Many digital marketing programs focus on acquiring brand advocates, and for good reason. The average social customer has 130 Facebook friends, so even a single social media mention can carry significant reach. Studies have shown that brand advocates are 83% more likely to share information than the average internet user, and that 54% of advocates view information-sharing as a form of relaxation. As a blogger, gaining a devoted readership and turning those readers into advocates is a crucial component to gaining traction with your personal brand and blog. And, one of the best ways to build enthusiasm, interest and loyal readers is to directly engage with your audience in ways that make them feel seen, valued and appreciated.
Traditionally, many blogs have relied on the idea of a product giveaway to entice readers to leave comments, drive social mentions and drive new traffic. However, giveaways, while a great way to build relationships with willing brands and give your readers a few new goodies, can also result in “give-away seeker” traffic that may not bring you the kind of target audience you are looking for, the kind that sticks around when there isn't something to win. So, what are the other options?
Why not dedicate a corner of your blog to highlighting your amazing readers? Whether you request outfit photos, “what's in your purse,” favorite fashion memories, or do a full-blown Q&A-style interview, creating space where you celebrate your readers not only give you great content, but you can promote this content through social media and your featured reader will do the same across her networks. How can you involve your readers in your blog content?
Even though you likely have blog readers from all over the world, why not schedule a monthly meet-up with blog readers in your local area. You can go thrift-store shopping, have a picnic, or check out a new boutique opening. By giving your readers the chance to connect with you in-person, you provide an element of access and connection that is rare, and always welcome. If you are a world-traveler, set up coffee dates with readers in that area. Is there an upcoming event you could invite your readers to attend?
In addition to in-person events, a recurring open forum using Google Hangouts, Spreecast or a free conference call is a great way to answer reader questions, share your latest news, and allow your readers to get to know one another a bit better. From the comfort of your own home, you can break the barrier between the written word and virtual connection to build rapport and learn what's on your readers' minds. How might you set up and structure a virtual event?
Thank You Notes
Each time you receive a particularly kind comment or social mention, reach out via email with a heartfelt thank you. Going above and beyond will surprise and delight the recipient, and is a great way to cement a loyal reader. Much in the way that you leave blog comments and write notes to those you admire, and equally effective strategy is to communicate your gratitude to those who do the same for you. Who are three people who would love to get a note from you?
Advocates for your blog are not only interested in building a stronger connection with you, they enjoy being helpful and introducing others to their favorite blogs. Give them the opportunity to do so by providing multiple ways to help spread the word about your blog while soliciting their opinions and experiences and integrating them into your content and promotional strategy.
How do you build relationships with your audience?
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