Community Management, Content Marketing, Social Media Strategy, Blogging and Content Creation, Brand Communities, Social Media Marketing

Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT

Are you building a community, or an audience? In the last couple weeks, I’ve had two experiences that really shook me up on the topic of community. First was Chris Brogan’s simple but devastatingly effective post about the difference between audience and community being the direction the chairs are facing.

blog community 1 Building Your Blog Community: Its a Matter of W FACT

Second, was a conversation I had with Valeria Maltoni (whom I interviewed live on Twitter last week), at the MarketingProfs B2B Forum in Boston. She mentioned that she researches each commenter on her blog, and tries to connect them to other people in the community at her Conversation Agent site.

Well, don’t I feel inadequate.

In social media, we’re all teachers. And we’re all students. But that really only works if you have a community, and I’m realizing that I’m doing a pretty poor job of living that principle here at Convince & Convert. I want to build a community, but I’m not putting in the time necessary to make that a reality.

I cherish every comment you leave, truly. And I want to do more of what Valeria does, in terms of connecting with each of you in a deeper and more productive way. Because seriously, my job is to help you.

Just the W FACTS

So, I put together a little cheat sheet of ways to foster improved blog community, inspired by Brogan’s post, Valeria’s comments, some recent work by Mack Collier, and a bunch of my own head-scratching. I call it W FACT. I’ve incorporated it into my recent social media training seminars (although with a “do as I say, not as I do” disclaimer, because implementing W FACT here is a work in progress).

W = Welcome
When new visitors comment on your site for the first time, click on their names and visit their Web sites. Send them a personal email to welcome them to the community.

F = Facilitate
If visitors to the blog demonstrate an interest in a particular type of content, or topic, direct them to other posts or resources in a similar vein.

A = Answer
Within reason, answer every blog comment personally.

C= Connect
If you’re taking the time to learn more about your commenters in the Welcome phase, use that knowledge to create community segments. You can do this mentally at first, but it may require a simple spreadsheet eventually. Create yourself a list of people in the community who are consultants. PR professionals. Family members. Werewolves. Using that “birds of a feather” concept, connect new commenters to others in the same segment. This can be done via email or in answers to blog comments.

T = Thank
Don’t forget that there are millions and millions of blogs. Not to mention TV, radio, print, direct mail, ipod, movies, family, and (I’m told) a whole host of other activities that require you to stand and move around. Every second somebody spends on your blog is a second they could EASILY have spent doing something else. In the 21st century, the greatest gift of all is time, in every respect. Make sure you take the time to appreciate readers that spend theirs with you.

So, thank you. I’m going to try to do better. And I’d really appreciate any thoughts you have on this.

Related
  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com/ Tom Martin

    Jason,

    Man you nailed it. It’s like we always tell clients, SocMe isn’t rocket science but it’s damn hard work. You have to live it and be willing to really invest in the front end of relationship building if you hope to reap the back end rewards. Great post man.
    @TomMartin
    .-= Tom Martin´s last blog ..Finding Your Way Out of the Abyss =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      That’s a great line. “It’s not rocket science, but it’s damn hard work.” I may need to borrow that one on occasion. Thanks for the kind words, and for the comment.

  • http://www.tommartin.typepad.com Tom Martin

    Jason,

    Man you nailed it. It’s like we always tell clients, SocMe isn’t rocket science but it’s damn hard work. You have to live it and be willing to really invest in the front end of relationship building if you hope to reap the back end rewards. Great post man.
    @TomMartin
    .-= Tom Martin´s last blog ..Finding Your Way Out of the Abyss =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      That’s a great line. “It’s not rocket science, but it’s damn hard work.” I may need to borrow that one on occasion. Thanks for the kind words, and for the comment.

  • Bill Free

    Great post, Jason. Proof’s in the pudding: I find the blogs I visit most frequently tend to model these guidelines.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I agree Bill. I didn’t realize it at first, but the blogs I appreciate are more community than audience. Hopefully, we can get there here at C&C.;

  • http://YourWebsite Bill Free

    Great post, Jason. Proof’s in the pudding: I find the blogs I visit most frequently tend to model these guidelines.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      I agree Bill. I didn’t realize it at first, but the blogs I appreciate are more community than audience. Hopefully, we can get there here at C&C.

  • http://thelostjacket.com/ Stuart Foster

    WFACT love it. This is a significant time commitment (and one that I haven’t entirely made, I regret to say).

    I had no idea that Valeria researched each commenter and tried to connect them btw…that’s crazily awesome. Kind of excited to see what you can do with your community.
    .-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..All Roads Lead to an Integrated House =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      When she told me that, it blew me away. I’m excited to see what we can do here, too, but I’m not sure I can take it to that level. Valeria is an absolute genius, but has the benefit of a c corporate job. Conversely, I’m on airplanes almost all the time now, which makes it a little bit tougher to do that level of connectivity. But, I’m going to do my best.

      • http://thelostjacket.com/ Stuart Foster

        Looking forward to seeing you try…I’m going to step my game up as well ;)
        .-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..All Roads Lead to an Integrated House =-.

  • http://thelostjacket.com Stuart Foster

    WFACT love it. This is a significant time commitment (and one that I haven’t entirely made, I regret to say).

    I had no idea that Valeria researched each commenter and tried to connect them btw…that’s crazily awesome. Kind of excited to see what you can do with your community.
    .-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..All Roads Lead to an Integrated House =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      When she told me that, it blew me away. I’m excited to see what we can do here, too, but I’m not sure I can take it to that level. Valeria is an absolute genius, but has the benefit of a c corporate job. Conversely, I’m on airplanes almost all the time now, which makes it a little bit tougher to do that level of connectivity. But, I’m going to do my best.

      • http://thelostjacket.com Stuart Foster

        Looking forward to seeing you try…I’m going to step my game up as well ;)
        .-= Stuart Foster´s last blog ..All Roads Lead to an Integrated House =-.

  • http://grr-crank.blogspot.com/ Hank Merkle

    Jason,
    AWESOME! as @tommartin said, you nailed it! I’m not sure we can say it enough Soc Med is about helping others. I think Zig said it first: help enough other people get what they want and you WILL get what you want (it works) Keep on the path and “Use the force for good! LOL
    .-= Hank Merkle´s last blog ..Social Optimism =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Hank, you are exactly right. Zig started this whole thing. I just took a really long time for “Pay it Forward” to be in vogue. It requires a measure of long-term thinking that most companies (sadly) aren’t willing or able to commit to (yet). Thank you for coming by. It’s great to have you here. Do you know @thebrandbuilder ? He’s in SC too, I believe (and happens to be a genius)

  • http://grr-crank.blogspot.com/ Hank Merkle

    Jason,
    AWESOME! as @tommartin said, you nailed it! I’m not sure we can say it enough Soc Med is about helping others. I think Zig said it first: help enough other people get what they want and you WILL get what you want (it works) Keep on the path and “Use the force for good! LOL
    .-= Hank Merkle´s last blog ..Social Optimism =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Hank, you are exactly right. Zig started this whole thing. I just took a really long time for “Pay it Forward” to be in vogue. It requires a measure of long-term thinking that most companies (sadly) aren’t willing or able to commit to (yet). Thank you for coming by. It’s great to have you here. Do you know @thebrandbuilder ? He’s in SC too, I believe (and happens to be a genius)

  • http://www.sonnygill.com/ Sonny Gill

    Great acronym here, Jason. This is something I’ve implemented early on when I started blogging regularly. The main part of my strategy is to reply to every commenter via email and thank them for their comment but to also let them know if I left them a reply (not everyone subscribe to comments and know if the conversation is continuing).

    This and connecting with my readers through Twitter and other platforms has definitely helped build my blog’s community and is something I still practice.
    .-= Sonny Gill´s last blog ..Are You Shortcutting Your Community? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Sonny, you are the epitome of this premise. You give SOOOOOO much more than you take from social media – every single day. When people ask me how to do it right, I tell them to follow you on Backtype and watch your Tweet stream (seriously).

      I really, really like the idea of emailing people thanks for times when they don’t reply to comments. I think I’m going to adopt that model, if you don’t mind.

      Sincere thanks as always for your thoughtful comments. I know how much you get around, and I’m truly honored to be one of the places you choose to spend your time. You probably have a better handle on what blogs are worthwhile than anyone I know. So, when you stop coming, I know I’m officially screwed.

  • http://www.sonnygill.com Sonny Gill

    Great acronym here, Jason. This is something I’ve implemented early on when I started blogging regularly. The main part of my strategy is to reply to every commenter via email and thank them for their comment but to also let them know if I left them a reply (not everyone subscribe to comments and know if the conversation is continuing).

    This and connecting with my readers through Twitter and other platforms has definitely helped build my blog’s community and is something I still practice.
    .-= Sonny Gill´s last blog ..Are You Shortcutting Your Community? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Sonny, you are the epitome of this premise. You give SOOOOOO much more than you take from social media – every single day. When people ask me how to do it right, I tell them to follow you on Backtype and watch your Tweet stream (seriously).

      I really, really like the idea of emailing people thanks for times when they don’t reply to comments. I think I’m going to adopt that model, if you don’t mind.

      Sincere thanks as always for your thoughtful comments. I know how much you get around, and I’m truly honored to be one of the places you choose to spend your time. You probably have a better handle on what blogs are worthwhile than anyone I know. So, when you stop coming, I know I’m officially screwed.

  • http://www.smartblogs.com/socialmedia Rob Birgfeld

    What are your thoughts on addressing the short-hand comments made via Twitter? I think I’d rather just address the traditional comments– but like your blog, ours has a lot of input (albeit concise) via Twitter.
    .-= Rob Birgfeld´s last blog ..Andy’s Answers: How Intuit is engaging fans through social media =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Hi Rob. I don’t answer Twitter comments collected here via TweetMeme, because I don’t believe those folks are looking here for replies. I tend to reply to those on Twitter directly, although I guess that calls into question why I’m adding them to this comment list. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll stop doing that.

  • http://www.smartblogs.com/socialmedia Rob Birgfeld

    What are your thoughts on addressing the short-hand comments made via Twitter? I think I’d rather just address the traditional comments– but like your blog, ours has a lot of input (albeit concise) via Twitter.
    .-= Rob Birgfeld´s last blog ..Andy’s Answers: How Intuit is engaging fans through social media =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Hi Rob. I don’t answer Twitter comments collected here via TweetMeme, because I don’t believe those folks are looking here for replies. I tend to reply to those on Twitter directly, although I guess that calls into question why I’m adding them to this comment list. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll stop doing that.

  • http://blog.us.cision.com/ Heidi Sullivan

    LOVE WFACT, Jay. I’m inspired! I had a similar reaction to Valeria’s engagement with her community… see the end of my post from last week.

    http://blog.us.cision.com/2009/06/why-are-blogs-considered-social-media/

  • http://blog.us.cision.com Heidi Sullivan

    LOVE WFACT, Jay. I’m inspired! I had a similar reaction to Valeria’s engagement with her community… see the end of my post from last week.

    http://blog.us.cision.com/2009/06/why-are-blogs-considered-social-media/

  • http://constructingsocial.com colin browning

    Nicely layed out – while I think that many of us think about the middle elements of your W FACT model – the W and T often get forgotten, and as you point out are so powerful!

    Kudos! Nice post!

    @crbrowning
    .-= colin browning´s last blog ..Friday Funnies: Al Gore to Trademark Internet =-.

  • http://constructingsocial.com/ colin browning

    Nicely layed out – while I think that many of us think about the middle elements of your W FACT model – the W and T often get forgotten, and as you point out are so powerful!

    Kudos! Nice post!

    @crbrowning
    .-= colin browning´s last blog ..Friday Funnies: Al Gore to Trademark Internet =-.

  • Ken Moir

    Looking to build your blog community? @chrisbrogan & @ConversationAge explain how (great synthesis via @jaybaer): http://is.gd/1qlhr

  • http://twitter.com/elizabethsosnow/status/2524812015 Elizabeth Sosnow

    Need strategies to build your Blog Community? Try “W FACT” via @jaybaer http://chilp.it/?596fc6

  • http://EightTrails.com/ Ed Tankersley

    Great post, though it’s too bad the letters need to be in chrono order. CWAFT would be a much-funnier, Elmer Fuddish acronym.

    Anyway, I’m thinking a decent CRM tool would be better than a spreadsheet for tracking and connecting. I might give that a try and report back.
    .-= Ed Tankersley´s last blog ..Four Ideas for Marketing Travel in a Tough Economy =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      Yes indeed. Please do give that a shot. Maybe even something as simple as Highrise HQ from 37 Signals? Or, I suppose you could connect via Linkedin with every commenter, and use that as your “database”.

  • http://EightTrails.com Ed Tankersley

    Great post, though it’s too bad the letters need to be in chrono order. CWAFT would be a much-funnier, Elmer Fuddish acronym.

    Anyway, I’m thinking a decent CRM tool would be better than a spreadsheet for tracking and connecting. I might give that a try and report back.
    .-= Ed Tankersley´s last blog ..Four Ideas for Marketing Travel in a Tough Economy =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      Yes indeed. Please do give that a shot. Maybe even something as simple as Highrise HQ from 37 Signals? Or, I suppose you could connect via Linkedin with every commenter, and use that as your “database”.

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com/ Heather Rast

    Simple yet powerful suggestions for getting and staying in touch. . .these are great. I especially support your point that we need to respect and appreciate the time others spend with us, and how likewise we should all try harder to reach out and connect with others over what they’re doing.
    .-= Heather Rast´s last blog ..What’s All This Branding Stuff About, Anyway? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com/ Jason Baer

      I know how busy you are Heather, and I certainly appreciate your unyielding support of my work. We all need more true friends in social media, and I’m delighted to have you on my side.

  • http://insightsandingenuity.com Heather Rast

    Simple yet powerful suggestions for getting and staying in touch. . .these are great. I especially support your point that we need to respect and appreciate the time others spend with us, and how likewise we should all try harder to reach out and connect with others over what they’re doing.
    .-= Heather Rast´s last blog ..What’s All This Branding Stuff About, Anyway? =-.

    • http://www.convinceandconvert.com Jason Baer

      I know how busy you are Heather, and I certainly appreciate your unyielding support of my work. We all need more true friends in social media, and I’m delighted to have you on my side.

  • http://twitter.com/robthompson/status/2545227022 robthompson

    Just shared: Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT | Social Media Marketing | So.. http://tinyurl.com/ksyzn7

  • http://twitter.com/tjkirkpatrick/status/2550059673 Tracey Kirkpatrick

    RT @tweetmeme Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consultin… http://bit.ly/ufCT0

  • http://twitter.com/spiral16/status/2553143810 spiral16

    What is W FACT? @jaybaer has a great strategy for building a blog community: http://tr.im/rAHL

  • http://twitter.com/scenestealreric/status/2555550092 Eric Melin

    RT @spiral16: What is W FACT? @jaybaer has a great strategy for building a blog community: http://tr.im/rAHL

  • http://ittygrow.com/ rohan

    Thanks for the cheat sheet. This is my first time here (found you through SheGeeks). Since you didn’t have the foresight to make your list into a nice word I could remember, I had to bookmark your blog. Guess I’ll have to come back you bastard! :-)
    .-= rohan´s last blog ..How To Motivate Your Employees =-.

  • http://ittygrow.com rohan

    Thanks for the cheat sheet. This is my first time here (found you through SheGeeks). Since you didn’t have the foresight to make your list into a nice word I could remember, I had to bookmark your blog. Guess I’ll have to come back you bastard! :-)
    .-= rohan´s last blog ..How To Motivate Your Employees =-.

  • http://ittygrow.com/ rohan

    Thanks for the cheat sheet. This is my first time here (found you through SheGeeks). Since you didn’t have the foresight to make your list into a nice word I could remember, I had to bookmark your blog. Guess I’ll have to come back, you got me! :-)
    .-= rohan´s last blog ..How To Motivate Your Employees =-.

  • http://ittygrow.com rohan

    Thanks for the cheat sheet. This is my first time here (found you through SheGeeks). Since you didn’t have the foresight to make your list into a nice word I could remember, I had to bookmark your blog. Guess I’ll have to come back, you got me! :-)
    .-= rohan´s last blog ..How To Motivate Your Employees =-.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisknipper/status/2768853678 Chris Knipper

    Good, down to earth advise on Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT – http://tinyurl.com/ksyzn7

  • http://twitter.com/inovedia/status/2781843873 Inovedia Marketing

    Building your blog community: it’s a matter of W fact. http://bit.ly/NHs9z

  • http://twitter.com/bookbuzzr/status/2822520563 Freya

    Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT http://bit.ly/VVBlL

  • http://abdulcholik.com/ Pakde Cholik

    Hai Jason, I reallly enjoyed this article. This is a great, useful and valuable for me tho enhance the performance of my site. My I copy and translate your article and put it in my blog so that Indonesian people could learn this knowledge written by you. Ofcourse I will put your name as source.
    Thank you for your kindness

    Regards

  • http://abdulcholik.com Pakde Cholik

    Hai Jason, I reallly enjoyed this article. This is a great, useful and valuable for me tho enhance the performance of my site. My I copy and translate your article and put it in my blog so that Indonesian people could learn this knowledge written by you. Ofcourse I will put your name as source.
    Thank you for your kindness

    Regards

  • http://writingblog.ventajamarketing.com/ John White

    And, W-FACT without it appearing contrived.

    Ever meet people who W-FACT you in person, and it doesn’t feel bogus?

    I would guess that, if you can’t genuinely W-FACT with a co-worker in the lunchroom or a guest at a party, you probably can’t do it over the Web.

    Your thought?
    .-= John White´s last blog ..4 Things Better Than a Writer’s Résumé =-.

  • http://writingblog.ventajamarketing.com John White

    And, W-FACT without it appearing contrived.

    Ever meet people who W-FACT you in person, and it doesn’t feel bogus?

    I would guess that, if you can’t genuinely W-FACT with a co-worker in the lunchroom or a guest at a party, you probably can’t do it over the Web.

    Your thought?
    .-= John White´s last blog ..4 Things Better Than a Writer’s Résumé =-.

  • http://twitter.com/carolinamorning/status/4173812838 Carolina Mornings

    RT @tweetmeme Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consultin… http://bit.ly/ufCT0

  • http://blogs.telestream.net/screenflow/ Lynn

    Jay,
    Excellent, excellent post. Thank you so much – I realize now how much I’m NOT doing! I am committing this instant to implement W FACT. I think, for me, the C will be the most challenging, but I’m willing to put in the time and effort. It would be great to hear from some of the previous commenters on how this method has changed or improved their blogs, posts, relationships, results… Any followup planned?
    .-= Lynn´s last blog ..Where to find background music for your screencasts =-.

  • http://blogs.telestream.net/screenflow/ Lynn

    Jay,
    Excellent, excellent post. Thank you so much – I realize now how much I’m NOT doing! I am committing this instant to implement W FACT. I think, for me, the C will be the most challenging, but I’m willing to put in the time and effort. It would be great to hear from some of the previous commenters on how this method has changed or improved their blogs, posts, relationships, results… Any followup planned?
    .-= Lynn´s last blog ..Where to find background music for your screencasts =-.

  • http://twitter.com/swimmer35/statuses/6575715026 swimmer35 (swimmer35)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @jaybaer Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting … [link to post] – Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/swimmer35/statuses/6575715026 swimmer35 (swimmer35)

    Twitter Comment


    RT @jaybaer Building Your Blog Community: It’s a Matter of W FACT | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting … [link to post]

    Posted using Chat Catcher

  • http://twitter.com/swimmer35/status/6575715026 swimmer35

    RT @jaybaer Building Your Blog Community: It's a Matter of W FACT | Social Media Marketing | Social Media Consulting … http://bit.ly/ufCT0

  • http://www.easyrecovery.ie/ Hard drive recovery

    Indeed outsourcing social media are making highways for business to flourish. Thanks for sharing.

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