We bloggers are a friendly breed. We are always looking to find new readers, and do whatever it takes to build relationships with other bloggers.
Regardless of what people say about online relationships, I believe that online friendships can learn a thing or two from the real world relationships. It’s not like online relationships are a mere networking between faceless computers. There are real people behind computers who share this 3 dimensional world with us.
Considering how difficult it is for many bloggers to make friends through blogging, I’ve made a list of things to do and avoid that will help you make new contacts in the blogosphere.
Things to do and avoid on your blog
Don’t speak authoritatively – Although I believe that having authority in your voice is vital if you want others to take you seriously, it is not wise to assume that you are the boss. It’s your blog, all right, but your readers are not your employees. Whether they visit your blog or not is their personal choice. Nothing is stopping them to quit visiting if they find your words condescending. After all, you don’t pay them to visit.
Be polite and friendly if you want your readers to treat you as a friend. No one really likes to befriend bullies.
Reply to every commenter in person – It ticks me off when I make a comment on a blog (especially when I ask a question) and the blog owner does not care to reply back to me. Comments section on blogs are there for a reason – use them to interact with your readers. There are bloggers who have turned off the commenting option for some silly reason they give, but it’s still understandable. They tell me straight away: read this and move on. No comments allowed. But if you have enabled commenting, you should consider replying to those who take the time to comment on your blog.
As I said, virtual world is not a whole lot different from the real world. In real world, if we talk to someone and get a blank stare in reply, we assume that either that person is too arrogant or a bit on the other side of sanity. This is exactly what I think of the bloggers who don’t care about my comments. I think of them as too proud or too reserved. So, on I move.
Speak in a conversational voice– As opposed to conventional writing, blogs are supposed to be conversational. None of your formal business-like writing rules hold anymore. Therefore, if you want to elicit replies from your readers, talk to them as you would talk to them in the real world.
This is the beauty of blogging. You can be conversational and yet avoid the mistakes you make in real world conversations. It’s writing because you can edit your words and decide what to say and what to hold back. It’s a conversation because you are talking to your readers and you want them to respond to you. You get the best of both worlds!
Call your readers by name – Hearing someone say our name makes us all tingly with excitement. And believe me, this rule holds even in the online communications.
Whenever you reply to your commenters, use their name freely, e.g. “You are right Chris”, “Are you sure Matt?” This gives your comment a human touch, and your readers are delighted to see that you care about them.
Sometimes a commenter leaves his website name instead of his own name, so to find out his real name, visit his website and look under his post titles, in the post meta-data section, or go to his ‘About’ or ‘Contact ‘ page to dig out his real name. Come back and address him by name!
Kick off discussions – Most bloggers do reply to comments but they don’t push the discussion forward. The discussion pattern in comments usually goes like: comment-reply, another comment-reply and so on. If you reply to a commenter and he replies back to you, this is what I call a discussion, or a conversation. But how do you do that?
Simple. Ask questions. Encourage them to reply back, ask them to clear up a point, solve a riddle, expand on their previous comment, etc. This way, you get to know your readers better, pile up comments, make relationships, and get all other social benefits associated with comments.
Things to do and avoid on other blogs
Don’t leave short comments – It’ll only take a moment longer to come up with something worthwhile to say. Comments like “Nice post” and “Good tips” are not helpful. If you are out there to network and build relationships with other bloggers, you’d better add value to their blog.
Reply back – You go out in the blogosphere in commenting frenzy, leave comments on tons of blogs and never check back to see if someone replied to you. Not nice. When you reply to a post, you engage in a discussion, and it becomes your responsibility to keep up with the discussion till the end, or at least as long as others are replying to you.
Return the favor – If a blogger adds something valuable to your discussion, you go and add something valuable to his discussion. If a blogger has been voting you up on all social media/bookmarking sites, you should check out his blog and return the favor. If a blogger has been linking to many of your posts, you should mention his blog in one of your speed-linking posts (if you don’t do such posts, do them). You’ll enjoy giving back as much as you do receiving.
Blogs are platforms for discussions, and the social web thrives on the give and take rule on equality basis. To make friends, and have successful relationships in the blogosphere, you have to be a giving, caring, listening, and a talking human being, not a mere bot who types away post after post incessantly in a hope that people would come in hordes and form a fan club around you.
What’s been your experience in terms of building relationships through blogs?
Mohsin writes at Blogging Bits.