Community, Loyalty and the Power of Give

DSC_0641Last night on Twitter, I was part of the #sbt10 chat, part of the Start Blogging Today project (disclosure – I’m a partner in the project). As usual, there were a ton of great topics discussed on how to make your blog work better for you.

One of the conversations that arose was how to reward loyalty – i.e., how to make sure that your blog community knows you appreciate them.

Michael Schechter asked how you’d go about that, and I suggested exclusive content as one option (similar to what I did with my free Facebook marketing ebook).

Of course, that approach on a blog would mean that to really benefit from exclusive content, your readers/community would have to be subscribed to a newsletter or email subscription. Which would then negate the rest of your readers that don’t subscribe this way, but still show loyalty by coming back time and again.

So what ways could you reward on your blog, for both subscribers and everyday visitors/readers?

Loving Your Blog Community

Face it, without a community a blog is nothing more than a broadcast platform. Your community nurtures the growth of your blog; it helps share with others; it defends if needed; and it keeps you growing as a blogger by sharing great insights in the comments.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal blog or more business-oriented – community is the real king (sorry, content lovers). For business blogs, community is the relationship to the sale – look after it and look after your business.

So what are some of the ways to reward a loyal blog community?

Exclusive Content

As I mentioned earlier in the post, this would normally be via a newsletter or email subscription, so may negate some of your readers (although it’s a great way to build an even more loyal community on subscription too). Some of the things you could offer could be:

  • A free ebook;
  • White papers;
  • Solid business advice not normally seen on your blog;
  • Discounted offers on affiliate programs.

There’s a lot you can make exclusive to really say “thanks for being part of my community”. You’ll have a better idea of what would appeal to yours – all you need to do is put that into action.

The Freemium Model

Because exclusive content needs an exclusive outlet to really make it work, you run the risk of excluding the readers that visit every day, comment and are as just as important a part of your community as subscribers.

So how do you make sure that you’re not ignoring them and focusing on your exclusive content?

  • Episodic content. This can work in two ways. You can either write a series of educational posts on topics your readers would find useful, or you can offer the first chapter of any ebooks that exclusive content subscribers receive. That way, “normal readers” still receive value and can decide whether to expand into the subscription option.
  • Actionable content. Want to be seen as a thought leader or serious blogger in your space? Then offer action points that anyone visiting your blog can take away and make work for them. John Haydon does this all the time for Facebook strategies, while CopyBlogger offers solid tips on writing for search engines. Help others; help you.
  • Highlight your community. Another way to reward your community is to give them some reader love. By coming to your blog every day and commenting or sharing you, your community is helping you grow awareness of you. So do the same for them. Have them guest post on your blog, or post about someone from your community frequently. We all like to feel appreciated; make sure your blog community knows you appreciate them.

Protecting Your Community

Growing your blog community is the first part; but it doesn’t stop there. Just as your community nurtures you and helps you, so you need to do the same in return, but take it to an extra level – by protecting them.

Think about it – if someone’s taking the time out of their life and schedule to read and share their thoughts on your blog, the very least you should be doing is making sure it’s somewhere that they want to hang out, and feel comfortable doing so.

  • Make it clear you won’t tolerate abuse to your community. One of the best things about any blog is the comments section – so many great thoughts and ideas can come from here, and new friendships can be made. So making it a safe haven is paramount – protect your commenters, protect your blog.
  • Have a comment policy. Currently I don’t have one, purely because I’ve been really fortunate in having commenters who pretty much respect each other’s point of view. But it’s an idea I’m thinking of, and it can help you set both guidelines for new visitors, as well as assure your current community you have their best interests at heart. Ari Herzog has an excellent example of how a blog comment policy could look.

These are just some examples of how you can use your blog to reward the people that make it what it is. There are a ton of other things you could do (and we discuss a bunch of them over in the Start Blogging Today forums).

You could use some of them; you could use all of them – the main thing is you’re at least doing something to reward your blog community.

After all, they reward you just by stopping by each time – thanking and looking after them is the least you can do, no?

Creative Commons License photo credit: jammcm
Creative Commons License photo credit: Kelly Schott

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