by Guest Blogger, Lena West, Chief of Social Media Strategy at xynoMedia
I had a lovely conversation with a bright, well-read, experienced woman yesterday. (That's always nice, isn't it?) Anyway, this woman--let's call her Ann--was concerned because although she knew people were reading her blog,
she wasn't getting the kind of feedback and engagement she wanted. This
made it hard to know what her blog readers wanted to read more of and
what their thoughts really are about her content.
The thing is, Ann's blog is GREAT. She's an awesome writer, she's got an interesting way of approaching her area of expertise (more holistic than silo'ed and segmented) and, offline, she's a super conversationalist. The thing is, her blog is very instructional--and that was the direct source of the disconnect she was experiencing with her blog readers.
So often, we rush to educate and teach. And adding value--that's a GOOD thing for sure. But, this is SOCIAL media, so it's not solely about the education. It's also about the connection. Yes, your readers want you to share your expertise with them, but they also want to know your insights. They want to know how you FEEL. Anyone can give advice, but it takes a special someone to connect and build their brand via that connection.
How do you know if you're doing too much "teaching" and not enough connecting?
A telltale sign is you know you're getting blog traffic, but you're not getting comments. (Granted, there could be other reasons for not getting comments--like not asking for them--but no comments is a classic sign of low connection/engagement.)
Another sign is if you connect better with people using social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook, but you're getting little to no convo on your blog. For some reason, when we take pen to pad--or in this case--keyboard to screen, we go into "professor" mode. I know because it happens to me, too. But, some of my best blog posts--the ones that get lots of comments--are when I teach AND show a little "underbelly."
If this happens to you, how do you fix it?
Well, one way is to be more you. Resist the need to "spill all your milk in the lobby." Educate, but don't "over function." Take some of that teaching energy and use it to connect.
Also, there's a gift in telling a story. Smart people--the kind of people you want reading your blog and engaging with you--are naturally curious. Leverage that. If you start with a story, people will connect because most people grew up reading stories or being read to as children.
And let's not forget: Those naturally curious people want to know what's coming at the end of your story, so they keep reading. And because you've engaged them from a place of wanting to connect with them, they'll be inclined to do the same by commenting.
Do you have other ways of connecting with your blog readers? If so, do share! If not, share what action steps you're going to take in 2010 to connect with your readers.