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6 Steps to a Loyal Blog Following

This guest post is by Shari Lopatin of www.sharilopatin.com.

I had a writer friend tell me the other day I have the best social network she’s ever seen.

“What?” I asked, shocked. After all, I only have about 380 Twitter followers (I follow 200-something). “You should check out these people instead,” I offered, with three other usernames. “They have way more followers than me.”

But she persisted. “They may have more followers, but your network is much more engaged.”

Engaged.

So many people think the more followers you have, whether on Facebook or Twitter or your blog, the better. But numbers aren’t what counts. Who cares if you have 20,000 followers, when no one pays attention to your posts?

Six tips to engage your networks

Whether you’re selling a product, a service, or even your writing, you want people to care.

The key is to build loyalty. My writer friend discovered the loyal nature of my network when I tweeted a question for her. She immediately began receiving tons of responses. What does that mean?

My followers are listening to me—and taking action.

Your social networks will eventually convert into (loyal) blog followers. I’ve had many blog subscribers discover me on Twitter. But just how do you get people to care? Well…

1. Reach out

Twitter is abuzz with tons of professionals looking to connect. Use Twitter’s “search” feature to type in keywords related to your business. For example, if you’re a writer, search “writing.” Begin following people tweeting about this topic, and see who follows you back. Then study their Twitter profiles.

What’s their follower/following ratio? Do they seem engaged with their network? If so, take it a step further. Visit their blog. Comment on their posts. Reply to their tweets, and maybe even fan them on Facebook. Then, direct message them on Twitter (or email them through their site) and invite them to guest post for your blog about their expertise. This will develop a trusting relationship with people who have the ability to influence their networks for your site.

2. Promote others

This can be done on Facebook, on Twitter, and even on your own blog. Let’s say you’re a lawyer, looking to build your expert status. Follow the steps in #1 to find other influential lawyers who offer great advice. Then, tweet a link to their site or blog post (i.e. “Great advice on handling angry bankruptcy clients from @joesmithlaw, www.joesmithlaw.com/bankruptcy”). Do the same on Facebook.

This does two things: first, it lets your followers know you’re not selfish, and you’re out to educate them (which builds trust). Second, people feel flattered you thought their work relevant enough to share, and they’ll most likely return the favor.

3. Respond

Everyone knows you should always answer questions posted to your Facebook page. But let’s take this a step further. Maybe you’re a media consultant. So use Twitter’s search feature to type in keywords like “blog.” From there, seek out general questions you can answer (i.e. “Anyone know how to connect my WordPress blog to Twitter?”). @Reply, and answer it! Maybe even follow the person.

If someone you follow poses a general question in your newsfeed, answer it, too. People want to be heard, and you can gain new (loyal) followers this way.

4. Ask questions

People love talking about their thoughts and opinions. For example, on my blog, I always ask a question at the end of my posts. For a recent topic, I wrote about, “Kindles: Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?” Rather than just finishing with my thoughts, I asked my readers, “What do you think? Are Kindles securing our relevancy as writers, or helping to kill our profession and demand?” That generated 24 comments. You can also pose questions on your Facebook page related to your business, and watch the responses pour in.

5. Cross-promote

This one is my favorite, and one of the most under-utilized, strategies. I recommend it all the time. When another expert guests for your blog, have them cross-promote to their networks.  Ask them to run a blog post driving traffic to your site the day their article runs. Have them promote it on Twitter, on Facebook, on Google+. And you do the same.

On average, I’ve seen this technique double the traffic to a website in one day. Plus, if you partner with someone influential, new visitors will be more likely to subscribe to your blog, follow you on another social network, and best of all … engage with you moving forward!

6. Be real

Don’t sound like a product or corporation. No one wants to interact with a brand (unless you’re Coca Cola or Nike). Sound like a real person who people can connect with. But beware! Don’t overshare—just offer enough to make yourself real to your followers (i.e. Relate to my opening story in this post).

I’ve found the golden rule of social media is this: the more you give, the more you get.

What do you think? Do you find highly engaged social networks equate to more loyal customers and blog followers? How do you develop relationships with your followings?

Shari Lopatin is a former daily newspaper reporter who now works in the corporate world as a professional writer, journalist, and media strategist. Find her on Twitter at @ShariLopatin, or read more of her marketing and writing tips on her blog, “Shari Lopatin: Rogue Writer.”

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Comments

  1. On Promoting others. I wonder why people feel insecure to mention others (with a link) on the blogs. They feel they’re helpng their competitors. Nay, not true. You’re helping yourself as you promote others.

    Thanks Shari for the 6 inevitable points.

    • Drewry says:

      personally speaking, I don’t mind promoting others. It gives me great pleasure to support someone else on the World Wide Web. With that in mind, if you would like to be featured or promoted on my site, please feel free to sign up, and start commenting on forum threads and blog posts, and I’ll gladly link back to you, and keep linking back to Darren too! :-)

  2. These steps are clear and simple, but it’s surprising how often we don’t follow through. A really helpful checklist.

    Thanks

  3. Melanie says:

    Sometimes, less is more. Thanks for the great ideas in this post!

  4. Mike says:

    These are some great pointers for those individuals seeking to increase the engagement of their twitter followers!

  5. be real..that is the key.
    a fake blogger is the most dangerous one. preaches wrong things forcefully

  6. Vivek says:

    Great post…i will surly follow this step and hope this will increase more social network responses..

  7. Deb Ryan says:

    Great info! I am impressed with all the wisdom that a newbie, such as I, can absorb like a sponge! thanks

  8. Good tips. Support from other bloggers, especially if they blog about similar subjects, are so important. I love reading other blogs and getting ideas from them.

    http://www.thegirlieblog.com

  9. Dee Dee says:

    A lot of people forget that blogging is like any other ‘friend’ building activity – it takes time and consistency and ‘presence’ and it sounds like you have just that with your readers. Engagement isn’t something you can buy – unless you’re Nike. :)

  10. Taline says:

    Great information…I thought I could avoid certain social media but in order to truly reach out I’m finding it necessary to change my opinion. Thanks for reminding me to get a twitter account! :)

  11. Great ideas! Thanks. I am just trying to figure out so of the social networking stuff and this helps a bunch.

  12. @mikefjean says:

    Real is on the rise. All these tips are great common sense tips. Be real to get real results

  13. Dave Rowley says:

    Some really great tips here, Shari. I especially liked the idea of building relationships with other bloggers and cross promoting guest posts.

  14. Drewry says:

    online success from blogging and web publishing entails working hand-in-hand with others for success in longevity, so everyone can equally get that:

    —> Long $ gUaP $ <—

    Together! :-)

  15. Bougie Girl says:

    Cross-promoting is very important. It has helped me to reach more readers than just taking the “Solitary Blogger as an Island” approach. Great article!

  16. I had a company try to get me to promote a product for them for free with nothing in return, oh and write guest posts for their site. They would toot their thousands of FB and Twitter followers. After further research, it was so obvious this company had purchased Facebook Fans in bulk. In other words, not true followers. Not followers gained by advertising either. Engagement of fans is way more important than quantity. I don’t trust numbers.

  17. Nina Badzin says:

    Excellent tips, Shari! I don’t do #4 as often as I should and it’s a great point.

    • Thanks Nina! So happy to see you on here. :-) Yes, I really recommend #4, as from a corporate end, it works wonders (especially on Facebook).

  18. Tom says:

    Thanks for the write up.

    It’s sometimes easy to forget the basics. This is a helpful reminder about trying to stick to quality by providing valuable content

  19. Faizan Elahi says:

    Quite accurate post with useful advice. Recently, I wrote a post about promoting a blog on Twitter and it contained some points similar to the ones mentioned in this article.

  20. Thank you for the excellent article, Shari.

    Even though I’ve been building sites since before blogging was even a buzzword (circa GeoCities, lol), I really never took much interest in the whole “blogging thing” until recently. Many of the same organic SEO strategies that I’ve been using for clients are still pertinent, it is quite helpful to have some input on some of the social media tools and the real-life aspects of blogs that are so important. Incidentally, @mikefjean, I couldn’t agree more – we’ve, thankfully, moved out of the “corporate talk” era of marketing.

  21. Philos Mudis says:

    Some people don’t like to add links to other blogs and when thy do link sometimes they just want that person to link to them

    I believe linking to relevant articles on other blogs regularly helps build ones blog.

    I guess bloggers should share more and link to quality and relevant articles/products/services to benefit people who visit their blogs. What may follow next is a great and popular blog.

    Thanks Shari for the 6 points.

  22. Josh Sarz says:

    I can’t keep up with Twitter. Everyone’s just posting so much. But I love your other points. I do them too.

    Thanks for the good read tonight.

  23. Jenny Shih says:

    Thanks for sharing your perspective, Shari. I have felt like Twitter was a race to get a large following, yet I was also confused by the folks who have 30k+ followers and are following that same number–how did they keep track of everyone! I didn’t see how to hold those two in the same hand.

    You provided the key: It’s not about numbers, it’s about engagement.

    The tips for engagement you provided are simple and straightforward. I’d like to second you comment about “the more you give, the more you get.” I find that to be true. It doesn’t necessarily come back around through the same medium (giving on twitter = receiving on twitter), but it does come back around some way (giving on twitter comes back as comments on your blog or … who knows what!).

  24. Many thanks for the tips! I took a peek at your twitter profile to see how you engage and it was extremely helpful in terms of how to approach the various social media outlets in the future. As a writer/journalist/photographer this is very helpful.

  25. Connie Wayne says:

    Fellow bloggers are my neighbors. I love it when they come for a visit, and especially when they linger for awhile to read an article or two. I try to treat them neighborly by visiting their sites and liking, commenting, or following their sites. If they follow or visit my site often, I add them to “My Neighbors” page on my website, and then I leave a comment for them to let them know that I have linked them to my site.

  26. Great article Shari. Can’t wait to start putting some of these suggestions into practice.

  27. With gazillion blogs published and the amount of information roaming around, the way to make it personal is by followers engagement. This makes the virtual world more like the real world. When we can present ourselves as a real human being, that’s where connection happens. Good articles. Good reminders. Thank you.

  28. rahul says:

    I gained some quality blog followers by using twitter search and crossed promotion also works for me.

  29. Really Important article with another 4 tips. Before this article I asked questions and responded those who ask questions from me. But It’s not well gone since I have little followers amount.

    That cross promotion is seems to be harvesting double because Guest writer also promote that article while blog owner also promote that article. So double harvesting. I never promoted others in my social media accounts unless they tell me to do that. But After reading this one I realized importance of that one too.

    These are really nice tricks. Keep thinking tips like these. Appreciate these! As what I learned in this article I tweeted this article for my followers!

    Thanks!
    Shyam

  30. I like cross-promoting to make it easier for my connections on various platforms to find me, and asking questions is a wonderful way to swap stories and get to know the people who’ve been waiting to be asked.

    One post of mine invited others to share three things about their business that made it theirs, and I credit it with a definite jump in readership and strengthened bond between my readers, followers, and people I follow as well.

    Of course, not all of of my crowd is very close, but I make it a point to reach out to everyone on my stream at least once–with a retweet, a reply, a hello, a DM check-in, or something to let them know I haven’t forgotten them.

    As I tweeted, I know why your followers are so engaged because I’m one of them–thanks for sharing how you keep it that way!

  31. sarah says:

    Great post.refreshing and practical tips.these techniques will accomPany me in 2012!thanks and keep up the great work!

  32. Great suggests for engaging persons that I need to implement on my blog.

  33. Sue Atkins says:

    I started inviting people I respected and followed on Twitter as my guest blogger on Saturdays if they complemented my area of parenting expertise and I have found it has added great depth and discissions to my own website and has opened up new audiences to my work around the world. My only advice is to do this gradually, and to make sure the people you invite to guest blog are sincere and genuine in their writing and that the standard of writing is of good quality otherwise you can damage your own reputation very quickly. It’s about sincerity and team fit.

    Sue Atkins
    Author of “Raising Happy Children for Dummies” and the Parenting Made Easy CDs and i-phone App

  34. Great post..thank you! I am continually trying to build my blog following and have realized cross promoting is an important step and defintely helps form relationships with other writers in your niche.

  35. Thanks for this information. I am new (3 months) to the blogging scene, and I am definitely looking for ways to expand my readership and outreach. I’ll be sure to enact these going forward.

  36. Be yourself is the number one thing I recommend.