Next week I am speaking at the PRCA State Conference in Birmingham, on how to create engaging content. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my presentation for this event, and wanted to share some of the tips with you here on how to increase engagement on your blog.
1 – Decide WHO you are trying to engage. It all starts here. Are you trying to reach customers? Potential partners? Potential donors? You have to decide who you want to reach before you can reach them. You should already have your blogging strategy in place that will tell you what group you should be targeting, and why.
2 – Decide WHAT type of activity you want your target audience to engage in. This is also critical. You need to first decide who you want to be reading your blog. Then once they are on your blog, you need to decide what action (or type of engagement) you want them to take. Do you want them to comment? Sign up for your email newsletter? Visit your website? Email you? If you don’t know what action you want visitors to take on your blog, you can bet that they don’t either.
3 – Give readers multiple ways to connect with you. Don’t just hope for more comments, give visitors an option to sign up for your blog’s feed (via both Email and RSS), and give them a way to contact you directly via email. And if you have a retail location especially, add your phone number. Believe it or not, not everyone is comfortable commenting on blogs, they may want to contact you privately, especially if they are interested in hiring you or buying from you.
4 – Reward readers that engage in the type of behavior that you want to encourage. Remember when I mentioned that Comment Redirect is a great plugin? It does exactly this, when you leave your 1st comment here, you are redirected to a page that thanks you for your comment. Why? Because I want readers to leave more comments. So when they do, they are thanked via that special page.
5 – Ask for the type of engagement that you want. If you want more comments, then ask for them. If you want more subscription signups, then add a footer to your posts asking readers to subscribe to your blog.
6 – Don’t moderate comments. Or if you must moderate comments, approve them ASAP. But let’s be honest, if most people spend even 30 seconds writing a comment and are greeted with ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation‘ then the odds are they won’t be back. For most new business blogs, comment moderation really isn’t necessary. As long as your blog has a way to block spam (such as the Akismet plugin), then the only moderation that will be necessary is for the content itself. For most business blogs it will take a while for your blog’s readership to grow to the point where you are getting frequent comments. So as long as you are proactive about checking new comments, you shouldn’t need to moderate.
7 – Respond to existing comments. This is very obvious, but a lot of business bloggers miss this. Last week’s post on Why Introverts Love Social Media currently has 89 comments, but 34 of them are from me. You have to write em to get em.
8 – Tailor your content so that it encourages the type of engagement you want. This goes beyond simply asking for comments or emails in a post. Think about what type of content would prompt the type of engagement you want. For getting comments, this is fairly easy. But what if you want more subscribers or even buyers, you need to create content that will move visitors toward that level of engagement.
9 – Interact with readers on other sites to drive interest back to your blog. Figure out which sites/blogs current and potential readers spend time on other than yours, and interact with them there. For example, find sites/blogs that cover your specific industry. The odds are that some of the people you want to reach via your blog, are already actively engaged on those sites. If you can go interact with them there, that can lead them back to your blog. Or maybe if you are a marketing and branding firm, a LinkedIn group on branding might be a good place to connect with people and drive interest back to your blog. And since you have already connected with these people OFF your blog, they will be more likely to interact with you when they come back to your blog.
10 – Publish new posts based on when people visit your blog. Check your blog’s stats, and note which days and times have the msot visitors. If you discover that peak traffic occurs every Monday-Friday from 10am-2pm each day, then there’s your likely window for when you should be publishing new posts. If you can give your visitors new content when they are on your blog and looking for it, that increases the odds of getting their attention, and getting them to interact with your content.
BONUS: Experiment. Use these proven tips as your starting point, but don’t assume that each of these are the only ways that YOU can increase engagement on YOUR blog. Good business bloggers are the ones that can take what has worked for others, and apply it to their own efforts. But the great business bloggers are the ones that can also create successful efforts based on their unique situations. Every blog’s readership and goals are different, and need a unique strategy and execution. Use the above list as your starting point for increasing engagement on your blog, not as the beginning and end.