Note: This article series is based on a presentation I gave at New Media Expo 2014.
Community is a word you hear a lot in the world of blogging, but unfortunately, many people don't follow up by talking about what they mean by the word “community,” why you should have one, or even how to build one. Recently, I gave a presentation on community building at New Media Expo in Las Vegas (formerly BlogWorld), and I thought it might be good to share my talk with the IFB community as well. We'll start by discussing what exactly a blog community is.
First of all, you community doesn't consist of everyone who visits your blog.
A member of your blog's community is more than a casual or occasional visitor. We're not talking page views and stats here. Community members are people who really “get” what you have to say and what your blog is about. They understand your site. They're passionate about it. And they're supportive of it (as in believing in your blog's mission, not necessarily supportive as in sending you Paypal donations).
Often, this belief and support comes from your site not only filling a particular niche or need (one that resonates with your particular community), but also from your personal brand, i.e. people's ability to relate to you as the face and name of your blog. In a way, you're your blog's first community member. What you say and do on your site should reflect the sort of community you're hoping to build.
For example, my site, The Lingerie Addict, focuses on the world of lingerie from a fashion and society perspective. I try to talk about undergarments in the same way other bloggers and industry writers discuss fashion, beauty, and accessories. TLA is a site for people who truly enjoy lingerie and love learning more about it…every aspect of it. We don't dedicate a lot of “ink” to the practical side of lingerie (for example, lots of articles on shapewear), but that's okay because we're not trying to appeal to every single person with a casual interest in lingerie. I want readers who are interested in more than just the practical. When you're thinking about building your own blog community, ask yourself who you want to reach and why because that will be the core of your community building efforts and the statement you turn to again and again.
The other important element of a community is that it exists even when you're not directly around and contributing to it.
The easiest example of this is popular web-forums. Even if the forum creator or manager isn't around, a good forum will always have various conversations happening among its members. The same is true for a good blog community. That community will have conversations of its in your blog comments, on your social media channels, or even on other sites and forums about your site. Even if you're not seeing that kind of activity yet, that's okay. It doesn't mean you have a “bad” community, just one that's not fully developed yet. And you're not alone…many bloggers are in the exact same place in their community-building efforts.
Here is a good place to stop until next week where I'll talk about myths around community building as well a few things your community actually needs. When it comes to blogging and building a blog community, what qualities do you believe a good community has?
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