Businesses have been recognizing the increasing importance of blogs over the past years. In the 2012 study done by the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, it showed that 171 (34%) of the Fortune 500 companies have corporate blogs. It is the largest increase in blog use since 2008 when the think tank started this research. Back then, only 16% of the Fortune 500 companies have blogs. Obviously, these companies do not need some reputation building.
Now the million-dollar question is, “What do they get out of it?” The answer to that is simply READER ENGAGEMENT. By interacting with their readers, these companies strengthen their relationship with them. It also makes industry giants more personal and accessible to ordinary consumers. If bigwigs capitalize on this then you should, too!
As we wrap up our blog reputation series, we will look closely at how you can encourage reader engagement. Now that you have established your expertise and created quality content, it’s time to involve your readers. It’s time to listen and learn; read and respond. Reader engagement can be seen in different forms such as blog comments, social media shares, guest posting, and other web tools. Let’s zero in on each one of them:
Blog comments are indicators that netizens have read the majority if not the entire content of your blog. It gives you an accurate picture of what your readers appreciated from your post. There are three things you need to remember in blog commenting:
- Open your post for comments. Don’t be a snob. Make it easy for your readers to leave their opinions. You can encourage comments further by posting questions at the end of each blog.
- Reply to comments. You need to reply to each comment most especially if you’re still building your reputation as a credible blogger. Be friendly and accommodating in your replies. If you get more than 50 comments for each blog post, that’s when you start working on a reply strategy. For volume comments, sometimes you just have to let your readers interact with each other and insert your replies in the conversation as needed.
- Post comments on other blogs. The blogosphere also operates on the “you reap what you sow” maxim. Visit similar blogs and comment on their posts. You will most likely receive comments and back links (i.e. links that are directed to your site) from those bloggers, too!
QUICK TRIVIA: As of 2012, WordPress.com has 42 million blogs that generate 400,000 daily comments. Those stats prove that people do read blogs and leave comments! So keep those posts coming!
Social Media Shares
Social media is the best platform for quick information dissemination. Make it effortless for your readers to share your post by putting social media buttons after each post. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Reddit, and StumbleUpon are the top social media sites that effectively host content sharing. Remember that your readers respond to the number of recommendations you have received. So if they see that your post has been shared a hundred times or more it also prompts them to do the same.
QUICK TIP: Inserting multimedia content will make your blog more shareable. A study was conducted by SimplyMeasured and M Booth, showing that videos are shared 12 times more than text posts and links combined. Photos are also liked two times more than text updates.
This means posting blogs to other similar sites and allowing guest posts in your blog as well. You need to understand that the blogosphere is not a competitive environment compared to retail. Users are constantly looking for content so even if you’re specializing in online marketing your readers will still look for additional content on that topic. It doesn’t mean that they don’t trust you, they just need more. Thus, you should see other bloggers as partners and not competitors. Guest posting will establish your credibility even more because of your presence in multiple sites. It also increases your network and influence. Having guest posts also show that you welcome other sources and are not threatened by them.
QUICK REMINDER: Do not forget to reply to the comments on your guest posts. Meaning you need to check the site you contributed to and see if there are comments that need replies. You can coordinate with the blog owner to alert you should there be comments in your guest blog.
- CommentLuv is a WordPress plugin that basically allows you to reward your commenters through advanced back links. It also has an anti-spambot plugin that protects your blog from spam comments. One of its best features is the ReplyMe plugin that sends an email to users when they receive a direct reply to their comment. Your guest authors will also receive an email when their post has a new comment.
- Triberr is a blogging community that share and support other bloggers. Its basic concept is managing a Tribe or a group of bloggers writing about the same topics. You first follow a tribe as an “observer” then interact with other bloggers, share their posts, post comments, etc. Depending on your activity, the Chief can promote you as a member and your posts will now appear in your Tribe Stream or home page, which in turn, gets shared, commented, and back linked.
QUICK ADVICE: In using these web tools, what your readers and fellow bloggers are looking for is GENUINE interaction. They can easily detect if you’re just there for self-promotion and back link solicitation.
Increased reader engagement in your posts will affirm your authority as a blogger. Learning and interacting with your fellow bloggers will help in validating your position as an expert in the blogosphere. By encouraging reader engagement, you are allowing yourself to be openly appreciated and criticized by netizens. Either way, the feedback you will receive will only propel you to become a better and more credible blogger over time. Simply put, the art of building and keeping your blog reputation revolves around the continuous process of give and take between you and your readers. It is, in a sense, very organic with your expertise as the roots, your content as the seeds, and your increasing blog followers as your hard-earned harvest. It’s a cycle that only gets better with time and experience in the ever-thriving blogging environment.
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