November 23, 2014

10 Ways To Grow Your Blog’s Community

As a small business owner, you love your blog. Your blog is where your community goes to hear your insight, it’s where they learn more about you, and it’s where they put a human face on your logo.

Or, it would be all of those things if anyone was actually reading your blog. Unfortunately, they’re not. And this is a problem.

Growing a small business blog can often be more difficult than we’d like. But you can conquer it and growing a thriving, engaged community to complement your business. Below are ten tactics to help generate more discussion and eye-balls on your blog. I suggest picking several and doing them in combination.

1. Let people know how to engage: It sounds silly, but not everyone knows how to leave a comment on a blog, or how to subscribe or what actions they’re supposed to take to become part of your community. It is your job to tell them. Have a tutorial for how to leave a comment. Let them know how they can respond directly to other users. Have a comment policy on your site. All of these things give readers the information they need to engage responsibly. No one wants to look dumb.

2. Promote your members: The folks who are active in your community aren’t just active there. They have blogs and Web sites and businesses of their very own – so promote them. Tell people about their cool business. Offer a LinkedIn recommendation. Pass their name to someone you think should know about them. By lifting up the people in your community, you show them how valued they are and that you see them.

3. Seed your blog conversation: In a perfect world people will differing opinions would come to your blog and have intelligent discussions on topics that are relevant to your industry. However, this isn’t a perfect world. This is the Internet. To help combat this, consider seeding your blog conversations to help them get started. Call in your blogging buddies and have them take different viewpoints in the comments section of your blog and have them debate your post passionately in the comments. Sure, maybe it will start out a little manipulated, but the real people will see the action and join in. Sometimes we all need someone to start the conversation for us and show it’s okay to hop in.

4. Go out and find new readers: Go to other blogs and discussion forums where people are talking about your industry, scout out the most active/respected commenters, and introduce yourself. Do not spam or market to them but say hello, let them know you’ve noticed their contributions, and thank them for making you a smarter individual. That is it. Without you ever asking them to, these people will do their homework to check you out and will stumble onto your blog. If they like what they’re seeing, they may join in.

5. Recruit new readers: Same as the above, but now offer an incentive for them to go check out your blog. Do not offer them money or a new television (this will change their motivation), but maybe invite them to be a beta tester for your new product or to act as a site moderator. Give them some non-monetary perks for getting involved.

6. Offer rewards for participation: You may have noticed that some blogs give users “points” for leaving comments or participating in the conversation. The goal of this is to provide an incentive for someone to get involved. If you’re going to do this, try not to reward people simply for quantity or you’ll wind up with people contributing nothing but low-quality content.

7. Create posts designed for community action: Sure, in blogging for your customers, you’ll want to create great resources on how to use your products and how to solve that common problem they’re facing, but also create content specifically geared toward getting interaction.

  • Maybe it means you posing a question and then asking your community to answer.
  • Perhaps it’s a Caption This Photo contest.
  • Maybe it’s a giveaway.
  • Maybe it’s asking users to create something and submit it.

These types of content pieces are written for your community and give them a reason to get involved.

8. Get people offline: I know it sounds weird, but one of the best ways to strengthen your online community is to encourage people to take it offline. Hold a meet up, have an in-store party, tweet you’ll be at X restaurant at 9pm and ask people to come join you. Get people away from their computers and talking in real life and they’ll from far stronger connections.

9. Eliminate bullying: As your community grows, you may find that some of your more established members don’t always react so kindly to new people. They may respond aggressively, question their knowledge or not allow them to enter insider discussions. It’s your job, as the blog owner, to nip this in the bud. Fostering an environment that has too much “insider baseball” and doesn’t do an adequate job making new people feel welcome will stifle your community’s growth. Don’t be afraid to reprimand members when necessary.

10. Have swag: What? People love *stuff* and they love showing off their stuff. Give people stickers and T-shirts with your blog URL when they make an in-store purchase or send out stickers to your most active on-site community members. Get swaggy with it.

Those are just ten ways you can work toward growing your blog’s community today. What other tactics have you used?

15 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

15 Reactions

  1. Thank you, I really enjoyed reading this and yes, you did make me smarter :-)

  2. Nice list, especially the part about get rid of bullies. Nobody needs cyber-bullies hanging around ruining the group.

  3. Thanks for the tips, I really like that you encourage us to “take it offline.” It’s a good idea I hadn’t considered, to engage my readers in person as well.

  4. Regarding #10 – Amen! I love swag and it always leads to discussions about who gave it to me. Gets your brand talked about offline.

    Regarding #3 – Even if you do seed the comments along a good path, sometimes the conversation goes all to hell. Don’t feed the trolls!

  5. Thanks for putting this together. As small business owners, especially tech-savvy ones, it is easy to forget that most people don’t have the laser focus on your blog. I agree about seeding, but the manipulation concept feels shady. You go on to say that having some friends have a dialog in the comments is a way to do this. Provided the discussion is real, I don’t see that at manipulative, but rather proactive. If you’ve scripted the comments, then yes, that’s manipulative and people will sense that.

  6. Yep, Very solid list… Best, Brian-

  7. Thanks for the tips, Lisa.

    The one that I just can’t put my arm around is the “swag.”

    Maybe some of the huge bloggers can use their brands that way; t-shirts, etc.

    Maybe hooking up with Snuggies…

    The Franchise King®

  8. Very good article, and a great list!!

  9. Nice list, especially the part about getting rid of bullies. Nobody needs cyber-bullies hanging around ruining the group.

  10. Thanks Lisa, These are some great tips! I feel that #2 is really helpful. The more that you promote others will not only create stronger relationships but will help you gain more support as well.

  11. Thanks for the list. There are items on your list I hadn’t heard of before, so appreciate your originality. Get people offline and offer rewards are two new ones for me. Thanks again!

    Denise
    writemoneyinc.com

  12. Thanks so much for this list, Lisa. You know, it never occurred to me that people might not know how to leave a comment on a blog… but almost every blog platform is slightly different, so I can see how someone who wasn’t entirely familiar with “this internet thing” could find it challenging.

    I’m going to have a serious think about how I can incorporate this one into my site!

  13. The ‘Eliminating Bullying’ has caught my eyes! I never think about this before. Sometimes, the new readers might be scared by those experienced readers just because of lacking of knowledge. Growing my blog community is one of my goals for this year. Thanks for your sharing!

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