Blogging isn’t just about perching on a virtual soapbox and talking about whatever subject you wish. The most successful blogs are built on a key, yet usually overlooked, ingredient: the blogger-audience relationship. Without an audience, your blog will die out, the same way an aging rock star loses his shine when he loses his fans.
Achieving rapport with your readers helps you bond with them. To do this, you have to take steps to go beyond the level of online acquaintances.
When you establish a relationship with your audience, you are in fact establishing trust. Trust as a friend, an authority, or as a business partner. You build credibility, which, if nurtured properly, transforms into loyalty on your audience’s part. It also helps generate awareness for your blog and build your brand.
There are several ways by which you can start building connections with your readers. I sat with The Website Group Team to find out following methodology:
1. Responding to reader comments
This goes beyond answering questions with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Instead, treat legitimate comments as you would a real-life conversation: with clarity, courtesy, and sincerity. Contrary to what some may say, plenty of people can detect authenticity in the way you respond to them.
2. Visiting your commenters’ sites
Provided that they aren’t spam, it’s only fair that you visit your commenters’ websites and leave a brief but sincere comment. It’s the online equivalent of making a courtesy call or sending a thank-you note to someone who has done you a favor, and it demonstrates that you possess the willingness and ability to reach out to people.
3. Hosting blog events
You can also hold a contest on your blog such as a promotional event where you’ll give away 30 of your products to the first 30 readers to comment or send you an email. Or if you have the resources, you can organize a real-life charity event in your area where you can meet and greet your readers. These are huge opportunities to strike up conversations with your audience, and get to know them better.
4. Creating groups
If your blog discusses a number of different topics, you can create smaller subgroups in which your readers can discuss their specific interests with you. Or you can set up a forum in your blog, where you can engage your readers in organic discussions in and out of your blog’s range of topics.
5. Connecting with your commenters and members through social media
If your blog already has followers in your social media accounts, make time to interact with them. You don’t always have to talk shop, though — friendly, off-topic exchanges can make a much bigger impact on your followers, especially since you’re talking to them outside of your website. As always, keep it real and respectful.
Your approach to establishing a great connection with your readers will depend on what kind of relationship you wish to build with them. The important thing here is to treat your interaction the same way you wish your favorite bloggers would want to treat you.
What’s your favorite way of connecting with your readers? Which of your attempts at establishing rapport have been successful, and why do you think they worked? Or if it doesn’t make you cringe to do so, you can also share your not-so-successful experiences with your audience, and how you handled them.
Image Credit: Food and Dining As Anchor Panel, http://rebusinessonline.com/