How cultivating a sense of community is helpful for everyone
Have you got a useful blog bursting with fantastic content? Do you have the capacity to write more? Wouldn't it be great if all your readers knew about this, and were not only willing to read it, but regularly comment on it and recommend it to others?
What I mean by a sense of community is getting your readers to start to work for you, as well as you working for them. Blogs which become a community are far more active, sociable and popular. They are also more likely to get noticed and provide personal satisfaction for all concerned.
Many people have forgotten your blog has the potential to become a community. It has the ability to receive comments, which allows the readers to communicate with the blog's author. The author is able to reply to these comments, which continues the conversation and helps towards forming a relationship with their readers.
Meanwhile, take a look at this infographic to get a better idea of what I mean by a sense of community:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
The power of the reader
Every blog needs to have regular readers. This is achievable only if the blogger strives to connect with her readers in order to write what they want to read. After all, readers are the life-blood of a blog. If there isn't an affinity or bond between blogger and reader, the blog is less likely to succeed.
Also there needs to be an incentive for the reader to visit the blog. A reader is less likely to return unless they know there is something worthy to read. Therefore it's important to get to know which subjects your readers are interested in. The blogger's job is to write exceptional posts within these topics to reward the readers' loyalty.
Readers are fickle as well as being free-agents. They need to have a strong desire to revisit a blog. This includes being suitably entertained, educated or exhilarated once they arrive. And if they leave with a tangible tip or exciting new concept which could change their lives, there is a strong chance they will return for more.
The blogger's incentive
To keep producing all this wonderful content for your readers to enjoy, you will need to know if what you're doing is working, any good or even correct. Posting to an empty void without any relevant comeback can be soul destroying. Not receiving suitable feedback results in disillusionment, self-doubt, maybe even going off on a wrong tangent.
However, if you knew there was already an audience waiting for your next post, this would boost your writing activities no end. It would give you a sense of direction and purpose, a reason to keep on producing fabulous content. Motivation of this kind allows your brain to expand, think of new ideas, and respond positively to reactions.
The best form of feedback comes from having your readers poised to have their say, ready to share their opinion about your posts and tell you want they want. They are your best critics. It is through their comments, conversations and discussions you will learn not only what they think of your writing, but also what they want to read.
Creating a sense of community
If you want to get your readers onto your side, your blog needs to be adapted into a safe space. A secure haven where they can congregate, knowing they will meet other like-minded readers to share their ideas around your chosen subjects. Making people feel comfortable reduces stress and apprehension, and revives familiarity and a healthy environment.
Within this sense of community you are focusing on making friends. Not only encouraging readers to become your friend, but also friends with each other. Commenting allows people to get to know, like and trust each other within this virtual space. The aim is to break down barriers and embrace the similarities readers have with each other.
And get your readers to comment on each others' comments. This in turn will further conversations and develop into discussions, helping to increase the popularity stakes of the blog. A popular blog is more attractive to other readers and gets noticed by the search engines.
The need to belong is strong
Humans are sociable animals. We thrive in groups, banding together with a sense of connection or affinity. Those who think the same way are naturally drawn towards each other, categorised via a common thread.
This sort of society therapy could happily exist on a blog. Here are people who all like the same subjects, agree (or disagree) with the nature of the content, spark ideas off each other and flourish within the sense of togetherness a communal family provides.
Creating friends in this way helps each other to succeed in whatever endeavours they choose. The blogger gets more readers and the readers learn valuable information. The conversations which arise enhance, develop and increase the capacity of the subject matter so that everybody benefits. The blog could also become a necessary go-to resource.
Respect multiple contributions
All readers' opinions and feedback is valuable. Even a troll's malicious comment could be scrutinised between the lines. Sometimes there is an underlying message which could be gathered and analysed, such as highlighting a mistake or focusing on a gap in knowledge.
Any disagreement should be acknowledged, and in some cases, encouraged. Alternative points of view should be welcomed, as they provide more interest within the comments, which may stimulate others to contribute. Everybody's belief in how they interpret the subject should be aired and appreciated for its own worth.
Having a sense of community is encouraging every reader to comment, or at least like and share the posts. However, nobody is expected to respond every time. Participation needs to be fluid, offered when necessary, applicable to the subject or relevant to the readers' experiences. Stories are particularly acceptable, as people can relate to these more easily.
Members benefit each other
Communities exist principally to help its members. This is an environment where people can gather safely in numbers, to talk freely and ask questions about the subjects they are interested in. It is important they feel happy, wanted, appreciated and needed. And although this may already happen in social media, this can definitely be replicated in a blog.
Blogs can safely and intimately offer you a sense of community. Social media can be seen as too open for nervous readers, especially if they feel persecuted. Blogs lovingly enclose their members in a cocoon of relevant, compatible and reliable content. And participants resonate within their way of thinking, with protection from malicious outsiders.
Past comments are easily accessible for reference purposes, especially to back up an opposing point of view or bolster an argument. This makes any interchange much more interesting and pertinent. This is something which isn't so easily accomplished within social media, where engagement is quickly superseded by other content.
Has your blog developed a sense of community?
Something else I forgot to mention, it makes all the difference if your readers feel they also own your blog as well as yourself. This doesn't mean they are going to overtake it. This is when you have successfully encompassed them within your own space, and they are happy to help you, such as policing comments against trolls and other undesirables.
It's good to have this kind of crowd around. People who give you advice, offer blog topic suggestions, provide encouragement, exchange jokes and deliver a camaraderie which contributes towards a successful and popular blog. It's like having an extended family which confirms the reason why you are blogging and distributes it for the common good.
So if you haven't considered adapting your blog into a sense of community yet, I would give it some serious thought. It doesn't need to be formal like a membership site. You could start by opening your commenting facilities, asking for comments at the end of your posts and remembering to personally reply to every contribution. If your content truly resonates with your readers, the rest will follow.
Let us know what you think about this, or tell us about your community successes, in the comments below.