make friends. But try as you might, no one’s coming by to say hi.
When you’ve reached the stage in your blog’s development where you feel the quality content is there, it’s time add tactics to your blogging duties to grow readership and connect the blog to online communities. It can be discouraging to feel like no one’s listening as you send your blog posts into the silent abyss of cyberspace. By undertaking opportunities to attract readers and encourage interaction, you can help ensure your blogging efforts don’t go unnoticed.
Reach out with helping hands. Guest posts are a great way to introduce your blog to established communities, and they work both ways. You can be a guest blogger on other blogs or you can invite people to be guests on your blog. When you publish a guest post on another blog, you have an opportunity to introduce your blog to that audience. When a blogger takes a turn with a guest post on your blog, they’ll bring with them their network to read and share that post. If there’s synergy between your intended audience and the guest post audience, this effort may help to attract some of that built-in community to your blog.
Pander to the crowd. I mean this in the best way possible. Sucking up once in a while might make a good impression on the audience you’re trying to attract. When you first created your blog, there’s a good chance you envisioned it as a way to say the things that are on your mind, to share your strokes of brilliance or your insightful opinions. But have you given much thought to the type of content your intended audience is hungry for? There’s no doubt that your blog has the potential to surprise and delight, but every once in a while, it’s good for building community when you give the people what they want. Whether its an activity calendar or an interview with an industry notable, useful, share-worthy content can help grow your readership.
Be a conversation starter. One way of getting community involvement on your blog may be to ask for it. Prompt a discussion. Ask a question. Take a poll. Be a conversation enabler. If people don’t seem to be leaving comments, you may consider using the Facebook Connect comment widget instead of the blog platform’s built-in comment system. By letting Facebook be the mechanism for leaving comments, you may remove a barrier to those who hesitate to fill out fields because there’s a good chance they’re already signed in to Facebook. It may also remove some of the hassle of comment moderation as people will be on best behavior, since they’re not able to leave an anonymous comment. Possibly the best advantage of using Facebook for comments is the way a user’s comment is shared with their network through the news feed, meaning more eyeballs being drawn to the conversation and your blog.
Piggy-back on influencers. If you’ve got a Twitter presence, you’re wisely using the platform to promote your blog. Here’s one Twitter-related tactic you might try: Identify well-followed Twitter users in your niche. Go through their streams to see the kinds of blogs and posts they link to, the Twitter accounts they reply to and any retweets they make. Then do what you can to fit that model with a post that targets their preferences. If you can get an industry influential to reply to or retweet you, you can get your name in front of their stream and hopefully attract some of that audience to your blog.
Those are some ways I’ve found success for new bloggers looking to build up their audience and instigate community participation. What are some ways you’ve found to draw new readers and spark conversations on a blog? Care to comment? :)