Example

I was looking through my timeline on Facebook yesterday when I noticed something interesting.

Within my timeline, there was a poll by a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook that read, “I am cleaning up my Facebook friends…let me know if you would like to stay?” Seems simple enough. This girl just wanted to clean up her Facebook account like many of us do from time to time. She saw the poll feature, thought it would be an efficient way to get the job done making sure she didn’t de-friend anyone she wasn’t supposed to…and she put up the poll.

However, she forgot the most powerful aspect of the new polling feature in Facebook…people that are not friends with you see if one of their friends answered the poll.

Facebook Polls - How To Use Them

Every time one of her 247 friends answered the poll, it showed up in their timeline to all of their friends who could also answer. Her one innocent poll went viral on Facebook to get over 3,242,283 votes, 136,650 followers of the poll and over 199,200 comments. I don’t think that is what she had in mind when she asked the simple question!

The Power Of Facebook Polls

Now…while this example provides a bit of humor, it does illustrate a very important point. The Facebook polling feature can be very powerful when growing your brand for your Facebook fan page.

Inviting user opinion and interaction is an incredible tool for building a following. Luckily, with the Facebook polling feature, you can get in front of the eyes of new, potential Facebook fans by asking your current followers to check a simple box to a simple question.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been testing out the polling feature within Facebook on the Bike198 Facebook fan page and I have noticed several things that will help you gain more followers and get more people to interact with your questions.

4 Facebook Poll Tips For Success
  1. Ask Polarizing Questions – You need to ask questions that people within your niche have a definite and passionate answer about. What are things that people argue about most in forums and to each other within your niche? Those are prime questions to ask on Facebook polls as your potential voters will be passionate about answering. If you ask bland, boring questions…expect terrible results.
  2. Invite Your Friends To Answer – Once you are finished making the poll within Facebook, you can invite your friends to answer the question. Only invite those friends that would actually care to answer (I don’t ask my friends that don’t ride bikes as an example). That will get the ball rolling and get you on their timeline for exposure to people that you might not have been in front of before. Just like with the girl’s example above…it gets the ball rolling.
  3. Respond To Comments Left On Your Poll – If you are having people comment on the poll, respond to the comments to show you are approachable and to start the dialog that turns into long time readers and followers. You want these people to like your fan page and visit your blog. Like most things in online community building, that process does not stop after you hit publish. Interact with these new people just as if they left a comment on your blog.
  4. Don’t Allow For User Generated Answers – I have seen polls go wrong when the voters are able to submit their own answers. What you end up with is a bunch of 1 vote answers that are pretty much the same and that discourages people from voting due to the massive amount of choices. Put up the available answers and lock it from there.

As long as you keep those key suggestions in mind, you can grow your fan base and bring more readers to your blog.

In my opinion, the Facebook poll feature is one of the most powerful tools available to fan page owners as we continue to try to grow that following. The viral nature built into the feature is the easiest way to get your brand in front of your fan base’s friends without being a spamming pain in the ass.

 

Example

This past weekend, I did something really stupid. At the end of BlowWorld, my wife and I stayed in NYC for a couple of days to take a long weekend, mini vacation. On Friday, I came down with something terrible. Cold sweats, high fever, aching body, coughing like crazy…it was all there. For the next 10 days, the symptoms just ran over me like a Mack truck.

In my infinite wisdom, I decided after a week of feeling sick (and not feeling any better) that it would be a great idea to go on a 52 mile road bike ride with my friends. What harm could it do right?! By the end of the ride, I thought I was dead. I could barely hold on to the handlebars, my voice was completely gone and my throat felt like I had swallowed razorblades. What a dumb move…

Ironically enough, like most things in my life…it created inspiration for a blog post on Bike198.com. I wrote an article basically telling on myself and explaining how impatience as cyclists can take us backwards instead of forwards.

After the article went live (you can read it here: Riding Is More Than Just Spinning Wheels), I ended up getting emails from readers and calls from friends in and out of the industry telling me how spot on the article was and thank you for publishing it. Here is an example of one of the emails I received.

Hello Robb.

Thanks for the honesty of your reviews and insights.

It is always nice to read the articles as they genuinely have the human touch.

Keep up the good work

Many thanks

Reader of Bike198 (name removed)
(Brisbane Australia)

When the emails started coming in…I was floored. It completely made my day and energized the thought process for more related articles.

When we write our blog posts, I think it is easy to sometimes forget that we are connecting on a 1:1 basis with our readers. While you might be writing to an audience of thousands, each reader digests your content one at a time. The reason they do this is to connect with you and your thoughts. While they might agree or disagree, that connection is what separates blogging from other traditional forms of content publishing.

It is important…and that connection is what ultimately will grow you blog.

Top 7 Ways To Connect With Your Readers

So how can we, as bloggers, capitalize on this and make a stronger connection with our readers? Let’s take a look at this list and see if you are doing these on your blog.

  1. Tell On Yourself – No one is perfect and showing that you are human by displaying your mistakes along with your successes is a great way to connect with people. I have also always said, sometimes it is more valuable knowing what not to do as much as it is what to do. There is much to be learned in mistakes.
  2. Teach Them Something – Whether it is through one on one coaching or an article on your blog, if you can make your readers better at something in your niche, you are going to start that connection process that can go on for years. I will often times, ask my readers what they want to see covered on the blog, then actually write it! Make their voices heard and deliver.
  3. Answer Emails/Tweets/Comments – That one on one connection with your readers is extremely easy with blogging. By answering tweets, emails and comments, you are able to quickly and efficiently talk one on one with your audience. These are very powerful tools that many bloggers say they don’t have time for. Make the time and you will see the results.
  4. Attend Conferences and Meetups – Face to face interaction is the best way to get in touch with people. Shake your readers hand, meet new potential readers and continue to make that personal interaction.
  5. Be More Than Just A News Source – Your blog needs to be a resource for something other than the news. Your readers can get that from anywhere. Editorials and thought based articles will give your readers insight on what goes on in your head. Make that connection and keep it rolling.
  6. Hold Webinars – You can be everywhere and attend every conference…and neither can your readers. Just like I said with #4, the strongest connection you can make with your readers is face to face. With the widespread¬†adoption¬†of video conferencing, you can now host a webinar on UStream and other services to put the name with a face. The huge benefit to going this route is that you can also do Q&A.
  7. Video Posts – Not all of your readers want to schedule the time it takes to attend a webinar, but they do want to see that interaction with you. By doing video posts, you are able to bring your personal touch, attitude and personality to your content that will connect with your readers far beyond basic text.

The context of blogging was based on that connection between writer and reader that was not possible through conventional content publishing methods. By remembering that core ideal while you also try to increase business, you will be able to grow to new heights and attract raving fans of your blog.

How do you connect with your readers?

 

 

Example

Online shopping is the fastest growing segment in retail shopping. More buyers are looking to the internet on a daily basis to pick up items they need by using the convenience of click and ship. However, there is one major problem most online buyers face when looking to capitalize on this convenience…the in store help and hands on experience. In previous shopping experiences, the consumer would see and use the product in the store while asking questions to an associate to aid in the purchasing decision. When you shop online…you get rid of that interaction…or do you?

Online shoppers are turning to blogs and websites for honest, online product reviews to help them make purchasing decisions. This is where you step in as the blogger and provide that personal experience they are missing through forgoing the in-store experience! Better yet…you let them know where they can purchase these items for the best price and receive a commission off of that sale. This is the new way of buying online and it equals massive blogging profits for your business.

There is a bonus at the end of this article…so keep on reading…

Where I Got My Reputation In Blogging

Most of you already know this…but I got my blogging rep by getting in free product to review for Bike198.com. In the first 9 months, I had already surpassed over $100k in product and that was just the beginning. Not only was I helping out riders in the industry by providing honest opinions on products they were looking to purchase, but I was also providing exposure for companies looking to get their product in front of potential customers. Through this…I was able to grow my blogging income to include a lot of affiliate revenue and bonus revenue through the facilitation of product in my industry for review purposes.

Talk about a cool way to live. The same products I used to pay thousands for a year…I was now getting for free and profiting from it! All I had to do was be honest!

BlogWorld Expo: Time To Share The Story

Next month (May 24-26), BlogWorld Expo comes to NYC. On May 26th at 11:15am, I will be delivering my presentation on The Role Bloggers Play In Retail Purchasing Decisions and How That Equals Blogging Profits. I am completely stoked about the opportunity and look forward to seeing you there if you are going to be at BlogWorld.

I will be sharing how I have generated over 6 figures of online income by positioning my blogs as that source for online buying research and how you can do it just like I did. I will also be presenting recent trends in online purchasing and showing you were I think things are headed for the future. We always have to be planning ahead right?!

Bonus: 50% Off!

To celebrate and get pumped up for next month, I want to offer you guys a 50% off coupon code that you can use on Ramped Blogging and Ramped Reviews. All you have to do is enter “BlogWorld” as the coupon code at checkout and you can watch the price cut in half! I truly believe that we learn from those that have been there before us to drastically decrease learning curve time periods. I want to help you get on the right foot to see success earlier and that is the main driving force behind delivering the presentation and why I have no secrets in how I run my business.

Click here and use coupon code “BlogWorld”: Ramped Blogging | Ramped Reviews

Example

I have this theory…if you are not moving forward…you are moving backwards. There is no standing still and just going through the motions with business building and blogging. You are either looking forward to the future and planning for those changes or you are letting others pass you by that are making the conscious decision to get that done.

On Bike198.com, I have been looking for a way to get even more reader interaction and do so by drastically increasing my site size with product heavy, SEO gold that contains affiliate links. I want to be able to provide the same quality I have with reviews into a user experience that allows riders to review their products as well. With that idea in mind, the database of products labeled “Rider Reviews” was born. Now…I just had to build it…

Building Out A Reader Review Section

Ironically enough, I tested about every single WordPress option I could find. Every single plugin seemed to be ok…but they lack a polished look or were too hard to get everything looking correctly. I started searching around for a stand alone php script to accomplish the same goal and just happened to fall upon Reviews For Joomla (not an affiliate). The layout, ease of use and basic design was exactly what I was looking for. Better yet…it installed over Joomla so I would have a very strong back-end content management system to aid with setup.

Rider Reviews at Bike198 Home

With this system, I can have the products loaded in and then my readers have an incredibly clean, easy to use layout to give ratings and reviews for products in the industry. There are even features to allow them to compare ratings and features which adds a ton of function into that portion of the site.

I installed Joomla 1.6 into a subfolder of Mountain.Bike198.com (this one will only have mountain bike products) and got to work…

Handling Of Affiliate Links

Now…a section of your blog like this is only really good if it is generating income. One of my biggest nightmares with this entire project was trying to figure out how I would actually handle the affiliate linking. The idea of searching for my specific affiliate link, getting it on the right product and then making sure it wasn’t broken 24/7 seemed like an incredibly daunting task just in itself.

Ironically, a friend of mine that owns MyGolfSpy.com recently came across VigLink and started testing on his forum. What VigLink basically does is takes your links to popular stores online (ex: Amazon) and automatically handles all affiliate revenue for you. Of course, they take their cut but it takes all of the management process out for you with a simple line of code. Now I was able to get the products loaded with a link to a store and not have to worry about whether or not I am getting credit for the sale. VigLink claims to get a higher percentage commissions on sales due to their larger audience, so the cut they take should drastically reduce the difference between using them and doing it on your own. The time management side was the real payoff for me though.

If you are only building out a section of your site like this that has 12 or so products (maybe even up to 50), managing it yourself might make sense. As of right now, I have 696 total mountain bike products and bikes listed, so you can see how that can get out of control quickly.

Getting The Products Loaded Into The System

A review system like this is worthless if you do not have an accurate representation of your industries products listed on the site. Let’s be honest, I do not have the time to load over 1,000 products into a website. That is a lot of busy work that I can’t even fathom doing and it is also the main reason this idea I have had for over a year is just now coming to fruition. To get some help, I enlisted the help of Chris Ducker over at Virtual Staff Finder to help me out in finding a virtual assistant. After interviewing 3 candidates, I found the perfect one for me.

Rider Reviews Product List

After sending over one training video, I started sending Lauren (my new VA) the list of products each day and the site started expanding rapidly. My industry is a little unique as we have a ton of parts and related gear.

Now…I don’t want you to look at my site and think this isn’t possible on your site just because of the magnitude of products. In other industries…you might not have this much of an extreme workload where you need to hire someone on to help. In my case, I did and it is working out perfectly.

How do you get people to actually use it?!

As you can see by visiting Rider Reviews, there are a couple of reviews already started on the site by my readers. However, like with any social interaction environment, there is going to have to be some incentive to get the ball rolling. I already have several contests lined up for my readers that are based around getting the review section populated and useful for new visitors. Once those go live, it should be great to see the new reviews come in on a platform that allows my readers to have a voice in the industry and basically runs on its own while also generating income.

Rider Reviews

As you can imagine, the SEO benefit of this section has already returned great results and it is just getting started. I am going to check back in on this project here to let you guys know how is it progressing. There are still more products to load and some design work to get completed before I start running the contests, but…from what I am already seeing, it is going to be my my largest asset on Bike198.

Check out: Rider Reviews at Bike198 | VigLink | Reviews For Joomla