This is a guest post by Frank Dickinson.
If you have community, you have a lot. This is even true when it comes to your blog. There is no better feeling than building a growing and interactive community of readers on your site.
That amazing feeling doesn’t just happen. Community must be fostered.
Here are 5 ways to foster community on your blog:
1. Get your setup right.
Commenting is the #1 way community is built on a blog. Having the proper setup for commenting to take place is important indeed.
Threaded comments are a must. Turning this setting on in WordPress allows readers to respond directly to each other and not just show up as the most recent comment.
When your readers start talking back and forth to each other about the topic at hand – community score!
Choose the best commenting system. Whether it is the native WordPress system or a third party client like DISQUS, Livefyre, Echo or Intense Debate (my favorite), you need to choose the best system that fosters community.
Tip: Any system that spends more time with issues and bugs and downtime, no matter how powerful, is not a community builder. The frustration for a reader of not being able to post comments is a definite community killer.
2. Communication fosters community.
There has been a long debate about whether you as the blog owner should respond to every comment posted. Here’s my take.
I am under the deluded impression that my readers are there and commenting because they like me.
If they like me, then they probably wouldn’t mind interacting with me.
How can they do that if I don’t give them the opportunity by responding to their comments?
I still respond to every commenter on blog posts that I write. I also find myself in the midst of conversations between my guest bloggers and their commenters.
Communication fosters community. Enough said for me.
3. Speaking of guest bloggers, offer your readers some variety and use them.
Guest blogging has a bunch of benefits including stuff having to do with SEO, but in my mind, it is a way to build community through variety. People grow tired of the same thing over and over. They also grow tired of the same person writing each and every blog post.
I use a ton of guest bloggers at FrankDickinson.me. Guess what has grown since I started doing so? Yep – community.
4. Connect with your readers outside your blog.
Social media is ripe with places that we can connect and further enhance a sense of community. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube are a few of the big boys for community building.
The more places your readers can see you and get to know you – AND each other, the better. Use the tools you have at your disposal.
5. Make it intentional. Whatever we do with intention, we do better.
Do you have a community building strategy for your blog? Could you write down the “what, why and how” of your efforts at fostering community at your blog?
At FrankDickinson.me it’s right in the tagline: “Creating conversations in a world of chatter.”
Make it intentional – make it better.
What are your thoughts about community building with your readership?
As a reader, what do you want from a blog in regards to community?