Every blog…regardless of size and popularity…has to realize that every reader counts. The easiest way to show that you are aware of this importance to your blog audience is to engage your readers on a daily basis. The more interactivity you bring to your blog, the more your readers will comment, email and submit guest posts because, in the end, people read blogs to be a part of something.
Why do you think magazines have entire sections to reader letters? This engagement is crucial to continuing growth and development of any publication…print or online. From day one, your readers need to be the most important asset of your blog and by engaging with your readers…you will gain insight on where your blog has been and where it needs to go in the future.
Maverick is Re-Engaging Sir!
As I drafted this post, I had Top Gun engagement quotes ringing through my head. The ironic thing is that this underlying theme of working as a team to defeat the enemy is at the core of blogging. Working as a team (you and your readers) is what grows you blog to the levels that you were dreaming of when you clicked that infamous “add new” button for the first time. So how can we work as a team and engage our readers?
- Reply To Comments – Let’s start of with the simplest form of blog engagement first. Readers comment on your articles because they genuinely want to engage with you and your audience (minus the ones that really just want traffic for their own blog). By responding to blog comments where you see fit, you are showing that you are actually listening to what your readers have to say. This, in turn, will send more readers to your blog as the word of mouth form of social spreading begins to take place. Your regular commenters are one of your greatest blog assets and you need to treat them that way. Not only are they taking time out of their day to read your article and provide a response or opinion, but they are adding unique content to your blog.
- Reply To Emails – Along the same lines as replying to comments, replying to emails is another way to personally interact with your blog readers. Emails are much more personal as it is done behind the closed doors of your blog, but they also take more time out of your busy schedule. When you reply to emails, make sure to read your readers email several times to make sure you are responding to exactly what they are asking. I have actually formed several “email friendships” over my blogging career. Through these email strings, we keep each other in touch with what is going on in our lives at the time. These regular readers are also be an incredible asset. By giving these readers first looks at ideas and designs, you are able to get feedback on your blog from several sets of eyes. Honest outside opinions are always a good thing, especially when it comes from someone who wants to see the site grow. All of the viral, word of mouth spreading applies to these readers as well.
- Ask For Feedback – Like it or not, you are not going to hear from 90% of your readers…ever. Most people like to soak up content and stay behind the curtain. However, you can ask for anonymous feedback through the use of polls that will engage your readers without them having to step outside of their comfort zone in a way that does not take up any more time than reading an article. Asking specific questions through the use of polls is another outlet to show that you are taking the feedback of your regular readers to heart. Poll voters are generally not generated by search engine hits, so the feedback you receive should reflect the rss, newsletter and bookmarking crowd.
Blogs are a unique animal in the fact that they engage the readers, almost instantly, more than any other media outlet. Knowing this…and capitalizing on it…will bring you growth numbers that you never though possible. Next time you visit your own blog…ask yourself…how can I engage my readers today. If you have 10,000 unique visitors a day or just 10, each visitor is still equally important in bringing your blog to that next level.