We’re frequently asked about our secrets for creating a healthy, thriving active blog community. We’ve heard comments like:
- It’s a blogger’s dream – alive!
- You have some of the most active conversations around.
- How are you creating such dynamic discussion?
Anyone can have what we have. There is no magic secret. All it takes to create a thriving community is some time, some socialization with readers, some personality and some interaction.
Harry and I have a background in forum moderation, and we firmly believe this foundation set the stage for proper handling of a comment section. A question required a response. A comment required attention. A joke instigated a reaction. We were active and present at all times, often far into the wee hours of the morning.
Some bloggers tend to let the comments pile up and then zoom in for a quick catch-all before zooming away to never return. That doesn’t happen on our blog. People know that we’re responsive and that if they post a question or a comment that deserves an immediate answer, they get it.
Taking to the walls isn’t a good feeling. Neither is the sense that you’re completely alone in a crowd of people. Everyone – even those that disagree or that instigate flame wars – deserves acknowledgment. That’s why we answer every comment we receive. Every single one. People know that when they comment on our blog, someone will answer.
Not only will someone always acknowledge a comment, someone will always provide personal attention. It’s a good feeling to have a blog owner single you out and respond to your comment personally with a customized answer that shows they’ve listened and heard what you have to say.
We’ve tried to go the purely professional route. It doesn’t work. It’s also silly. Everyone – including us – is just regular people at the end of the day. We don’t wear suits 24/7 and we have personality to fit with who we are. Readers and commentators can relate to us by feeling that we’re just regular joes. Nothing wrong with that.
Showing personality in our posts and in our comment section makes a huge different in how people feel about us. They know that we’re just one of the gang – we’re equals. We don’t come off as the untouchable big blog owner with minions of fans. We’re guys with a blog and we aren’t big shots who lord over the followers that come.
Everyone likes to have fun. We all like entertainment and a break from the day’s seriousness. It’s common to see Harry and I poking fun at each other or sharing “inside” jokes that everyone gets. We goof off. We play. We go off topic and let down the serious side. People like that. We like it too, and the whole ambiance is relaxed.
We show personality, we goof off, but we also know where to draw the line. We remain professional and we don’t share intimate details. We share some of our personal life with readers, but we don’t drop our pants and let it all hang out. We know where our job and our blog ends and where our personal life begins.
When people ask questions, we answer. When people need help, we do what we can. When people struggle, we offer our insight. As forum moderators, we offered support, help and advice at all times. We carried that forward to our blog. We try to offer help with our posts, and we bring that support into our comment section – even if it’s just to empathize with someone having a bad day.
When our commentators speak up about the functionality and user-friendliness of our blog, we respond. If our commentators remark on an ugly submit button (that now looks slick) or a too-wide column (that now fits just right), we fix it. A small irritant important enough for our readers to mention is important enough for our attention.
While present in your blogging community, do your part to ensure that conversation remains respectful, polite and diplomatic. Have a comment policy. Nip nasty comments in the bud. Tug the reins when you see discussion getting out of hand. By showing that you won’t let flame-wars occur and that you aren’t a welcome mat to walk all over, your community learns your limits and operates within them.
Let people speak their minds. They come to your community to talk and debate, so allow people their voice to do so. Editing comments to remove negative feedback isn’t smart. Negative feedback offers the opportunity to display your credibility or work on areas that need improvement. Handling debate properly to turn it into a positive experience for all involved lets you grow and gain more readers.
Be Easy to Use
The more red tape to comment, the less comments you’ll have. People like one-click action and the easiest road. If you set up captchas, logins and registrations, your commentators become frustrated and stop participating in discussions. Likewise, offer full feeds over partial and provide a “subscribe to comments” plugin so that everyone stays in the loop.
Bonus Tip! Be Neutral
Harry and I each have our own personal views, values and morals. We have beliefs and political stances. We’re pro- this and anti- that. But we keep all this “off the boards”, to use an old moderator term. We also respect everyone else’s views, choices and opinions if they share theirs. We’re polite, we’re diplomatic, and we remember that manners matter online.
Now that you know our “secrets” to a thriving blog community, step into your own blog comment section and be active, real and present. But don’t forget – you still have to work on bringing people over to your appealing, welcoming atmosphere