I have a friend. We taught together for several years. She’s old enough to have kids out of college and totally doesn’t keep up with the kinds of things middle schoolers are into. She was the opposite of “cool”. I never met a student who didn’t love her.
You see, she genuinely cared about each one of them. She would stop them in the hall to check up on them. She would listen to them. She remembered details that they told her and asked about them later.
She is an incredible teacher, and an incredible person.
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with Internet marketing. Well, we’ve been talking about reader engagement and building community, yes? This woman engaged 7th graders in reading. She built a community in her classroom.
Because she cared. Because she went out of her way to show that she cared. And it was totally genuine. She made you feel good to be you when you were around her.
Before we get to Kumbayah here, I haven’t forgotten that we’re on the Internet. Although we do get to know some of our blog readers to some extent, we don’t generally have the kinds of relationships that you build by seeing each other in person on a daily basis. There are, if you’ll excuse my language, assholes out there in Internet-land. I’m not suggesting that you forget that.
But warnings aside, most of your readers are pretty cool people – or at least, mine are. Most of them are reading your blog for much the same reason that you’re writing it. They want to know more about making money online, or losing weight, or improving their mental well-being, or whatever topic you write about on your blog.
The thing is, they can find that information elsewhere, too. Why should they keep coming back to you? As we’ve said before, the first reason is that you give them great information. You also give them an opportunity to engage in a conversation about the topic.
And then, you take an interest in them. They’re not just another comment or email subscriber to add to your total. They’re real people. Many of them have their own blogs, email lists, and social media accounts.
If you have CommentLuv installed, your commenters can leave a link back to their blogs when they comment. Not only is this great for building backlinks that help them with their search engine rankings, but it also gives you a chance to find out more about the person behind the comment.
As much as you can, click on those backlinks. Read your readers’ blogs and leave a comment there. Like them on Facebook, Follow them on Twitter, maybe even join their mailing list if their topic is one you’re interested in.
I feel the need to add that I’m not suggesting you become a stalker. I’m just saying, if you have the opportunity, get to know your readers in their territory as well as in yours. Not only does that build community, but it also gives you insight into their needs and concerns.
Depending on the size of your readership, you may not be able to do this with every reader every time. That’s okay. Just do what you can, when you can, and only if your interest in your readers is genuine.
Do you try to get to know your readers? What do you do to get to know them better? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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