How to Bring Conversation to your Blog [WordPress Weekend]

2010 has begun and we would first like to thank you all for the love/insights you have showered on us. This is our first article of 2010 and is an attempt to help fellow entrepreneurs/bloggers to bring in more insights/conversations to their websites. If you have a blog, you need an audience and chances are that even though your content is great, you aren’t getting community love. The reader engagement isn’t happening at the rate you expected it to. In order to bring lively conversation, the first and foremost part is to bring in great content, one that is original and throws perspective/insight on the topic.
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2010 has begun and we would first like to thank you all for the love/insights you have showered on us during the last few years.

This is our first article of 2010 and is an attempt to help fellow entrepreneurs/bloggers to bring in more insights/conversations to their websites.

If you have a blog, you need an audience and chances are that even though your content is great, you aren’t getting community love. The reader engagement isn’t happening at the rate you expect it to.

In order to bring lively conversation, the first and foremost part is to bring in great content, one that is original and throws perspective/insight on the topic.

But what after that?

Here are a few plugins and tactics to help you increase reader engagement:

Email/Enable Sharing

Email is the most used mechanism to share content (read: Sharing Happens at Facebook, Twitter is Least Engaging Share Platform [Report]) and you must enable email/social bookmarking to your site.

Your content needs to be distributable and one must enable email sharing on the website. There are tons of plugins available on the web (sharethis/addthis etc), but it’s strongly recommended that you have a clear ‘Email this’ link – it’s a simple ‘call to action’ feature that follows ‘don’t make me think’ principle (with widgets, you expect them to first click on the widget and then figure out the ‘Email’ link]

For wordpress blogs, WP-Email is the most useful plugin, but if you aren’t a geek enough to install this, use sharethis or addthis plugin.

And ofcourse, you need to have social bookmarking services enabled, but none of them substitute for email sharing.

understanding user engagement
understanding user engagement

Subscribe to Comments

Your blog needs to reach out to readers and those who have shared comments are the ones who have already shown the first level of engagement. Given them an easy way to follow up with others comments, without coming back to the site.

Use Subscribe to Comments plugin to achieve this result.

Community Submitted News

Got a blog where you aren’t able to put up a lot of posts? Well, use your community to bring in relevant content.

Community Submitted News plugin lets your users submit articles to your site. The plugin lets you allow your readers to add articles to your site and ofcourse, all the articles are moderated before publishing.

Also check out Community News Plugin that enables your blog readers to add news/site url/content to the site.

Bring the element of debate/discussion

Most important part about user engagement is to build a platform for them to discuss ‘stuff’ and threaded replies do enable such engagement.

If your blog theme doesn’t support threaded comments, install Intense Debate or Disqus plugins.  They can significantly increase user engagement.

Social Toolbars

IF you want to build a facebook community, or let people easily share content via the toolbars, there are quite a few of them available for wordpress blogs.

Notable ones include – Meebo bar, Wibiya and Audiencc (helps build interactive mobile site).

Keep an eye on most active readers

If you have been a regular reader of Pluggd.in, you must have noticed the different/varied guest posts that we publish (articles shared by entrepreneurs as well as investor community). The key is to keep an eye on the most active readers/commentors and reach out to them and offer your platform to them.

Keep an eye on those who share loads of insights on your blog – they are essentially looking for a platform to share their knowledge and if you aren’t going to provide them that, they might as well ditch you in the long run.

Have a Commenting Policy (for the trollers)

Blogs democratize commenting and sometimes you might get a lot of fake comments or trolls. You need to have a tough policy for this, ‘coz the regular readers will get turned off if they keep seeing element of negativity (i.e. trollers) on the blog.

Strongly recommended that you publish your commenting policy (we have one) and act on people who violate that. Helps in keeping the sanity of the blog and keeps the focus on content.

Moreover, using comment rating systems (be it from disqus/intense debate or other plugins) will also help in rewarding users who are sharing their insights with you.

Showcase Great Comments

You are lucky if readers of your blog shower you with great insights on the comment section. Give them the power to mark insightful comments as featured and have these featured comments showcased on your blog.

Use Best of Comments plugin to achieve this purpose (enables administrators to edit comments and mark them as featured). One can also use comment rating systems to showcase the most rated comment.

Another plugin to showcase active discussion is BT-Active Discussion that displays comments in a forum format.

Facebook Connect

Enable FB connect (plugin) on the comment section. Readers who leave a comment can also post the same to his facebook account, enabling the comment/post to get more visibility. It’s the most cost effective way to reach out to social networks.

Open yourself

If you really want reader engagement, you need to first engage with them, find out what matters to them. Do you enable readers to contact you directly? I have seen many bloggers not having a ‘contact’ page and while that’s fine for privacy purpose, you can atleast have a contact form.

What’s your recommendation?

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