Creating Your Thriving Community
I really believe many bloggers do not do their research; I think they crave a community on their blogs but just seem to go about it in the wrong way.
I see bloggers everywhere I go online. I see them on social media, blogs, and forums I frequent. They have a lot to say. So I get curious and wonder “what is all the fuss about? What am I missing out on?” So I head over to his/her blog.
And find nothing worthwhile. The posts are standard, almost cookie cutter, just like any other blog in their niche. The blog is chock-full of advertisements from vendors and Google. I can barely find the posts. No bother reading anyway because the writing is horrid.
What a waste of my time.
The blogger got my attention but I doubt he or she will build a thriving audience. I’m not coming back. It is obvious he or she is building a site not a community. They simply want traffic to click on the ads, because their content is boring and of horrible quality, not good enough to warrant even a bad comment just for the backlink. (Which is a horrible idea, by the way. I learned the hard way, but that is another post.)
As a blogger you need to attract visitors, yes, but don’t stop there.
Attracting visitors to your blog is just the first step in creating a thriving community. Once you get those visitors to your blog you need to keep them there. How? Let’s discuss that.
In this post I am referring to “blogs” or “bloggers” for simplicity. But this article can also be useful for business owners online and affiliate marketers as well.
1. The Attraction
This is the one thing the bloggers above got right- be everywhere and that they are. Is that enough?
You have read about being everywhere I assume. This is a hot theme in blogging and online income right now. You must be everywhere. What does that mean?
Be where your audience is
Often. All the time. Schedule it in. Do it.
- Other blogs in your niche
- Social Media
You get the point. Only frequent where you know they frequent. Don’t waste time on LinkedIn if you know your readers don’t bother with that platform.
How do you know?
You analyze where they hang out. What they read. Get to know your typical reader. Picture them in your head. Know what they need and want. If needed find out what they like to buy, how much they earn or spend.
Yes, but how do I find this out?
Start off my doing a search online for your keywords or niche to find blogs they read. Visit these blogs. Follow the people they follow. See where those bloggers are. Start there. As you progress you will start to see patterns. You will find forums and Facebook pages they all like to frequent. Be there.
Leave Greatness Behind
It is your time to lure people back to your blog. When you visit those forums, blogs and pages leave intelligent comments. Converse with the natives. People like to flock where they believe they can feel welcome and find knowledge to solve their problems. Give them little bits of this off your blog.
I was on a personal forum the other day, looking for any ideas on how to get my son to do his homework.
He is a smart young man and gets A’s on tests but rarely does his homework. In high school this can bring down grades significantly. I have punished him by taking away everything he loves- computer, friends, TV. He sits in his room staring at the wall. And yet his homework is still not getting done. I am frustrated now.
So I went onto a forum for moms with teens. One mom says give him extra chores. The one thing teens want is to do nothing. DUH! My punishment gave him nothing to do, just what he enjoys anyway. I started giving him more chores, hard chores. Guess what? His homework is getting done.
The mom that gave me that tip did not have a blog but if she did you bet I would have gone to read it, followed her on Twitter and subscribed to her newsletter. She solved my problem and I would want to know if she could solve more.
Sure, this all sounds like a game or strategy, it is. But if you truly want to help others it will show in the words you leave behind. And that is when the magic starts to happen.
People will come to your blog.
2. The Love Affair
You got them to visit! Woo hoo! Now what do you do?
Show your visitors that you mean business and you want them to stay.
Duh! We all know this one, right? Publish great content. I don’t need to go into details because this subject has been rehashed too many times online. If you care to make money and/or have a thriving community online, you know to create some good stuff people want to read.
But I have one more thing to add: Give away the solutions.
Write to people’s pain, worries and problems. And don’t even think about just ranting and raving. Actually give them solutions; proven solutions and/or your solutions.
Talk to your readers off and on your blog.
Get to know them.
I have to admit, this is quite the challenge for me. I have a horrible memory that bites me in the butt every time.
I was having a conversation with a woman not too long ago on Twitter. We were going back and forth about life and blogging. It was a nice talk so I told her that we should meet sometime. She said we did, at Blogher conference. I didn’t remember this and felt like such a heel! I was conversing with her, like I love to do and should, but didn’t remember her and the details of how we met.
Since then I changed my strategy. I needed to learn how to network better.
I started using Evernote online and on my smart phone. I noted everyone and wrote important details! Even people I met in crossing through offline friends for practice. Now when I know I am going to a certain blog, forum or meeting I can bring up that tag in Evernote and recall the conversation we had previously.
Even if you are like me and forget people (not a good trait in business so we both need to work on it) it doesn’t excuse us from engaging with others on our blogs. Be sure to:
3. Share the Love
You’ve got a community ready to hear from you. You know they do because you looked for them, attracted them back to your blog and gave them some solutions. And now they crave more.
This is when you head back out there into the Internet, off your blog, and share other people’s stuff and give even more. You read that correctly. If done correctly it can actually be fun and very rewarding.
Share Your Community’s Stuff
Yep, remember where your audience hangs out? Maybe Twitter? Facebook? Your blog?
Give them some kudos and share their stuff. Mention them in your blog. Tweet their posts. Write a nice summary of their latest article and post it on your Facebook page. There is nothing more thrilling than being featured by someone else! (Ok, winning the lottery may be more thrilling.) Not only will they remember you but will love you too. Isn’t that the beginning of a beautiful relationship?
Share Great Content, not Just Your Own
Find relevant, meaningful, helpful posts and articles which your audience would love and then share the heck out of them. Your Twitter feed should be 50% other people’s stuff and 50% yours. Give or take a few percentages. The point is to not make your feeds all about you.
Be sure you share only what is relevant to your niche. Your readers do not want to read about ducks when you write about coffee. Unless the ducks are making the coffee.
Give Stuff Away
Yes, you do already give away great content. You need to give more.
Write free material like helpful ebooks, give them away. Give discounts to your most loyal readers. Hold a contest and give away something that will help them solve a problem like a great book you read or a tool that has helped you. Give newsletter subscribers access to special exclusive content and deals.
People online seem to expect free from new merchants and/or bloggers. There is so much competition online that companies feel the need to give stuff away to get your attention.
I downloaded a game on my iPhone called “Buster Bash”. It is SF Giants catcher Buster Posey’s app and was released this summer. In order to get the app up and going they held a twitter contest with a specific hashtag. Ten Buster Bash shirts were to be given away, and I wanted one. I tweeted my heart out. And won a shirt.
The company behind this app knows they could create a buzz by doing this and reward its loyal players by giving away t-shirts. It’s a win for everyone.
The Online Business and Blog
Keeping a thriving business and/or blog online is no easy task. It is a time consuming. Any relationship you want to thrive takes time and effort.
Take the relationship you have with your audience slow at first. Learn all you can about them before you comment on forums or blogs. Lurk a little, but not a lot because people start getting suspicious of you and may bump you from their groups or not talk to you when you do speak up.
Just remember getting attention is not the same as a fulfilled, engaged audience. Attention lasts 5 minutes. Engagement lasts a life time.
Do what is best for you and your audience. There is never a one fit for all solutions. Did I just nullify everything I just said? Nah.
Follow some of what I just wrote, follow none. Start engaging now, not just attracting.
Resources I Have Found Helpful
Be Everywhere by Pat Flynn
Networking by Alan Chatfield
Don’t Listen to Anybody by SocialMouths
How do you engage in your audience?
Any more tips?
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