Friday, 10 April 2009

Build Your Blog Community with Twitter

Every blogger, no matter how ambitious or dedicated to his or her blog - wants a community around it. Easier said than done of course. To build a community you have to get people engadged around the premise of your content and then make it as easy for them to interact as possible. Both with you and each other.



3 Reasons Why Twitter Rocks for Your Community

It’s less tedious than forums. As any other type of website, forums have a specific organization scheme that users need to learn. Put in there signatures, private messages, subforums - and it’s not really the simples solution. Also, a forum you create has to start from scratch. From zero users to a community. What if you have both article comments and a forum - what will the user choose to do? With too many choice, he may just end up staying quiet.

It’s more effective than e-mail because you’re communicating to the community. While e-mail is personal, what happens when you get to much e-mail? What happens when you stop responding to people? Ok, so they might understand that you’re busy, but that’s not the right way to get your community going, is it? With microblogging, people know you’re around. They get it. The community is getting it’s feedback - in public.

Accessible everywhere - browser, desktop, mobile,… With all the tools and ways to access both Twitter or your own microblogging network, you choose the way you want to engage your readers. You might have 10 minutes on the bus perhaps. Just pull out your iPhone and get some feedback in. Never again will you want to share a thought with your readers and not be able to do so.

10 Ways to Empower Your Community with Twitter

1. Ask questions to your readers. What do they think about the topics you are covering, covered or plan to cover? Thoughts? Opinions?Since microblogging networks put a limit on how many characters you can write people have to get to the point. Keeping it simple means all the feedback you get is meaningful.

2. Answer questions. Ok, so answering all your e-mail is going to lead to e-mail bancruptcy pretty quickly. By having a Twitter account or maybe even your own dedicated network you can crowdsource your community questions. You may not know the answer, but I’m one of your followers does. Or one of his followers. Microblogging lets information circulate quickly, giving people the i nformation they need - when they need it.

3. Share the passion and linkup. What makes a real community are shared interests and passions. Your readers may love reading your articles, but why stop there. Link up other articles on the topic you cover. Give your readers a chance to explore videos, PDFs. By doing so, you strenghten your relationship with them. There on the inside, and you’re one of the guys sharing the good stuff.

4. Follow the trends and create hashtags. Trend such as #FollowFriday have become rituals in their own right. By participating in them you can gain exposure since a lot of users monitor certain hashtags. Also, you can create your own meme. Love movies? Start #ThrillerThursday and encourage people to recommend interesting thrillers.

5. Monitor the Twittersphere. With the help of Twitter search, you can monitor Twitter for terms relating to your topic. Say you write about stocks. Monitoring the term “stocks” lets you engage people who are interested in your topic. They have a question? Well - go on - help them!

6. Be accessible yet private. With a blog, you become a public figure. Yes, your blog gives you a celebrity-like status to your readers. You the blogger. With time, people want to know more about you, but forums and e-mail make it hard. Microblogging on the other hand gives your community a backchannel into your life. So we discovered that Jason Calacanis loves his dogs and Kevin Rose drinks a lot of tea. The same applies to your own followers. They do want to know those little interesting quirks that sum you up as a person. Through Twitter you can share the little moments you want to share, while still keeping your privacy.

7. Host contests and offer goodies. Namecheap runs “Fun Facts” Twitter contests. Every hour on the hour Namecheap asks a question and if you answer it correctly you get a $10 credit to your Namecheap account. Two of the players who answer the most questions in the period of two weeks get a Dell Inspiron Netbooks. Basically, they are teaching their community to pay attention. Their tweets don’t go unnoticed. Hosting a contest in terms of getting a response from the community is not hard since there’s basically no entry barrier.

8. Feature your fans and retweet. Retweeting is also part of the Twitter culture. Basically, if you find something interesting on Twitter, you quote or “retweet” the message, crediting the user who posted it. With your own community you can do the same thing. When a prominent blogger features one’ tweet its like saying “This guy /gal is cool, and this tweet is even cooler”. Social proof you need to use.

9. Offer them the world. By letting people engage you through Twitter or your own microblogging network you’re introducing them to a whole new level of social networking. By teaching things like how to retweet, use various tools and so on you’re impowering the community. People like to learn stuff and they respect people who show them things. I know I still respect the guy who taught me what RSS feeds were, and yes - I follow him on Twitter.

10. Let them speak. Giving your community a chance to speak is at the essence of each and every of the things we went through in this article. In that spirit, what would you do to build your blog community with Twitter and microblogging?







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