The Goal Of A Blog Post Is Conversation

by Robb Sutton

We who blog are constantly writing new content to publish to the masses. It takes a lot of work and energy to produce a great article and one of our greatest frustrations is the short life cycle of a post.

You spend time doing research, brainstorming, link collecting, drafting, writing, and promoting an article only to watch the crowd move on to other great content tomorrow. That’s the nature of the internet.

One way to remove this frustration of the fast-flowing nature of content is to focus more on the conversation generated by a post after it’s published. And I’m not simply talking about getting people to comment on the article – that’s only the beginning.

One of my own big beliefs about marketing is that “news spreads faster through a crowd than to a crowd.” In other words, we’ve managed to tune out mass media messages and advertising, but we still place great trust in the suggestions of our friends.

Applying this to a blog post means that the conversation surrounding your content needs to move away from the post itself.

Getting people to notice your content enough to comment on it is a great first step and probably the indicator of whether it’s a good conversation piece to begin with, but the real gold is when it moves from one Twitter user to another or across a network of Facebook friends, or rises to the front page of Digg. In other words, the goal is to see people talking about your content even if you and your site are not directly involved in the conversation.

If you get them talking about an article, they may just begin talking about you, the author. And then they’ll talk about your blog, your brand, your product, etc. So the conversation grows.

The negative side of marketing your content with conversation is that you can’t control it. In fact, if you try to force conversations to happen, you’ll alienate your audience. What you can do is stimulate conversation.

Let me leave you with some brief tips on how to persuasively encourage conversation surrounding your best ideas:

  • Go beyond the basics. Which is more likely to go viral – “how to have a great blog” (which has been done a million times) or “three brand new ideas for bringing in more traffic.”
  • Be controversial. Just don’t be stupid. Don’t alienate people, engage them.
  • Be thought-provoking. Most people won’t read your article, they’ll skim it, unless you force them to think about something. Surprise them.
  • Ask a question. What do you think? What’s your take on this? What’s your best idea about this subject?
  • Promote your post creatively. Instead of “new blog post:” how about “Hey, any opinions on this?”
  • Give something valuable – something people will want to bookmark, share, and reference.

The goal isn’t to get someone to read what you’ve written – it’s to get them to read it, and then share it. That’s why we call it the “web.” Now, what do you have to say about this post?

Brandon Cox is a Pastor, Web Designer, and Blogger. He’s Editor of Fuel Your Blogging and We Blog Better. You can also catch him on Twitter or Facebook.

16 comments

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16 comments

Charlie January 18, 2010 - 8:41 am

sweet post. wild that this was written by a pastor / blogger. still, great info.

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Brandon Cox January 18, 2010 - 11:20 am

Thanks Charlie!

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Chad @ Tech201 January 18, 2010 - 10:57 am

Timely post. I recently wrote a proposed guest post for a small niche blog and it was denied. Having been a follower of the site for a long time, and also knowing the audience who reads, I created a post that was specifically aimed at generating comments and conversation among the readers.

The site owner did not want to publish the post since one of my main points had already been covered by another post long ago. Nothing controversial, just “yeah, I already said that part a year ago”

I’m not complaining, I just thought it was interesting that a site owner in a very small niche did not have interest in generating conversation with their readers.

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Brandon Cox January 18, 2010 - 11:19 am

I think the site owner missed a key ingredient and that is that repetition can be a powerful thing if it isn’t overdone.

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Robb Sutton January 18, 2010 - 4:43 pm

Chad…that is odd…I’d have to agree with Brandon on this one. If someone submitted a unique article on conversation this week…I’d probably run it next week. It is all about unique voices and angles…

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Srinivas Rao January 18, 2010 - 11:55 am

Brandon,

Great ideas here. In a recent conversation I had with an up and coming blogger about how to build community, he echoed a great deal of what you said. Much of it was about getting people involved in the cause.

Cheers,
Srinivas

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Robb Sutton January 18, 2010 - 4:42 pm

Conversation is one of the best parts about blogging. Hell…conversation set up this guest post!

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Brandon Cox January 20, 2010 - 6:00 am

It is amazing what happens when people start talking…

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Kwame January 18, 2010 - 4:33 pm

Thanks for sharing this Robb. Very helpful article piece.

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lorrie January 18, 2010 - 6:58 pm

thanks for the advice I’ll try using it toward my blog, when i go self hosted i want to be able to give my opinion on things and tell about my life

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Brandon Cox January 20, 2010 - 6:01 am

No problem, Lorrie, glad to help!

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Ed Ruff January 19, 2010 - 8:50 am

Very thought provoking. Good fodder for educating clients on the benefits of marketing in a social arena. Thanks for the follow on Twitter. Looking forward to reading all your posts. May just have to pick up a copy of Ramped Blogging, too!

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Recommended Links for January 24th | Alex Gamela - Digital Media & Journalism January 24, 2010 - 1:45 pm

[…] Alexandre Gamela shared The Goal Of A Blog Post Is Conversation | Robb Sutton dot com. […]

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Jens P. Berget February 9, 2010 - 12:33 am

I’ve been asking questions and trying to provide value, but I have failed to manage to start conversations. I get a few comments, and a few tweets. But that’s all.

I’ve never been controversial or thought-provoking, that might be it? I find it hard to engage people when it comes to them being part of a conversation. On the other hand, I haven’t really focused enough on the conversation part of blogging.

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Words on a page » Blog Archive » A few links for the end of the week - A blog about writing, in its various forms March 12, 2010 - 6:32 am

[…] What’s the goal of a blog post? Conversation […]

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Mike Pablate January 12, 2011 - 3:05 pm

Thanks for the great post.

I too believe that “Go beyond the basics” is really very important if you are doing blogging.

As a newbie I learned some thing great which I have to apply it in my blogging and I have to test it also.

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