How Does a Blog Fit into All of This?
Once upon a blogosphere, people on the web connected and talked through text, audio, and video, linking from blog to blog. That linking made a community of people who were related by content and conversations on those same blogs.
Then about 4 years ago, the blogosphere got interested in social media tools. Microblogs and social networks were new ways to reach out, connect, and talk. The blogosphere was evolving …
- As the blogosphere grew up, some members stood out. They were fluent, proficient, had abilities as practitioners and teachers. Their subscriber lists grew faster. Their voices were heard first and sounded louder. People started looking up to them. Smaller groups formed around what they said.
- As the blogosphere grew out, some members built new tools, new sites, and new communities. The businesses offered new things to do, new places to meet, to ways to interact. People looked out for others who even more like themselves. We had new choices. The larger community split off into more like-minded groups.
The effect has been that the community has diversified into smaller groups and spread out. The conversation is bigger, but it’s no longer concentrated on our blogs. The new sites and communities, the speed, mobility, and breadth of the tools attracted even more people to the check out this social web community.
Some of these folks found that they could be a part without having a blog.
Millions of people are spending their time on the social sites. They will out their many profiles with a to Facebook or LinkedIn. The commitment is lower and requires less editing.
How does a blog fit into all of this?
Having a blog was a having a home in that community — a place people could visit, get to know you, engage with you and your ideas.
It still does.
In fact, a blog is even more foundational. Have you noticed how noisy the Internet is? When people visit our blogs they can come in from the huge noise of the larger conversation stream. A blog can offer a respite. They get room to breathe and a chance to share a larger thought. But it’s time to step back, think strategically, and adapt to how people act now. Habits have changed.
According to PostRank study from 2007 to 2009 which followed 1000 of the most engaging feeds, they found:
- 30% more people are engaging in the social web
- less than 50% of that engagement is happening on blogs … it’s moved to social sites.
- trackbacks linking blogs have dropped from 19% to 3%
- Twitter, Friendfeed, and Facebook and other social sites have gone up from less than 1% to over 29%
- Blog posts have a longer life-span. In 2007, 98% of the engagement occurred in the first HOUR. In 2009, only 36% of the engagement takes place in the first DAY.
Unless you’ve just started blogging, you’ve probably noticed some of that — fewer visitors than last year, how the conversation has moved away from the comment box to the social sites. But you might have missed how quickly more people are coming or that our post are lasting longer and reaching farther.
That calls for a serious new strategy as the Blogosphere evolves into the Social Web.
A 12-Step Strategy to Fit Your Blog into the Social Web
Your blog numbers might be down, but the engagement in what you do and think could be growing exponentially. The bloggers and blogs that do well offer outstanding and meaningful content that is in tune with where folks engage naturally and easy to read and share with their friends.
Here are 12 Steps to consider to refit your blog to the Social Web.
- Mark your place … Find the tools you need to measure where your blog is today. Some include: Google Analytics, Woopra, Quantcast.com, Alexa.com, Technorati.com PostRankAnalytics,and Compete.com Identify and track information so that you have a historical marker.
- Do Reconnaissance … Use the tools and study conditions to find where your main audience spends their time. Look beyond Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Find the niches. Learn their habits. Starter tools include: Google Alerts, Search.twitter.com, addictomatic.com, and topsy.com Internet’s Largest Twitter Tools Resource List.
- Watch, Listen, and Make Alliances … Be constantly aware of what other people are doing. Ask for help. Turn great conversations into content. Invite savvy bloggers to write guest posts on topics they know more about.
- Clarify Your Identity / Message … Who are you and what do you talk about? In this fast-paced trust economy, people want to instantly who you are. Design and content need to say who you are. Does your design look like everyone else’s? Content is the main context of your web identity. It establishes your authority and your expertise. Google loves new content to index. People love new ideas.
- Define a Consistent Workable Plan … Identify 4-8 key niche topics you’ll write about and 4-8 types of blog posts you favor. You might make a blank monthly grid with the types across the top and the topics down the side. Even a loose plan — one that allows you to respond to new ideas and unexpected events in your area of expertise — will make the blogging work more predictable to you and more accessible to your readers.
- Use Best Practices … Save time by brainstorming several ideas first and later writing several drafts at one time. Then, you’ll have “almost ready” blog posts captured when you need them. Link out, cite, and promote others at least 6 times more than you promote your own work. Understand when sharing your work is passing on value and when it’s being a pain.
- Test Constantly … When and where will you publish? How often? Which days? Which time of day works for your audience? Should it be more or less than one a day?
- Mind the Details … Write outstanding headlines over outstanding content. Take more time than ever before making sure your ideas are sound and attractive. Target them to your niche. Loyal fans will see, read, and share.
- Network and Connect … Plan time at social sites and commenting on other blogs. Divide that time between people who do what you do and your ideal customers. Start conversations online and off. Be interested and interesting. Look for reasons to offer a hand.
- Innovate New Forms … Try a “Twitter trackback.” When you reply to a reader’s comment, take the link back to him or her. A quick tweet saying, @ReaderX I answered your great comment [link] promotes the reader as well as your reply.
- Feed the Content Community … Write content and answer questions wherever your readers are. Engage people where they are. Don’t hide all of your ideas and expertise on your blog. As Google starts indexing more social sites, this can only work better and better.
- Invite People Home … Constantly add resources and repackage content to readers to explore your archives again. When it’s appropriate, invite people back to see other things you’ve written or to make sure they don’t miss something they’ve said they need.
Having a blog is even more important now that the blogosphere is evolving into the Social Web. Blogs still offer the place where we can “go deep,” expressing thoughts with clarity and conviction, where we can talk and engage under our own terms of service. A power strategy can leverage your blog to grow your web presence, your business, and your brand.
What other strategies are you using to fit your blog into the Social Web?
–ME “Liz” Strauss
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