Monday, December 6, 2010
Online Persona Workshop Week Ten: Friends and Followers
Because we all start from different places and come from different stages of our career, I’ve tried to bring a variety of guest bloggers on to talk about how they built their community of followers and friends. I have intentionally avoided including anyone who has thousands and thousands of followers because here at Shrinking Violet, it’s all about the baby steps.
Today we have some more tips and suggestions from Lisa Schroeder, Sherrie Peterson, and Becky Levine. As you read today’s tips, you’ll notice some repetition of suggestions and themes. This is not an accident; there really are a few key things that you simply have to do in order to build a following, no matter what stage of the game you’re in.
1) Take a genuine interest in other people and connect with them as much as possible from a human perspective, not just an author perspective. Comment on blogs when you read something you find interesting, even if it's just to say thanks.
2) The best blogs are inspirational, educational or funny, or a combination of the three. They give something back to the blogging community. Be intentional about your blog while being true to who you are.
excellent post on why you shouldn’t give up.)
When I first started blogging I found a Comment Contest hosted by Mother Reader and Lee Wind. The idea was to visit blogs of the people participating and leave a comment in the spirit of driving more traffic to little-known blogs. I signed up and visited at least three different blogs every week day for a month. I commented on posts that interested me and quite often, the people I visited would visit my blog, like what they saw, and become followers. You don't have to be part of a contest to comment on blogs. Just be sure that your comment is sincere. Instead of saying things like, "Great post!" let the author know what specifically you liked about it. Meaningful comments build relationships between bloggers.
Make sure you have information on your blog that people want to read. Think about the blogs you follow. Do you go there for writing tips? Interviews? Book reviews?For the author's sense of humor? Find your own niche and then add your personal flair. Blog readers tend to gravitate to blogs that infuse personality with useful information. Nobody wants to hear every detail of your personal life, but if they get a sense of YOU, then they'll have more of a personal investment in your site.
Pick a schedule and stick to it. I've never posted a schedule on my site, but if you look at my Google stats, you'll see that most of my hits come on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. People know that those are the days I have new posts up and they come looking for them on a regular basis. If you can only post once or twice a week, that's okay. You don't need to make excuses for your busy life, just make sure that you consistently provide great content for people who come to visit.
Cooperating with other bloggers for special events like the Comment Contest I spoke of earlier will drive traffic to your blog. Whether you decide to sponsor a contest with a few blogging buddies or sign up for Agent Appreciation Day or another type of blogfest, working with other bloggers raises the profile of everyone involved.
-Take a few seconds to leave a comment on an update or three that you agree with, that made you laugh, that hit a chord. People will notice you're there, be happy for the comment, and will come back to read your updates and get to know you better.
-Go ahead and take a tiny risk every now and then. Put something out there that's funny or friendly or just goofy, and don't worry about whether everybody will agree with you. We're usually much harsher in judging ourselves (negatively) than anyone else will be.
-If you're in doubt as to whether you "should" post a particular update, or make a specific comment, think about whether you'd feel good about saying the same thing out loud, in public, face-to-actual-face with this other person. People can get their feelings hurt, or become angry, just as easily in a virtual world as in a "real" one. And in social networking, there is a much bigger crowd watching and listening.
And just in case that isn't enough terrific advice, I've got some links!
A recent #YALITCHAT on Twitter that discussed social media.
And Jane Friedman always has fascinating things to say about being online. I don't always agree with her (although often I do) but I always love to hear what she has to say. Here's a link to some of her posts on building an audience. Her suggestions can be a little overwhelming for an introvert, so only pay attention to those that resonate with you. (Always a good guiding principle.)