The fourth key to better blogging is social engagement. Active social engagement is the difference between a blogger talking to herself in her own echo chamber with few visitors and commentors, and a blogger participating in lively discussions with many visitors and a gratifying number of comments on each post.
My own efforts at social engagement have paid off tremendously. I used to be kind of shy, and although I would leave comments once in a while at other blogs, I never contacted people directly or actively engaged them on any real level. When I decided to make remarkablogger.com into an authoritative blogging destination, I knew I had to overcome my shyness and to seek out new contacts with people and become a networking hound. I have some great new contacts and friends. I get and I give links. I get and I give traffic. I am learning a great deal from others and I am helping others, as well.
The best content you can produce is absolutely essential, and that’s why it’s Key 1. You should focus on it first and foremost at the beginning of your blogging career. But without social engagement, all the best design work and SEO work will not help you achieve success as a blogger. I’m doing things I’ve never done before: emailing people who leave comments and trackbacks to personally thank them. I’m emailing bloggers whose work I admire or emailing questions to experts about something I’m researching. I’m reaching out to people, and they’re responding. This has already helped tremendously, and I haven’t even been doing it that long. The long term rewards for this will be opportunities about which I had never dared dream.
Not only am I taking the steps mentioned above, but there are a few other steps I’ve taken as well, and you can, too:
- Comment, comment, comment on other blogs! Contribute something of value to the discussion at hand. Do not just praise and fawn over the blogger or say something quasi-spammy like, Cool! Nice post! Add value to discussion. If you can’t, then don’t comment. Avoid linking to your own blog’s content in a comment on someone else’s blog unless it’s highly relevant and adds value to the post and the ensuing conversation in the comments. If you can’t significantly add value to the discussion, move on. Commenting on other blogs is a lot of work, but it’s a great way to meet bloggers with whom you can establish a stronger relationship with via email. I comment like a madman and it’s paid off.
- Find a good forum/bulletin board and participate actively. Your thoughtful contribution, combined with an unobtrusive text link to your blog, will do wonders for your traffic and commenting. One forum in particular I recommend is Chris Garret’s Authority Blogger forum.
- Use at least one, if not several blog community or networking services, such as Netscape, MyBlogLog, Blog Catalog, FaceBook, or LinkedIn. I’ve personally emailed people who have visited my site through these services, made new contacts, and grown my network as a result.
Managing all these social networks can be quite a job in itself. Facebook looks like it’s reaching the point where, instead of having a Facebook account to augment your blog, you could just do everything in Facebook, and you don’t even need a blog. I’ll have some more to say on this, later, but for now, it’s important to understand that you’ve got get out there and mix it up if you want your blog to really reach people and go anywhere beyond the millions of other average bloggers with their millions of average blogs.
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Leave a comment with a link back to a post you wrote after you read this. Tell me how you applied these concepts. At the end of this series, I’m going to pick the best examples and link to them. So please leave a comment below and subscribe to my RSS feed so you don’t miss the rest of them! Tomorrow is the Fifth Key: Blog Monetization.