Every week, as part of my job at b5media, I get to organise a network-wide chat. Of course, not everyone can show up every time (what with issues regarding timezones, workload, commitments, etc). But, no matter what, we do end up having a good group every time. And, other than talking about gardens, Harry Potter, chocolates, music, etc. , we often find ourselves exchanging ideas that help us become better bloggers. Or at least, that's the plan anyway!
During today's chat, for example, we had a great brainstorming session about Engaging Blog Readers. A topic that's very close to my heart. Through our chat, we came up with 6 Ways to Engage Your Readers:
1) To engage readers, you must ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. I absolutely agree. And, it shouldn't be just any old question. There should be real curiosity - an honest desire to know the answers. Otherwise, the questions will fall flat. Learning the art of asking the right questions is always a good thing. Not just in blogging.
2) When someone comments in your blog entry, respond immediately. It helps encourage conversations. It might even prompt readers to comment again on the same blog entry. This is something that I'm trying hard to work on. It's definitely a challenge worth taking.
3) Other than responding to the comment within your blog entry, it's good to visit the link of the commenters and comment on their blogs too. Again, my intention is to do this more.
4) Use polls. And, when using polls, make sure to highlight the new poll in a blog entry (not just post them in a sidebar). And, remind folks to vote again just before you close the poll. Then, write a 'report'/results blog entry. I use this approach regularly in my Just Make Money Online blog. I run a poll there about once a month. And, the results are getting better. That's why I'm hoping I could start using more polls here at ShaiCoggins.com too.
5) Create galleries of user submissions. Or a page to highlight readers' submissions. There are different ways to do this, depending on each blog. Here at ShaiCoggins.com, one way I do this is through the "Tell Me About You" project, where I highlight folks through Readers Meet My Readers. Running similar "reader projects" is definitely great when it comes to engaging readers. It can be tough to run and/or to maintain them, but I think they're worth it.
6) Answer reader comment questions in blog entries. It helps foster interactivity. And, it may encourage folks to ask more questions too. This is another winner. I love doing this. I enjoy receiving and answering questions. In fact, I have an ongoing project that says readers can Ask Me Anything. And, true to form, I answer these questions in blog entries AND even have a gallery to highlight these Q and As.
Someone also came up with this idea: Express a negative idea, if you have one. Being snarky, doing a "bad review", attacking an idea/person, being controversial, etc... Yes, I agree that ranting and/or raising a controversial issue can definitely engage readers. And, if that's your "real voice", no one can tell you to "play nice" right? 😉 But, if this isn't your style, then it's not worth using this idea.
Oh, and writing of engaging readers, I added two new features here to help readers/visitors. You'll find them on my sidebar. One is the 'Since You Last Visited' plugin, where you can see how many new posts and new comments have been posted in this blog since you last visited. The other feature is the 'Top Commenters' plugin. Top 10 commenters get showed, with their name, a link to their respective URLs (one they used when commenting), and the number of comments they have left here. As you can see, I get the Top position (plus a couple of others, argh). Showing that I DO respond to comments left here.
What about you? Are you a writer/blogger? What do you do to engage your readers?
Image courtesy of oicvridi.