There are various aspects of blogging that shouldn’t be ignored. Professional bloggers or businesses hoping to engage customers ought to be familiar with establishing voice and building a great community. The latter is probably the single-most critical aspect of blogging on which people need to focus.
Have you ever visited blogs and there’s a nobody-home feel to the comment section? In fact, there isn’t even a single tweet or other social share of the blog post! This means the owner of the blog isn’t even interested in sharing his or her own material.
Back in the day, and we’re only talking about a few years ago, building community was easier. There was a recession in the U.S., and social media was nearing toddler-hood. This meant time was freely available, and people flocked to bloggers’ comment sections to share insights and opinions. There was a lot of ‘raderie.
Today, people have little time to devote to bloggers who are scratching the surface with mediocre content. This means comment sections lack liveliness, and communities are inhabited by fewer people.
Why Bloggers Need Community
When you have a community, they engage with you. They pull in more readers, and they share your content.
Readers flock to healthy blogs. That means it’s up to a blogger to write content that provokes thought and garners comments.
The comment section of a blog is its pulse. If there are no comments, it appears there are no readers. We know this is not true! Lurkers (those who read but don’t comment) do visit a blog post and your analytics tell you so.
Reasons to Create Healthy Community
Readers return for more content
A community supports the blogger in cases of a troll attack
A community becomes a source for guest posts should a blogger go on holiday or need help with family emergency
Comments’ sections provide inspiration for more content
Bloggers can poll a community and tap into their interests for content generation
A blogger learns from a community and begins to understand which topics fuel interest and which are just filler
Tips on Creating Community
Look at your comment system. There are several routes to go, and these are listed in the order of best to least favorite (IMHO):
In my 3.5 years of blogging, I have tried each of these comment systems. LiveFyre is first because it promotes community. It also shares your latest blog post so others commenting can click over easily to find what it is you’re doing. I also love LiveFyre because of its technical support. They are always ready to respond in nearly a heartbeat on Twitter; nothing beats that for customer service!
Disqus is a close second; it boils down to preference, really. What are you most comfortable with? Try them out, and be sure you have a tech expert to help you install them.
I really like CommentLuv and the Pro version I’ve heard is also #RockHot. CommentLuv finds your latest blog post and attaches it to your comment for you. Easy.
I never recommend a native commenting system…it does absolutely nothing for your blog. If you’re running WordPress.com, it requires you to sign into its platform and complete a bunch of different steps in order to comment. I find it annoying. If you’re at all serious about becoming a professional blogger long-term, then do self-host and do get a decent comment system other than a native plug in.
Social Share Bar
The second most important plug in for your blog is your social share bar. There are so many to review, and what it boils down to is your comfort level with the following:
Load time – some intense share bars slow the load time of your blog. Test them first!
Channels – there are some social sharing bars that provide hundreds of channels on which to share! It’s so annoying and astonishing. People truly share 90 percent of the time on the big five channels.
Location of share bars is a critical factor to the success of sharing. Put a bar at the top of the post and one on the bottom. When you add a social share bar that floats along the left outside margin of the confines of your site width, this interferes with some smart devices. I’ve been frustrated trying to leave comments via iPad when the social share bar is floating vertically off my device!
I am a total fan of Shareaholic. I have tried many social sharing plug ins, and this one is my first choice.
Make it easy, please, for readers to subscribe to your blog! The first recommended way is via RSS button – you know those large orange radio squares that universally tell people “subscribe here.”
RSS buttons do two things – allow people to never miss a post and help you develop community. Without this critical feature on your blog, you cannot invite people back to your site. Unless you engage with them directly and ask them to stop in, people will forget your domain name and be unable to find you.
Building community takes time, effort and engagement. Blogging is not a one-way street; you have to visit other blogs and comment so you can generate comments and like visits at your house.
About the Author
Jayme Soulati is author of Writing with Verve on the Blogging Journey. She is an award-winning professional blogger writing on public relations, social media and marketing. She is president of Soulati Media, Inc. and a hybrid PR professional delivering services in the realm of digital marketing, social media and content marketing.