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!