What is the point of blogging? Blogging has become immensely popular in recent years, but what is it supposed to accomplish, and does it really work?
Do you spend hours every week crafting and posting the perfect blog post only to see it sit on your site with no comments, and apparently ignored by your site visitors? You might get a few people reading it, but your post never generates the engagement with your audience that you were seeking.
If that is the way you approach blogging, you may well be doing it wrong. Take a look at the type of blog posts you are writing, and work out why you are not successfully engaging with your audience. Blogging is a part of the social media world, and social media is ‘social’. It’s supposed to be a two-way conversation between the blogger and the audience.
Think about the conversations you have on social media. Which posts are you most likely to engage with? In general, posts that ask questions, or approach a topic from an unusual angle will get most response. Posts that ask for the readers opinion or actively invite a response will generate a higher number of replies than those which simply provide information, or tell readers about products or services.
A blog post should help to build a long-lasting connection between the blogger and the reader. To put it simply blogs should start conversations, and if you are not generating comments and interest from your blog posts you are doing something wrong, and it is time to evaluate what you are doing, and start engaging with your audience.
A good blog post must act as the starting point of a journey. From this post the conversation may branch out in numerous directions, but always with the purpose of engaging the blog readers, and promoting the blog, or company that manages the blog.
What makes a good blog post?
To make an impact a blog needs to have a clear focus. A post which is too vague, or which doesn’t provide quality information isn’t going to attract much interaction. Decide on the topic of the post before you start writing, and work through the topic logically from beginning to end. Decide on the angle from which you will approach the topic. Your blog post could take a strong stance for or against some current ‘hot topic’ or it could question common business assumptions, and provide examples which show things are not as they appear.
However you decide to approach the post, the end goal is to attract comments and interaction. Interaction is the central goal of blogging, but as anyone who has been blogging for a while will tell you it isn’t easy to get readers to comment. Most of your readers are busy people and if you want them to take time out of their day, to first read your post, and then to comment on it you need to give them a reason to do so.
Generating comments isn’t an exact science, but there are some techniques that we know work.
Tell a story
Stories start conversations; they bring people together and immerse them in a common experience. The best stories are those that your readers can relate to. Don’t be afraid to get personal. Tell your audience about specific situations and events that have taken place in your own life. Explain what you learned from these situations, and how your audience can benefit from what you are telling them. The more personal you can make the story, the more readers will relate, and the better the response will be. People relate to other people. With your blog you are trying to build a relationship with your audience, so they have to know something about you, and how, and why you think the way you do.
Many people read blog posts quickly, they skim read the post and pick out the parts that catch their eye. Asking questions is a great way to break someone out of that way of reading. They could be skimming through your post and not really taking much in. When they come to the question they have to stop and think about the answer. They might even go back and reread part of the post to check that they have properly understood what you are asking. It’s a little bit like sitting in a classroom or lecture hall listening to the person at the front speaking. Often your mind starts to wander, it is only when they start to ask questions to check your understanding that you are jolted back to paying full attention. At that moment you are engaged with what is going on. If you can get your blog readers to that point then you have a much better chance of starting a conversation with them.
Tie your topic to current events or a well-known celebrity
If you can make a connection with something in the news, or to a popular, or controversial figure then you should be able to generate a lot of interaction with your readers. Read through the comments section of any online newspaper, people always have opinions about celebrities and they enjoy the opportunity to share them. Find a way to connect your topic to something a celebrity has said or done, and you are sure to see some comments.
Reward those you respond
Offline businesses have been using this tactic for many years. They hold contests or offer rewards for buying their products. The same idea can work well online as well. If you want people to respond to your blog posts then give them a reason to comment. You could try offering physical prizes if your budget will stretch to it, or maybe an ebook or other digital resource. If you don’t have a budget for your blog then just maintaining a public list of ‘top commenters’ can work. Rewarding your audience is a great way to get the conversation started.
Keep the conversation flowing
It’s easy to get so wrapped up in creating your next fabulous blog post that you forget to look back at what people are saying on your older posts. If people can take the time out of their day to comment on your post then they deserve a reply. If you don’t respond to what they are saying then you are sending them the message that you don’t value their input, and they won’t bother commenting in the future.
The conversation should be on-going, and should lead to a long-term connection between you and your audience. It is vital you respond to any comments you receive. Ask further questions and carry the conversation further.
Without the input of your readers your blog will be much less effective. By opening a conversation with your readers you build a community and everyone benefits from a wider range of perspectives on the topic.
Which topics do you find generate most comments? What have you found to be the effective ways to start conversations on your blog? Why not share your tips in the comments below?