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Blogging has become a popular hobby and a business necessity for traffic generation while also serving as an easy platform for adding regular content updates to your website. This, in turn, generates additional SEO equity. Even popular amateur bloggers can monetise their efforts by attracting a loyal Audience – some of the original blogging pioneers are now social media millionaires, earning north of six figures per year to work with brands and post content on their blog.
With blogging popularity at an all-time high, how can you stand out from the crowd and keep breathing life into your content? How can you communicate with your audience to keep them coming back?
Here are some approaches worth considering:
Inspiring audience interaction
Many blogging styles are broadcast orientated. The tone of the content is very much a static post or statements. While this audience passive style suits many and piggybacks the journalist style approach many strive for with their blog writing, it doesn’t invite the audience to engage.
Try adding in posts which are open questions to your audience. Present two or more points of view or opinions on a subject and ask your audience to fill in the gaps or add their take on the subject. Openly and directly request their feedback and interaction by asking readers to comment or pose a direct question off the back of your content. This approach turns your blog into more of a community, rather than a simply one-way source of broadcast content.
Another way to inspire audience interaction is with polls and surveys. Capitalise on your audience community feel by gathering their thoughts on various subjects. Adding a poll is easily done via a number of free poll widgets from the likes of WordPress.
“Zazzle: a platform for makers and designers to launch and sell custom products without having to produce them themselves.”
Zazzle is a highly interactive blog because of its images and stories from real-life customers. People can see a lively range of designs that have been produced on Zazzle, stats that explain the company’s impact, and the stories from each of these designers. This certainly creates more of a community feel.
Gamification sounds complex but it can be very simple with a little creativity. Gamification essentially is the process of adding game-like mechanics or interactions into something which is not fundamentally game based. So you can ‘gamify’ pretty much anything.
Contest gamification is an obvious one to consider, and this works really well when it comes to providing depth to your reader offering. The idea of winning something or earning something real brings your online blog into the physical world, almost like bringing the blog from digital into reality. Contests are also excellent traffic drivers, particularly when promoted via social platforms as they inspire a high level of user engagement.
Example: Code academy
“Code Academy is an awesome website that’s designed to help people learn how to code everything from basic HTML to PHP.”
They managed to keep people involved in learning how to code by implementing gamification into their website. Small badges and achievements will be given to you as you are progressing through the lessons. You will also be rewarded every time you come back to their website. These simple adjustments have made a big difference in keeping users motivated.
Example: TravelWise Tracker
“TravelWise Tracker is a cool website that helps people combat pollution. Instead of driving your car everywhere you can earn points by logging in all of your energy conserving trips like carpooling, walking, biking or using the transit”
TravelWise Tracker has similar features as Code Academy. They reward participants with badges when finishing an eco-friendly task. They are yet taking this gamification further by adding competition within groups. The competitiveness combined with the easy-use layout makes users want to come back to their website.
Using audience contributed content
There is a cheeky side benefit to applying audience interaction and gamification strategies to your blog. It’s also easy to integrate if you’re clever with your gamification approach, for example, if there is a part of the game requiring ‘contestants’ to submit something. A photo, a video, something they’re written, it can be anything. Use this content to create new blog posts. Update your audience on the status of the contest for example, select finalists and even get your audience to interact and help choose the overall winner.
The same goes for other audience interactions and the previously mentioned poll widget option. Present the results back to your audience. Ultimately using your audience and their interactions and engagements to help power future posts can breathe exciting new life into your blog. This will keep your blog content flowing and ensure you have content which is highly relevant and engaging for your readers.
“Giantnerd is a company that sells outdoor equipment for outdoor activities like hiking, biking and snowboarding.”
Using their own social platform “WikiNerdia”, customers ask questions about the company’s products and the nerd community answers these questions. This idea is brilliant because GiantNerd lets the customers sell for them and give advice, just by providing this interactive tool. Needless to say this Word of Mouth based strategy helps make customers heartily trust the brand. Using audience contributed content is a powerful tool for Customer Engagement.
Example: Whole Foods Market
“2013 was the year of social media customer service for Whole Foods Market . The company established a team dedicated to monitoring its social channels for customer questions, concerns, and praise.”
The company trained its employees to use social media on a local level so they could respond to customer service queries. This strategy helped Whole Food Market having a more personal connection with their respective shopper communities.
What tips do you use to keep your blog up to date and interesting for readers?
photo credit: Balloon Blowing via photopin (license)
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