How to Keep Your Blog Readers Engaged
Is there a science behind running an engaging blog?
ProfNet recently asked this question during its #ConnectChat on Twitter. The guest was Clarissa Silva, a behavioral scientist, clinician, and founder of a relationship wellness blog with more than 2,000 comments.
During the chat, Silva explained how other bloggers can structure their blog to receive more shares, likes, comments, and other engagements. In addition, Silva provided dos and don’ts on engaging readers.
Read the chat recap here:
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a behavioral scientist and clinician with 16 years of experience in mental health, behavioral science, and public health. I created “You’re Just a Dumbass,” as a very tongue-in-cheek relationship wellness blog to help people select and maintain healthy relationships and avoid some of the difficult life lessons that one encounters in suboptimal relationships. On the blog, I share techniques that I developed to help clients with creating relationship wellness in their lives from 16 years of practice.
When did you start your blog, and what made you start it?
1.5 years ago I started the blog as a conversation with myself about my experiences and as a behavior modification model for anyone looking to establish healthy relationships. I wanted to create a place where people can go to affirm their experience or seek information to change a suboptimal situation they are in. I wanted to remove clinical barriers and provide any reader with public science.
Can you tell us more about how you’re using your background as a behavioral scientist to run your blog?
My blog is structured sequentially with two purposes: testing a book series and a therapeutic model that I re-engineered. Each post is a book chapter that is building on enhancing self esteem and relationship decision-making for the reader. It’s also a clinical model that reverses the therapeutic model. The solution is upfront and the reader works backwards to identify the core issue. Behind the blog I created an algorithm to guide content and the clinical model.
Can you tell us how you came up with this algorithm?
Week one I introduced the concepts I was going to talk about for the rest of the blog. Week two I began running the algorithm. By week three, my keyword searches were from week one’s posts and the blog became #1 across all of the search engines. Here is a tip: Use edgy titles on your posts. For months, the key search phrase came from week one.
What steps can a blogger take to structure their blog?
1) Create the conditions in each environment and measure the reaction. You can run a test and see results within 24 hours.
2) Once you have found the environment that gives you the most reaction, you create metrics that are based on your outcome. The metrics and outcomes could be comments, shares, likes, pluses. What matters to you most and where did it happen the most?
3) Test the same method on different platforms. If it’s the same outcome, you have created a formula that you can replicate. These different platforms can be Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc.
What types of tests can you do on these different social media platforms?
You can run tests on lengths of the post, time posting, how certain titles perform, your tone, and your message to create a formula. Run these tests from a few days to a week. The following week repeat the same format. Compare the reaction from both tests. Once you have enough data to support increased blog performance, what you have created is a standard tone and message.
How do you test tone in your blog?
I like creating a conversation with the reader. I want the reader to have a reaction: I want them to get angry, cry/give me feedback. It’s replicating the therapeutic model. Here are two comments I received on my blog:
1) “Damn you just made me cry, keep writing I so enjoy reading it.”-CK
2) “Thank you. This post came through to my email at the exact moment I needed it most. I just sat in a parking lot and cried.”-BD
Do you have any tips on how bloggers can create conversations with their readers?
Build on the previous post. If it’s a rant/experience, post a how to avoid ___ the next day. Invite guest bloggers to contribute to your site. They are eager to enhance brand recognition by cross-promoting your blog.
Do you have any don’ts when trying to engage your readers?
I am establishing a relationship with my readers based on trust, communication and honesty. That way anything I introduce to the readership is coming from a place of: you allowed me into your life or your decision-making process and I am not going to make recommendations that will alter that. Don’t endorse anything too early. Build your credibility and establish trust with your audience.
When commenting on someone else’s blog, don’t drop your link. It will get deleted. Instead, begin building relationships with fellow bloggers and journalists by leaving comments on other’s blogs/sites. In this way, not only are you building a relationship with other bloggers; you are also building a relationship with a portion of their audience. Once you establish trust with your audience, you are simultaneously establishing influence and credibility. When a blogger goes to a site and sees that you’ve listed your top bloggers or referenced your post, those new visitors will also click on those referenced sites.
Do you use any social media platforms to help build engagement on your blog? If so, which ones?
I prefer Google+ because it integrates all of your activities in one place, such as your blog, reviews, YouTube. I recommend getting authorship verified and doing g+ reviews because it increases your visibility across the search engine. Since I started on Google+ about 14 months ago, I have over 9,000 pluses, 3,000 shares, 4,000 comments on 700 posts with 8,250 followers.
What kind of benefits do you see from having high engagement with readers?
You are getting real-time feedback from your market while you are developing your product. It helps you establish credibility, authority and influence while you are cultivating the relationships with your target market. In this way, it’s an indicator of your product/concept/service’s performance in the market. It also doesn’t hurt that sponsors, partnerships, and enterprise also like that you get positive feedback.
Polina Opelbaum is a community services specialist with ProfNet, a service that helps connect journalists with expert sources. To read more from Polina, check out her blog on ProfNet Connect.