Back in 2010, Tom and Caroline and myself (Yvonne) wrote a series of posts about engagement and comments on blogs. I thought I’d update and recap a bit today, since this is a prime issue with all bloggers. It’s true we blog because we must – there is an inner desire to share and communicate with our own kind – but we don’t want to do it in a vacuum. We aren’t blogging to hear ourselves think!
The issue of comments and engagement has become even more important today. In those old days of 2010, we wanted to get noticed because we wanted the world to recognize us as passionate about pets. While that is still true today, there is another, sometimes bigger, reason for engagement and comments on a pet blog. Today, we want the world and many of the brands we buy to recognize that not only are we passionate about pets, we are also influential in a wider network of pet people. To achieve this goal, our blog and our social channels need to show engagement, not just talk about it.
With that in mind, here are 11 Surefire Ways to Build Engagement On Your Pet Blog, brought to you by brought to you by folks who study this on a daily basis:
- Share with your inner circle. Got a really fantastic, important post? Share it via email with a select group of your friends. “I just wrote a post on local shelters that go beyond the ordinary, and I wonder if you have thoughts to share on this topic.” Remember to thank people for their time, “Thanks for letting me share this with you today. Have a great one!” Don’t ASK for the comment. Let them comment at will.
- Leave a trail. Give them paw prints to follow you home. Since we started consulting on blogging and social media way back ’04, our biggest piece of advice to clients has been to spend half of the time you commit to blogging on other people’s blogs, reading and commenting. This overlaps Yvonne’s and Caroline’s advice so be sure to read their posts also.
- Pay attention to your posts that do get comments. Analyze what your readers said in their comments for clues as to what prompted them to leave a comment. Check out other blogs that get a lot of comments and analyze them, as well. Dr. V. at Pawcurious.com, for example, does a great job of presenting topics that inspire feedback and input from a broad audience.
- Include links to other people’s content in your post. Notice how that was accomplished in the previous tip? Don’t just link to them as a matter of fact, write a compelling phrase or sentence to explain what the person reading will get when they click over to the other content.
- Be original. Creativity can never be overemphasized. Follow in the steps of the Mentos guys. Add video to your blog; break out of your shell and share inspiring or educational content, be personable and friendly. Act as if you’re speaking to the reader as an individual. In all honesty, it’s true that it’s all been done before; it’s all been said before. Blah. Blah. Blah. The reality is, it hasn’t been said or done by YOU. You are unique in the Universe, and your spin or your story is going to resonate with a particular audience, whereas mine may not.
- Leave a smile. By this I mean leave a picture of your smilin’ face, or Fido/Fluffy’s furry one, as an avatar alongside your comment. The tools and steps required vary with the blog hosting platform and plugins used by individual bloggers. But it is well worth your time to be on the lookout for them and learn to take advantage. Your comments will stand out and get noticed, making it that much more likely you’ll get “trailed” back to your blog. (plus, people will recognize you when you come to your next BlogPaws Event…like this June, in Phoenix!)
- Interview someone. It doesn’t have to be a celebrity (but it could be). A pet pal is fine. Find out what makes their blog tick and why they write it. They will share with their friends, and probably start the comment thread on your blog. Make sure you visit their blog post about the interview and thank them.
- When sharing on social, be provocative…just as the title of your post needs to pull people in, your twitter mention or Facebook link needs to compel people. We do Boosts and Shares on the BlogPaws Facebook page, and while those are simple and easy, it’s a good practice to understand what keywords trigger reactions in your audience. You want to be using the content they care about and want to react to.
- Be consistent. Not only is it necessary to write on a regular basis, so people know what to expect and when to expect it, it’s necessary to have a focus. What are you conveying and why? If your blog is all over the place, folks will be confused and rarely make second or third visits, unless you happen to pop up in someone’s social feed someday. If you haven’t found your niche yet, experiment with one or two, three at most, and see where it takes you.
- “Names, names, names.” Write about people, especially other bloggers. Mention names. Link to their blogs. If you know them, give them a heads up email. Who can resist visiting to see what you wrote about them? The “names, names, names” heading comes from a story told in Chip and Dan Heath’s book, Made to Stick, about the editor of a small, local newspaper who told his staff the 3 most important things in the paper were names, names, names. The same logic applies to your blog.
- Teach and Learn. That’s right. Teach your readers something and share something they taught you. Following #10, this goes to being personal and approachable. It goes to showing that you aren’t pompous and you are open to learning from others. It sets you up as an influencer who cares about the network she is building. To accomplish one half of this, the teach part, you could create a short 1 or 2 page ebook/whitepaper about your expertise, and offer it in your sidebar. To accomplish the other half, you could attend a webinar by a close blogger friend and share your experiences in your next blog post.
I hope this list encourages you. I hope you found some nugget of truth. I also know there are dozens of other ways to attract attention, gather comments, and generate engagement. Share your best tip in the comments below. You will likely help someone else along the way by doing so. It could be me.
Yvonne DiVita is a Co-Founder of BlogPaws. She is dedicated to storytelling and the human-animal bond. When not working on BlogPaws, she writes at Scratchings and Sniffings and The Lipsticking Society. You may contact her at Yvonne@blogpaws.com .