Hint: It’s NOT Just Blog Comments!
Despite the image of a lone writer sequestered behind his computer, bloggers write because they want to engage. Blogs provide a publishing platform that allows a blogger to share his perspective with his target audience, colleagues and the public in general. Engagement is important because it’s proof that others have read and reacted to the blogger’s work.
21 Ways to engage with readers
Ask most bloggers how they want to engage with their audience and many will answer through comments. But there’s a much broader array of options that can help a blogger achieve specific blog goals. Here are twenty-one ways of engagement that a blogger can employ to connect with readers.
- Count your readers. While many bloggers refer to readers who don’t comment as lurkers, it’s still true that these readers are actively consuming blog content and, just by visiting the blog and spending time there, contribute to core blog metrics. Make sure your blog tracks all visitors.
- Connect with readers’ blogs using pingbacks and trackbacks. A reader may agree or disagree with your post and express that opinion on their own blog. Make sure that you capture their pingback and add it to your comments. This interaction is a win-win since it expands the readership for both posts.
- Invite others to write guest posts. If another blogger or a frequent commenter who provides good content, invite him to write a guest post. This provides additional content while exposing your readers to another perspective.
- Accept and encourage comments. Let your audience know that you’re interested in what they think and feel. Don’t just assume they’ll comment. Ask for their comments. Let them know that their input is valued by responding to them.
- Provide likes, tweets and other social sharing mechanisms to enable readers to distribute your posts to their social graphs. Do your readers a service by making it easy for them to share your insights and expertise.
- Add social bookmarking. This helps readers keep track of your posts for future reference and to share your content with their social media contacts. This helps expand your potential reach.
- Expand your blog’s reach with a Facebook page. Engage with a broader audience of like-minded individuals.
- Invite your readers to follow you on Twitter. Readers who like your point of view may be interested in the additional sources of content you share. If you follow your readers back, you can direct message them when special occasions merit.
- Allow readers to subscribe for emailings. Subscribers get the content distributed to their email inboxes. You should allow readers to choose how, when and where, they want to receive content. In exchange, you get their permission to push content directly to them.
- Let readers feed on your RSS. Feeds are the means by which your content is syndicated across many different platforms and channels. Feeds are especially important for your mobile audience.
- Email a personal message. When a reader has a specific question or other inquiry do you leave them hanging without a means of communication? Provide an ability for them to contact you directly by email on your About or Contact pages.
- Ask other bloggers to carry your content. Use your RSS feed or create a guest post for them . This exposes your content to the other blogger’s audience. Of course, you should be willing to do the same for them.
- Ask readers to support your advertisers and/or affiliates. If you’re not using advertising networks, show that you sincerely believe in your advertisers and/or affiliates products and messages. Write about them and engage your readers with comments.
- Make the purchase special. This applies to bloggers who offer online information products and/or support another type of business using their blog. Your unique approach signals your desire to directly engage with your prospective customer.
- Solicit donations. For some blogs, it’s entirely appropriate to have a tip jar just like the local coffee emporium. For readers who find your content useful, it’s like leaving a positive comment or clicking a like button.
- Promote a good cause. By asking readers to support a cause related to your blog. This is another spin on asking for a donation; only better because it’s for someone else.
- Get readers’ point of view. Ask readers to share how they feel about specific issues by providing questionnaires and surveys.
- Challenge your readers with a game or quiz. Many readers visit a blog to just to confirm their own opinion on a subject. Engage them with a quiz that teaches them something that they don’t know.
- Participate in Twitter chats. It’s a great opportunity to show your expertise, help other learn about your interests, and draw blog traffic and Twitter followers from a wider audience.
- Join or start a Meetup group. Get out from behind your computer and meet your readers in real life. This is particularly useful for companies or businesses that socialize. For example, Automatic (aka WordPress) sponsors Word Camps in many cities around the World.
- Meet at conferences and other live events. Share your attendance at major conferences and events with your readers. Use the opportunity to get out and network. Meeting people in real life changes your relationship.
Regardless of how you choose to engage with your readers, it’s an important element of blogging since it validates the your decision to create and share your content and assess how it is appreciated in the marketplace.
How many of these opportunities to engage with your readers do make use of? Do you give them guidance and calls-to-action to ensure that they do?
Here are related articles on blogging that you may find useful:
- Help no one reads my blog!
- Do business blogs chase the wrong metrics?
- 24 Ways to Promote Your Blog With No Budget, No Time & No Resources
- 29 Reasons You Aren’t Getting Blog Traffic
Photo credit: Changing World Photography via Flickr