As we all focus on search engine optimization, blogging, and social media… we tend to forget a very important element – Personality.
People want the real you (if they want you at all).
I’m not implying that we shouldn’t be professional and show subject matter expertise when we write, but is that it? There are millions of people talking about the same topics I talk about and probably yours too. Now that we know we aren’t the only ones talking about social media, how can we improve our blog communities by being ourselves?
1. Write down three important personal interests and put them in your bio.
Cheesy? Yes. Painful? Maybe. Useful? Definitely. If you’ve had a blog for more than six months and the three things you write down can’t be found in a post or in your About page, we’ve got a problem. If people take the time out of their days to read our ramblings, unless we’re THE thought leader in the industry crushing it with every single post… we’ve got to let them get to know us.
Three “personal” things about me influence a lot of what I write or talk about and have all served as conversation starters online and in person.
2. Write as if you are talking to your friends or colleagues.
I too get the Dictionary.com Word of the Day, but that doesn’t mean I need to use it in each post. The goal is to get people to take the time to read and hopefully follow a call to action (comment, subscribe, buy, download, etc.). Today the word is jnana. Do you know what that means? Do I look smart or intelligent for using that? Be conversational and serve your audience – if your audience knows jnana, you get brownie points.
3. Be passionate about things you believe in or are an advocate for.
Please understand that the tips and tricks to making a blog successful are important, but balance that with the fact that in less than 20 minutes… I can start a new blog talking about whatever I want. There is more noise than ever and to build a community, you must either serve a niche or build relationships – ideally both.
If you are motivated to write a post that evokes emotion, do it before you change your mind. To this date, my post with the most engagement (shares, comments, emails, direct messages, discussions, etc) is my most personal post. One that I debated writing. One that I reread four times before posting. One that I wrote at 3am. Passion and expertise differentiate.
4. Reply to comments and share, share, share.
If you receive a comment, take the time to respond – whether publicly or private. Reading and commenting takes time and to the best of my knowledge, we don’t yet have an infinite supply of that. Showing your community that you’re listening, processing, and thinking about what they say is extremely important.
Also, check out the blogs and tweets from your readers. Chris Brogan suggests that we should share 12 times as much as we self-promote on Twitter. Think about that before posting five tweets with different variations promoting that recent blog post. Reciprocity helps strengthen relationships.
5. Extend your reach and get away from the computer.
Since the beginning of time, human interaction has been extremely important. As we create more and more tools to facilitate this online, we forget that in-person interactions are still extremely beneficial. While I say that somewhat tongue-in-check, it is important to make those face-to-face connections when you can. It could be a customer a few miles away or a commenter attending the next industry conference you’re going to. Take the time to cultivate those relationships and you won’t have to tell them when you publish new blog posts… they’ll know. Be yourself and get out there and network.
The benefit of being yourself…
I’ll be the first to admit that most of these tips are not revolutionary or ground-breaking. Often times, the simple things are the ones we neglect. Personal branding is extremely important, but if your personal brand is simply a professional façade with none of the things that set you apart… you’ll just continue to be an information hub. Think of your favorite blog and I’m confident you’ll know at least three things about the person writing it.
While this post isn’t about metrics, in my opinion, repeat visitors are more critical than first time visitors. Far too often, we choose to monitor “Visitors” because it is the largest number, but there are far more variables there. Keep a constant eye on your Repeat visitors and try to narrow the gap between your first time and repeat folks. The smaller that gap is, the stronger your community is and the more engagement you’ll see. Being yourself is the fastest way to get there.