Building a community around your blog: Part 1

If you want your company to be known as an expert online you need to earn attention and credibility among the folks you want to engage with. The best way to do that is to start a blog – packed with relevant, compelling information that demonstrates passion and a unique point of view about your chosen subject.

OK, check. Now what. How do you actually get someone to notice what you have to say? Answer: by using a mix of social media tools that help you let them know that you’re out there.

The tools you use will depend on the nature of your subject matter and the people you want to engage with. Plus remember, social is exactly that. Succeeding in social media isn’t about a one-way broadcast of your stuff, it’s about participating in an on-going conversation that’s already occurring.

How social works

Imagine a hundred people sitting in a circle. Everyone is interested in the subject matter you happen to be passionate about and expert in but they have no idea who you are or what you know. There’s an empty chair. You sit down. The rules are that everyone has the ability to raise their hand and speak. You raise your hand. Maybe your immediate neighbor listens to what you have to say but nobody else pays attention.

So you talk to your neighbor. If you’re interesting they’ll listen and perhaps even agree or disagree with what you have to say.

Then you both stop talking to listen to someone else. You have a point of view about it so you respond to them. Then you spend a little time thinking about their point and expanding on it in your head.

More people now turn to listen to you. You’re funny and smart. They laugh and all of them respond. They tell other people about you. Perhaps they take your point and expand on it themselves (always giving you proper credit of course).

Gradually more and more of the circle become aware of you. You get a reputation. Next time you raise your hand 30 people turn to you and listen. You have an audience. You’re a thought-leader. You’ve earned attention and you’re well on your way to becoming a leader in your chosen field.

So how does this work in the real (or at least virtual) world. What is the social media equivalent of raising your hand?

The trick is to discover where our metaphorical circle of 100 people is currently congregating online. There are two good places to start looking. The first is the ‘big three’ social network sites. The second is the leading blogs in the subject-matter areas you’re interested in.

1: Social Network Sites

First of all let’s take a look at the big 3 social networking sites that everyone is talking about right now”:

LinkedIn is a site best known as a place to post resumes, connect with business colleagues and build a network of professional contacts. Less known is that LinkedIn is host to thousands of groups that have been set up to serve participants in specific industries, or with specific interests or passions – including the one you’re expert in.

How to get involved?

Simply go to www.linkedin.com, set up a profile, click the Groups tab and see what’s there for your industry. Then apply to join. Once you’re accepted you have the ability to link to new posts on your blog and comment on what other people have to say. The more you comment (smartly), the quicker you’ll reap the rewards of people reading your own posts.

Twitter is fun. It’s also highly addictive (as most really fun things tend to be sadly) so beware! Twitter provides you with two important things:

  1. The ability to follow and be followed by other relevant Tweeters
  2. To post links to your blog posts preceded by a short explanation.

How to get involved?

First off, sign up at www.twitter.com.  Next download a good desktop Twitter ‘interface’ tool such Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a very intuitive way for to you keep tabs on what’s going on in the Twitosphere!

The underlying idea of Twitter is that you ‘follow’ people who are interesting and relevant to your subject matter expertise, and then they in turn follow you. This doesn’t happen automatically although many people will automatically do this as a matter of politeness (or to demonstrate that they ‘get Twitter’).

Then you start Tweeting. You have a total of 140 characters each time you tweet so be concise. If you have a new blog post let people know about it. Post regularly but not too often. And make sure you’re adding value each time. Make sure you’re also ‘retweeting’ other people’s posts. They’ll see that you’ve done that and think more highly of you as a result. Slowly but surely you’ll gain followers and each time you link to a new blog post they’ll click and your traffic will increase.

For me FB is more of a ‘friends and family’ platform but some people do use their profile page successfully to post links to business-oriented blog posts. Plus many companies have launched ‘fan pages’ where content that customers or ‘fans’ might be interested in can be posted.

How to get involved?

If you’re new to FB first of all where have you been? Simply go to www.facebook.com,  sign up and get busy setting up your profile.

The main goal of FB is to aggregate and communicate with ‘friends’. Once you’ve started doing that (the site makes that process pretty intuitive), you can simply provide a link to your new blog post as a status update or post it to your ‘wall’. This will show up in the News Feed that all of your friends will see. You can also email your friends within FB to let them know about things you’re doing and saying.

Part 2 tomorrow…

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