How To Build A Loyal Readership – #B2SB2B Week 4 Reading

by Gigi Ross on October 3, 2010

Last week, we talked all about finding new followers and readers through multiple forms of networking.

But more important than finding followers is keeping them. A loyal follower will be your best marketer. So this week’s reading focuses on building a loyal readership.

1. Use the Fab Five.  Email. Twitter. Facebook. RSS. GFC. These are my Fab Five. Give your readers choice on how to follow and read you. Make each of the Fab Five OBVIOUSLY accessible on your home page. What seems redundant isn’t. If you have a prospective follower who only likes posts coming to their email, and you don’t offer email subscriptions…you will lose that person.

2. Decide where and how to make 1:1 contact with new readers. There are many ways to “touch” a new reader. You can use any or all of these suggestions.

* The first visit. There are plugins for both WordPress and Blogger that allow you to display a message above your current blog post that greets visitors. These can encourage a person to subscribe to your feed or follow you on  Twitter. They can also be customized based on where the visitor is coming from or if they’re new or returning. Check out WP Greet Box or What would Seth Godin Do? on WordPress and Blogger Greet Box for Blogger.

* the first comment. Send an automatic thank you message to a user after they leave their first comment or go visit their site and leave a comment back.  WordPress uses a plugin called Thank Me Later and it’s easy to configure. (haven’t found one for Blogger!)

* the first “follow” on GFC. When you get a GFC message that someone has newly followed you, send a note back to them inviting them to return. Tomorrow, I’ll give you a tutorial on how to do this.

3 Maintain consistency. Followers don’t stick around for bloggers who post 6 days in a row, then disappear for 2 months. Don’t feel like you have to post every day,  but make sure you keep a steady drip of posts going to keep followers engaged.

4. Identify what value you can provide your readers and then bring it! You are likely an expert at something. Whether it’s a craft, biting humor, tearing at someone’s heart, or cooking a mean entree, there is an element of you that people can and will perceive as something they want or need. When you figure out what that is, bring it to your readers!

5. Reward your readers. A thoughtfully selected giveaway can be a great way to reward your readers for their loyalty. I don’t mean that you have to give something away every week. That’s a whole area of specialty blogging,  that certain bloggers do very well. But an occasional contest is a perfect time to remind your followers that you think about them, too.

6. Find out what resonates with your readers and keep doing it! The main reason I took this gorilla of a challenge on is because my statistics told me to. My most-commented and most-visited posts are about blogging, and rainbow birthday cake. Well, there’s only so much one can write about rainbow cake, so blogging was the obvious choice. I’m not saying all of you should take on a 6 week project. It may be as simple as that people really engage with you when you talk politics, or about food.

7. Have a comment policy. I’ve tried various things to communicate with my commenters. I’ve  responded to my commenters directly on my blog/via email; I’ve visited/commented at every commenter’s blog; I’ve done nothing or forgotten to respond…I KNOW you know what I mean. Time management becomes an issue. I really feel strongly that I need to have a policy. People need to know what it is so they’re not offended, and I need to stick to it.  Having automated plugins or tools like Comment Reply Notification or Disqus can help.

8. Get followers to interact with each other. When your site becomes a destination – a place where readers can find other people to connect with – you’ve hit on something. So whether it’s a meme, a community forum, you name it – if you can get people talking to each other and making connections, you can sit back and enjoy!

9. Solicit feedback. Getting input from your readers is a way to keep them engaged and it improves your blog as well. Polls are a great way to do this. Or you can just email people or ask them to comment about a topic on your blog. During Week 1 of this challenge, Jessica of My Simply Complicated asked her readers to vote on which of her posts were their favorites. She used that info to create her “best of” page.  EXCELLENT and creative!

10. Don’t just pay attention to the squeaky wheel. You may eventually get a follower who seems to oppose a lot of the tweaks you make to your blog, your writing, etc. She may be a valuable source of input, but remember, she’s  just one person. If you have something on your blog and only ONE person complains about it, take that feedback with a grain of salt.

11. Rise above negativity. Without a doubt, you’ll experience your share of drama, negativity or comments from people that blast you for something. RISE ABOVE. Don’t succumb to it. It’s your blog. While mutual respect needs to be paramount, you don’t pay hosting fees to be insulted or ridiculed. Just delete and move on. Don’t engage in a war of comments or solicit your friends to get involved.

12. You are a host. Be hospitable. Think of your readers as guests in your home. It’s just that simple. Courtesy, warmth, humor and hospitality is what you should provide to each of them.

13. Be consistent across your communication channels. Be the same person on your blog that you are on Twitter. Hopefully, you’re being yourself, because that’s what people want. But if I were to start using Twitter to do nothing but moan and groan about troubles I have with a friend, yet keep my blog light and fun, readers will be confused.

I found this really interesting article from 2006 called 10 Reasons Readers Don’t Leave Comments by Liz Strauss. It’ll get you thinking about when to not take a lack of comments personally, and how to approach your posts to encourage, rather than discourage, comments.

Okay, on to this week’s writing task.

Writing Task: feature a few of your loyal followers in a post this week. Act as if you’re their media agent and you’re trying to get them a job. Sell them to your community – talk about how fabulous they are. Or maybe just say thank you to specific followers for their support. You can feature them however you want to – get creative! Writing task is due on Thursday!!! Linky is below for you to link up your post!

You’ll want to also go check out Natalie from Mommy of a Monster’s take on how to engage followers this week’s guest post – she has more great tips!

{ 25 comments }

Sarah October 3, 2010 at 6:40 am

Thanks for sharing these insights! I’ve been feeling like I could use some direction in this area and these tips have hit their mark :)

nancy@skinnykitchen October 3, 2010 at 8:41 am

Great tips. I’ve been doing many of them but now how several new things to try. Thanks a bunch!

Shopper Gal October 3, 2010 at 9:01 am

What a great post!! Fantastic tips- Thank you :)

Shopper Gal

Mel @ Outnumbered 3 to 1 October 3, 2010 at 9:23 am

Thanks for this great post! I shared it with my readers!

Amy October 3, 2010 at 11:57 am

Thanks for the great advice. I have had a blog for 3 months now, and I’m slowly getting in more visitors. I’ve done most of the networking, adding my blog to Foodbuzz, Foodblogs, and Foodieblogroll. I get the majority of my visitors by going to blogs and commenting (and then they return the favor). I’ve changed everything a few times until I am satisfied. I tried to add twitter, but I don’t know how to do it – I don’t really want to send tweets, is that why they would sign up? And I’m definitely going to add a greet box and maybe a monthly poll.

Ashley @ Just Another Mom of 2 October 3, 2010 at 2:08 pm

This is such good advice, I have loved this series! While content is key, it’s the interaction with readers that takes blogs to a new level and make them more interesting. I am much more inclined to read blogs regularly when I feel I “know” the blogger. Thanks for another great week of #B2SB2B!

Jessica October 3, 2010 at 2:53 pm

These are some great ideas. I would however like to dissuade people from using any kind of automatic reply or DM. They are annoying and impersonal. I get very turned off by companies or bloggers that use them.

Keyona October 3, 2010 at 7:58 pm

Your posts have been so helpful! I feel stupid for saying that but I want to stop lurking! LoL!

Mrs.Mayhem October 3, 2010 at 9:04 pm

Thanks for sharing these tips. Thanks also for the plugin that allows you to put a box above the current blog post. I have been looking for a plug in like that.

alicia October 3, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Wishing so much that blogger offered half the plugins that WP does. I just don’t have the energy to switch right now unless I hired help, which is also out of the question at the moment. Ugh. Looking into the greeter box you mentioned in number 2. Thanks. Hope your time away was therapeutic.

Nicole October 3, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Neat! Molly on Money directed me to this blog today (where she was directed by The Little Hen House). I look forward to more tips and to perusing your archives!

Another vote against automatic email replies to commenters– they are annoying and impersonal. If I get an email reply, I don’t want it to be spam!

kludgymom October 4, 2010 at 9:08 am

Generally speaking, I agree with you about automated anything. But when you start to get really behind on being able to respond to comments quickly (like I am at present), I think a well crafted response that doesn’t sound spammy, but rather is a nice introduction to the person’s site, can be an effective way to make a new commenter feel like they have been welcomed in. it doesn’t take the place of reaching out personally by any means, but I do think it can say “hey, I know you’re here, and hope you come back.” Following up with another personalized reply to the comment is always best – I guess I should have made that more clear. Thanks for pointing it out!

MamaOnDaGo October 3, 2010 at 11:48 pm

Getting to work on this weeks HW assignment. Let me get to it and check out Mommy of a Monsters post re: engaging followers.

Tracie October 3, 2010 at 11:57 pm

I have noticed “greeting boxes” at the top of a lot of wordpress blogs lately. I didn’t know there was a way to do it in blogger. Thanks for linking up to that, I’m going to go see if I can figure it out.

Alexandra October 4, 2010 at 12:27 am

I know I want to do automated replies. I tried discus but peeps told me to get rid of the form.

So , I did.

I like to reply right back, like you can here.

I know I know…kick Blogger to the curb..

GOOD POST! geeg!

Maureen October 4, 2010 at 12:35 am

Awesome! I have never heard of Thank Me Later plugin so I might have to give it a try. I’m a plugin ho. I’ve been using Comment Redirect Plugin which is also great as I set it up only for first time commenter, it redirect them to my Best Of Page where I thank them for their visit and first comment and introduce them to my old best & favorite posts.

I need to schedule this week’s HW since I’m so bad with dates/days.

Thanks, Gigi!

Natalie October 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Yet a million more reasons to switch to WP! I just told somebody that I need to get a commenting system. It would simplify things greatly.

I love the writing task this week!! LOVE IT!

Jackie October 4, 2010 at 6:28 pm

These are great ideas!

Have you thought about putting everything from the 6 week B2SB2B into an e-book?

Jill October 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm

And yet another fantastic week of awesome blogging advice!

Now, if only I can catch up on the hw assignments.

MultipleMum October 7, 2010 at 5:16 am

This is an awesome list of ideas Gigi. I don’t think I do this well. It is always about time for me, rather than lack of interest. I try to comment on the blogs of those who comment on mine (if you follow?) each day, but that is about as far as it goes. I enjoyed the writing task. It was a fun way to acknowledge some people in my blog community. Thanks.

heidi @ wonder woman wannabe October 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm

These are GREAT tips!! I’ll be forwarding them on to a few of my friends that are considering starting their own blog – thanks!

Kelley October 8, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I featured one of my favorite bloggers on my post on Monday. He also guest posted on the same day. I’m not sure if this counts as my writing assignment or not. If it doesn’t, I’ll swipe it off the McLinky!

JDaniel4's Mom October 9, 2010 at 5:04 am

This post was selected as one of my great posts of the week. Here is the link to my post: http://www.jdaniel4smom.com/2010/10/great-posts-i-came-across-this-week_09.html

kludgymom October 9, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Thank you for giving my post a shout out! :)

The Damsel in Dis Dress October 12, 2010 at 12:44 pm

Excellent post. I’m going to show this to my friend who is brand new at blogging.

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