What’s all this talk about building a community on your blog? What exactly is a community and do you really need one? And if communities are really that important, how can you build one for your own blog? Well, that certainly is a lot of questions so let’s dive right in.
What is a community?
Look at any successful blog and you’ll find a community, a group of people who share the same interests, engage in conversations, and share ideas and opinions.
Where do you find communities?
These communities usually first manifest themselves in the comments, but with many successful blogs you’ll also find the same groups of people interacting in their favorite social networks, too.
Why are communities important?
Community members feel a sense of loyalty and ownership with the blog, and a sense of kinship with one another.
For example, if you moved into a new home in a gated community you’d begin to develop a fondness for your neighbors, preferring to socialize with them as opposed to people from outside the community. While you and your neighbors all have different personal interests, you all share a common interest in the quality of your immediate neighborhood. You have community meetings where you share ideas for improving the neighborhood and you promote it to people outside the gates, encouraging them to move in and join the fun.
Blogging communities function in much the same way except all of the interaction goes on in your comments and in the social networks your community members belong to. So a blogging community:
- Gives readers a sense of ownership in your blog, making them feel a stronger sense of loyalty
- Encourages readers to share ideas and ask questions, making your blog a more valuable source of information
- Encourages readers to share your content with people outside the community, bringing in more loyal readers
How To Build Community On Your Blog
- Ask questions and encourage readers to discuss them in the comments
- Give your readers homework and have them report back with results
- Link to relevant content on your readers’ blogs
- Use questions from comments as post ideas and give a shout-out to the reader who asked the question
- Do projects and invite reader participation by asking them to submit something – pictures, questions, etc.
- Invite guest bloggers
- Email readers and ask for feedback
- Reply to comments and help further the conversation
Visit Their Communities, Too
Chances are your readers hang out in other places besides your blog. Are they hanging out on Facebook, too? Twitter? LinkedIn? Reddit? Join one or two relevant social networks and follow the community members from your blog. Get to know your readers outside the confines of your blog and they’ll introduce you to even more people you can engage with and draw into your community.