Today Community Strategist Connie Bensen shares some tips on taking your blog to a community.
Every blogger wants more readers. I’ve always appreciated how Problogger regularly features ideas for improving your blog & writing techniques. As people happen upon your blog they may decide to join your community of readers. But what if you could take your blog to a community?
Choose the new Community
Let’s step back & take a few minutes & think about your niche(s) & focus area. At this point there are two directions. Do you want to bring in more readers in your subject area? Or do you want to reach out to a related niche? The latter will require some creative thinking and be a bigger challenge, but don’t be afraid to go beyond the obvious! Decide on your keywords & spend some time with Google & search engines & find out where your new communities are at. Do this quarterly or so because new sites are always springing up.
When I was a librarian we called it outreach. I would go out & speak to groups & my challenge was highlight resources of interest to that group (whether it was a community service group or quilting club).
Two ways to Extend Yourself
There are a number of ways to do this online. Some are automated & others will require action on your part. Building community takes a bit of effort (although you’ve maybe noticed this just in blogging). But this will be fun. (It has to be otherwise it won’t work!)
Automate your Outreach
Where can you put rss feeds for your blog so that it automatically streams at other places?
- Social networking sites such as Facebook (use notes), LinkedIn
- Aggregators such as Friendfeed, Tumblr, etc
- Forums when it’s appropriate – it’s a bit hard to tell but ask the admin
- Related Communities – ex: scroll down on the left to see an example of my blog streaming
- Sites that aggregate RSS feeds:
- You feed your rss in & editors choose which to publish -ex: 1067 views on my post on Twitter that Social Media Today picked up
- Make it easy for your readers to ‘forward to a friend’ on your blog
- Join social voting sites such as StumbleUpon, Digg, Sphinn, Mixx, etc
- Be generous in helping your friends. They will help back. Most have groups by topic areas.
- Comment on other’s blog posts & add links to your relevant blog posts & free resources
- Join forums and get involved in the conversations (make sure that linking is allowed)
- If you’re shy about this, I have some suggestions.
- tip – use a tool like Trailfire to keep track of the forums, social bookmarking sites work also
- Write for a group blog – there’s no pay on this but it’s a different niche than my blog & there’s a community with it that many new people I’ve never met (yet!)
- Join group projects – this book project that I’m participating in has 275 authors (meaning lots of back links as we all blog about it! LiveWriter allowed me to copy/paste them as a whole) – I see traffic coming from many new readers as they browse the list posted at the 275 authors’ blogs
- Can’t find a project like this? Why not start one then?
- Memes are powerful & you never know how far ranging they’ll be – this one went on & on (and people started making lists of the people who had replied & evaluating that = more links!)
- participate when your friends call you out
- If you see something meme-like, just do it! Ex: Top 10 Social Media Tools/Platforms
- Start one – they’re fun! Usually it’s a list
- Invite them to guest write for you.
- Offer to do guest posts for them.
Set up google alerts & Tweetscan for your new keywords. For example I have an ongoing search for ‘community manager’. My goal is to connect with Community Managers on Twitter & keep up to date on the latest news. It makes growing my connections effortless.
Send out a regular newsletter with links to your blog. Less than 10% use blog readers, so they may prefer getting a compilation of your links & news in their inbox on a regular basis. (Make sure that people opt-in for the newsletter & can unsubscribe).
Engage with the new Community
The next steps require more effort but once you get started you’ll enjoy getting off your blog. The purpose is to meet new people and introduce them to you and in turn your blog. It’s not like flipping a switch & it will take some time. Please don’t go out & spam blogs or forums with links as that won’t be appreciated! You really need to be sincere. And remember this is fun. Do some Googling or set up Google alerts for keywords describing the new community that you’d like to embrace.
Join Communities & Participate
Provide something free that represents your niche (whitepaper, ebook, podcast, etc) & link others to it
Don’t forget about groups at social networking sites such as Facebook & LinkedIn
Include links to the new community in your blog posts
As you spend time in the new community you’ll start to identify the influencers
Signs that you’re making progress
Watch where your traffic is coming from & what searches are hitting your blog/site
*use Feedburner or Google Analytics
An increased network – if you’re doing the second part then it will grow
If you found this intriguing then you will enjoy my list of Resources on community building.
I’m sure that you have ideas that I haven’t thought of… What are your suggestions for taking your blog to a community? What has worked for you?