So you have spent a ton of time learning the tools, setting up your blog, studying the art of social media engagement, building your business plan and the list goes on and on. Some things are working yet some aren't. You may have weeks where you see the results. You think your audience likes your content, they share it, tweet it, engage on your Facebook page and talk with you on Google+! Yet you have some days where your blog and social network profile pages feel more like a desert.
First things first, you are not alone! We all have those days. Engaging your audience and keeping them inspired is a full time job. Yes, it gets easier with time. However, the work simply seems to never be done.
You hear me and maybe some of your favorite thought leaders talk about relevance, engagement and connecting with an audience. You are starting to “get it”. You are even finding yourself talking the same language with your clients, co-workers or business stakeholders. However, there is still one thing that that is not “clickin'” and that is your audience on your blog and social platforms.
Before you throw in the towel and either give up completely or go back to your spam blastin' ways here are a few tips to get your blog a hoppin' with real activity.
17 Tips to Increase Blog Engagement & Nurture Relationships
1. Have a purpose. Every blog must have a purpose. Are you blogging for the sake of blogging because you have nothing better to do with your time? Or are you blogging to support a business objective, social good cause, educate a niche audience? There could be a million reasons. Only you can answer such.
2. Develop a plan with goals and objectives. Every good blog must have a good plan. Of course there is no written law that will stop you from starting a blog with no plan. However, if you want real results, real engagement I suggest you set clear and measurable goals and objectives.
3. Answer the “W” questions.
- Who are you targeting? Who do you want to visit your blog?
- What are you going to offer them?
- When are you going to offer it to them?
- Where are you going to engage with them?
- Why should they care?
4. Know your audience. The most important answers to all good blog questions come from your audience. Start and end with your audience as you write each post. Learn as much as you possibly can about your audience. What makes them tick? What do they like? What do they not like? What keeps them up at night? What do they wish they could do that they can't but you can? What makes them excited? What could make their business go zoom?
5. Get honest input from family and friends. Before you launch or re-launch a blog invite your warm market such as friends and family to provide honest feedback. Only ask them if you know they will not sugar coat it. Have thick skin and listen closely to their response. Provide them a short survey. Or even better, watch a few of them as they engage with your site. Schedule a mini usability test where you give them a list of tasks to accomplish on your site. Chances are you will be amazed how long it takes them to find something that you think should have only been one click away.
6. Schedule a blog warming party. Now that you have done your homework, set some clear goals and objectives, it's time for a little fun! Let's set a pre-launch date with a blog warming party. These are perfect if you are still tidying up some final details but have a good enough structure you feel comfortable having some fun friends and colleagues stop by for a while. Be sure to invite enough people that there is a fun vibe. Tweet out an invite and simply let people know you are spicing up the blog house a bit and invite them to take a sneak peek!
7. Be ready for the special guests. You never know who might show up for your blog warming party so be ready for the special guests. Have an opt-in form for folks to further engage with you and your brand. Add a contact and quote link to your front page or a top level menu item so those wanting more information can do so with one simple double click. Focus on building an inviting, informative and entertaining experience for everyone who decides to show up.
8. Make meaningful conversation a priority. Conversation should be welcome and inviting. Use a good comment system such as Disqus, LiveFyre, or the numerous others out there. Encourage open and honest communication. Not everyone has to agree with you or each other. You should welcome good healthy dialogue while at the same time not putting up with trolls or simply mean bullies who have no intention of playing nice.
9. Make it easy to share the goods. Just like a good family style meal, make it easy to share, retweet, Facebook like, Google +1 and simply share your content with their friends. Take the time to add the right social share buttons and widgets. Don't overwhelm them with too many buttons but make it easy for them to find what they need.
10. You personally should have a presence. We've all been to the parties where the host or hostess has over committed themselves. They have a plan to have a fun party where they can chill out and enjoy time with friends. However, they wind up running around like a chicken with their head cut off. Don't let this happen to you and your blog. Be there for your guests. Take the time to respond to blog comments. Acknowledge when they tweet you and comment on your blog or post a note on your Facebook page. You don't have to write a book. However, don't be a stranger at your own party!
11. Provide varying entertainment. Not every room is for everybody. Everyone learns differently. Create consistent content but deliver in varying ways such as video, podcasts, blog content, tips, deep thought and the list goes on. Invite other guest bloggers, link to other thought leaders etc. Don't be afraid to let them know who you learn from.
12. Share your best stuff! Don't be afraid to break out your best blog china. Share the tips and tricks that make you and your business go zoom. Don't be afraid of your supposed competitors who are watching and listening. If they are so great they won't be sitting reading your blog all day every day anyway. Spend your time focused on how you can genuinely help your audience meet their goals and objectives. Deliver your best goods with a goal of inspiring the audiences who want to engage with you and your brand.
13. Offer a safe place for the less talkative to chill. Although you and the majority of your blog warming party guests may be a bunch of tweeter twatters, remember you may have some guests who will get overwhelmed by all the noise! Give those less talkative birds a safe place to chill out. They may like the longer tips and tricks blog posts, the videos or even wind up listening to pod casts. Pay close attention to metrics such as Google Analytics and watch for trends of the folks who stick around longer on your site. If they are visiting more than 2-3 pages what pages are they visiting? How long are they staying?
14. Avoid the trickery. Whatever you do, do NOT trick your guests by using traditional marketing and spam tactics. Don't lead them on a wild goose chase just to get to a whitepaper. Don't grab their email address and then spam them via email or LinkedIn for the next two weeks. Respect them as much as they value you and your content to even show up at your blog warming party.
15. Don't forget the goody bag. Make their visit memorable. Give them a reason to come back. Leave them with a deep thought that will keep them up at night in a good way. Start a multi-part series blog post with tips they can implement over several weeks.
16. Let them know you appreciate them. Don't forget to say hello and thank you. Don't take your guests for granted. Respect them, engage with them and let them know you value the time they spent at your humble abode!
17. Keep the conversation going. Invite them back for more. It's what happens after the like, opt-in, circle and click that matters most. Engage with your guests after the party. Visit their blog. Invite them back to your place or to one of your social network platforms such as a Facebook business page for more conversation. Tweet about the conversation you had. Have fun and let them know you enjoyed connecting with them on a human level.