Showing Interest in Your Community

By: Eden Hensley Photos by: Brooke Dennis for Alt Summit

In face-to-face encounters, body language and verbal clues give us an idea of whether or not someone is listening to us. If we are talking and those listening are leaning in towards us, they are interested in what we are saying. If we are talking and they are maintaining eye contact, they are genuinely interested.

In the online world, we cannot always tell whether a brand or a blogger we follow is interested in us. Yet, for a community to thrive, members need to know someone is listening. Members of our Alt community came together on Twitter for an #AltChat (hosted every Wednesday at 9AM PT/12PM ET) to discuss this very topic.

Here are ten techniques to encourage interaction and to convey to readers that you are indeed interested in them.

  1. "Be genuinely interested in them. Ask questions. Respond. Be present and engaged." -Erica of Aftcra: Crafted by American Hands
  2. "Respond to every real person authentically. Check out their blog/social media streams and comment." -Laura of The Museum Scout
  3. "I don't get a ton of comments, but when I get them I reply to everyone!" -Lisa of LISLI: The Journal
  4. "I really try to respond to every comment/tweet. Readers want that personal connection." -Alyssa of The Sparkly Life
  5. "Actually take the TIME to see what they do and if they add a link check it out! And certainly gab back with them!" -Monica of Smart Creative Women
  6. If no one is responding to questions posed in your posts, try moving where you ask the question. "Sometimes just pointing it out (people skim) makes a difference!" - Adrienne of Susie Makes Supper
  7. "Comment back; find them where they are elsewhere online and engage. My reality is that my readers don't comment much, so I need to show interest with them on social channels." -Sport of Meanest Look
  8. Never assume a conversation has not started simply because a post remains commentless: "The conversation has totally shifted to social from the comments section (Heidi of Hands Occupied)." "Now it's spread out over Twitter, Instagram, etc. I miss the comments. (Laurel of A Bubbly Life)."
  9. "Social media interactions can be like a high school crush." - Christen of The Broke-Ass Bride
  10. "I love the survey! You have to embrace it." -Laicie of A Thousand Threads

Do you use any of these techniques? How do you engage your community?

Grow Your Blog Audience

By: Kelly Beall. Image: K.C. Alfred / San Diego Union Tribune.

You've chosen your blog's awesomely catchy name, you have a cool design you love, you've been posting for a few months and now what? Growing your audience of course! Now brace yourself for what I have to say next, there's no one right way to build your readership. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but there's no magic formula because each site's readership varies in every possible way. What works for Design Crush might not work for your site, but I prefer to liken this side of blogging to a science experiment – a little of this, a little of that, record the results. And if the outcome isn't awesome enough back to the drawing board! No harm, no foul.

Social media is definitely a big part of the formula you should be using to achieve success. I love this article full of Social Media Dos and Don'ts by some of your favorite bloggers. (Psst... if you don't have a Twitter account or Facebook page dedicated to your site I suggest you set one up. Now.)

Install Google Analytics and pay attention to what it's telling you. Here are the Top 7 Google Metrics to Monitor.

Write about topics that are already hot. They're popular for a reason and consulting Google Trends is a fantastic place to start.

Your post's title is the first thing a potential reader sees, learn how to write Magnetic Headlines to pull people in from the get-go.

Get to Know Your Readers! Finding out what they want will only contribute to your success.

Plan ahead using something like this free printable blog planner. It will help you stay true to both your site and your ultimate plan (mwahahaha).

Want more? Be sure to sign up for Kelly's class, Expanding Your Audience, on Alt Channel later this month!