Building Your Online Community

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There are a number of ways to drive traffic to a blog, and we’ll discuss those each week on Marketing Monday. But before we work on attracting a large readership, we need to make our blog “sticky.” True, if you promote it, they will come — but the big question is: Will they stay? Will they become subscribers, regular readers, referrers? In other words, is your blog remarkable? (Will others make remarks about it to their friends?)

Aside from all the Ninja-esque SEO tips, dazzling designs, and market guru gushing, it all comes down to benefiting the readers — a.k.a. Creating Compelling Content.

How do we create compelling content?

People learn in a variety of ways. We all use both sides of our brains, but some favor right-brained information processing. They love stories, imagery, and personalization. Others are left-brainers. These are your “Just the facts, ma’am,” folks. One commonly overlooked key to community-building is to speak to both types of learners.

Don’t linger too long in your intro anecdote before getting to the meat of the post or you’ll lose the logical thinkers. Don’t overwhelm dreamers with details or they’ll never come back. The key is balance. Cater to both groups by mashing together the following elements, and every reader will feel welcome. I call these the “fab-four characteristics of compelling content.”

Relevant

People are joiners. They want to belong. But, they want to belong where they feel comfortable. Where they feel accepted. Where they feel needed. The key to making posts relevant to your audience is to know them — who they are, what they need, and how to relate to them.

I read a lot of geekified stuff. I understand some of it, and what I don’t, I research about until I do understand, if it’s something I need to know. But I’m not a super-geek person. I’m fairly normal. I’m a mom. I own a dog. I drive a foreign-made car. And I know my readers (*waving to you*) are fairly normal, too. So I do my best to not just inform you of things you need to know to be successful bloggers, but hopefully to make it relevant to you, to where you are, to your level of geekiness. (Even the Techie Tuesday and SEO Saturday posts are geared to regular people who just happen to want to blog.)

Impactful

Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thought about it long after you finished? How about a blog post? Have you ever read a post and tweeted, emailed, or posted the link on your Facebook page because you were so moved or impressed or amazed at what you’d read that you just had to share it with your friends? Think about what it was that got you enough to keep thinking about the post. Was it a story? A cool tip? A product review? Re-read posts like that and look for subtle techniques the blogger used to enthrall you and her other readers. Make notes and adapt those to your posts.

Detailed

Along with the pizazz, put some specificity into your posts. Step-by-step instructions when applicable. Exact numbers. If the study says 48.7 percent, don’t say “nearly half.” Concrete references will speak to your analytical readers, who thrive on preciseness. Just don’t overdo it our you’ll lose the rest of your crowd. And detail-oriented learners enjoy stories, too, if they make a valid point that can be processed and understood. Just don’t babble (like I tend to do!).

Actionable

Here’s where many bloggers fall short. We’re almost afraid to ask for what we want. If you’re blogging a book review — tell readers to read the book (without demanding, of course). If you’re promoting a product, invite them to check it out. (Remember the “Try it, you’ll like it” commercials?) Never assume the reader knows exactly what you want them to do. “Ask and you shall receive” has more than just a spiritual application — it applies to just about every aspect of our lives.

Okay — here’s what I want.

Using either the comment area or the forum (which needs some serious love, by the way), share a link to a blog post that you found relevant, impactful, detailed, and actionable. Tell us your reaction. Did you leave a comment? Join the forum? (Hint) Did you subscribe to the blog? Did you tell your friends? Did you buy something because of the post?

Now, go over the draft for your next post. Which, if any, of the above elements is missing? How can you work it in?

Until next time — happy blogging!

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