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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Blogging and Community: Worth Embracing!

Blogging and Community: Worth Embracing!
Did you know that you are far more likely to get results from your blogging efforts if you embrace community and ditch the arms-length-business attitude? By that I mean reaching out, being social and comfortable interacting as a human being on your blog. It's true! And it doesn't mean that you aren't professional.

I come across many blogs - especially as I explore the blogosphere in search of new ones to include in The Social Flooring Index and other Social Ranking Indices. Sadly, I notice many that haven't figured out the importance of community to blogging.

These are blogs that are self-focused, don't engage much outside their own world or website, certainly don't link out to anything of substance, and seem as painful to maintain as they are to read. In the visualization above from eCairn Conversation, these are the blogs along the periphery resembling wall flowers at a dance.

Oftentimes, it's not the blogger's fault. He or she just doesn't know any better. It's so easy to get started using social media tools and many organizations will start blogging without spending time beforehand planning and strategizing to figure out how to integrate these new communication programs into their overall business and marketing plans.

Many may not even realize that at the heart of these 'social' tools is the opportunity and expectation to be social and become part of a customer community.

They may not have thought through that becoming part of a community takes commitment, planning and awareness of the world beyond their companies' walls and websites.

Not that any of this is impossible. It's just that it takes getting used to because traditionally businesses don't think about interacting, acknowledging, respecting and learning from their customers. They haven't spent a lot of time communicating in terms relevant to their audience and focusing on their pain points, hopes and desires. They've just been too busy focusing on themselves and how wonderful they are.

Getting back to blogging and community - for those businesses able to make this mental transition and willing to embrace customers and community, it's a matter of a few changes that bring new life to blog and blogger. Here are a few that come to mind...

1. Banishing the passive voice and using first person.
2. Linking to other interesting articles or blogposts you come across - even if it means that readers might leave your site.
3. Identifying the blog author(s) with photos and 'about us' information. Don't forget to include contact information.
4. Adding to your blog's sidebar, not only #3, but also links to other blogs you read [aka a blogroll].
5. Proactively and programmatically reaching out to others in the blogosphere in your blogposts and via comments.

What else comes to mind? In this post, How Do I Evaluate a Blog?, I discuss what I look for in a noteworthy blog.

The result of these changes is becoming part of a community that is as passionate as you are about your area of focus. Not only can you retire from the wallflower gig, but you'll also find that you absorb all kinds of new ideas that you can extend to your readers and customers, giving them reason to come back to your blog.

What do you think?

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