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.
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.
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.