In business blogging, it's true, if you promote it, they will come — but the big question is: Will they stay? Will those who stop by your blog become subscribers, regular readers, referrers? In other words, is your blog remarkable? Will others make remarks about it to their friends?
Aside from all the Ninja-esque SEO tips, dazzling designs, and market guru gushing, growing your online community all boils down to benefiting the readers — in other words, creating compelling content.
How do we create compelling content?
People learn in a variety of ways. We all use both sides of our brains, but some favor right-brained information processing. This group loves stories, imagery, and personalization. Others are left-brainers. These are your “Just the facts, ma’am,” folks. One commonly overlooked key to community-building is blogging for both types of learners.
Don’t linger too long in your intro anecdote before getting to the meat of the post or you’ll lose the logical thinkers. Don’t overwhelm dreamers with details or they’ll never come back. The key is balance. Cater to both groups by mashing together the following elements -- what I call the "fab four characteristics of compelling content" -- and every reader will feel welcome.
- Relevant: People are joiners. They want to belong. But, they want to belong where they feel comfortable. Where they feel accepted. Where they feel needed. The key to making posts relevant to your audience is to know them — who they are, what they need, how to relate to them, and, most importantly, how your blog will provide solutions to their problems.
- Impactful: Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and thought about it long after you finished? How about a blog post? Did you re-tweet or Digg it or post the link on your Facebook page because you were so moved or impressed or amazed at what you’d read that you just had to share it? What in that post impacted you enough to keep thinking it? Was it a story? A cool tip? A product review? Re-read the post(s) that made you stop and go "Hmm . . ." Look for subtle techniques the blogger used to enthrall you. Make notes and adapt these techniques to your posts.
- Detailed: Along with the pizazz, put some specificity into your posts. Give step-by-step instructions when applicable. Use exact numbers. If the study says 48.7 percent, don’t say “nearly half.” Concrete references will speak to your analytical readers, who thrive on preciseness. Just don’t overdo it or you’ll lose the rest of your crowd. And detail-oriented learners enjoy stories, too, as long as they make a valid point that can be processed and applied.
- Actionable: This is where many bloggers fall short. We’re almost afraid to ask for what we want. If you’re blogging a book review — tell readers to read the book (without demanding, of course). If you’re promoting a product, invite them to check it out. (Remember the “Try it, you’ll like it” commercials?) Never assume the reader knows exactly what you want them to do. Let them know what you want. “Ask and you shall receive” has more than just a spiritual application — it applies to just about every aspect of our lives, including building your blog's community.
Okay — here’s what I want.
Use the comment area and share a link to a blog post that you found relevant, impactful, detailed, and actionable. Tell us your reaction. Did you leave a comment? Promote the post via social bookmarking? Join the blog's forum? Did you subscribe to the blog? Did you tell your friends? Did you purchase a product because of the post?
Now, go over the draft for your next post. Which, if any, of the above elements is missing? How can you work it in?
Until next time — happy blogging!
Linda Fulkerson (@onbloggingwell on Twitter) is a Blog Coach, Internet Marketing Advisor, and Social Media Enthusiast. Her instructional blog is located at OnBloggingWell.com.