I’ve been noticing lately that so many really well designed blogs, that have awesome content, still lack an important crucial aspect….
Social proof and a sense of community!
It kinda got me thinking of the analogy of being invited to a party at the best looking house in your street. At first glance, it seems inviting because it’s well designed (just like many blogs).
Yet when you arrive and take a look around, you discover this house you admire actually has no guests. Right then and there you probably felt like going home (clicking off the page) but in the spirit of being a great guest, you decide to stick around for a few moments.
You then hear that this party did in fact have many guests, even though at the time you didn’t see any proof of their attendance…
In the blogging world, one of the fastest ways to increase loyalty is to build community. In order to build community, firstly you need social proof of the communities existence and secondly you need proof that you actively engage with your community. With all of the funky tools available today, it’s super simple to display your social proof through Retweet buttons, interactive commenting and community widgets that people can ‘join’, ‘like’, ‘friend’ etc.
I have to admit that when I started blogging, I totally missed the point on how important it was to ‘engage’ and build community. In fact I was so far off the mark with understanding how important this was, that I didn’t even reply to the few people who left comments!! It wasn’t until I became involved with the Empowered Tribe community that I realized the powerful relationship opportunities I was missing out on. Not to mention all the traffic I was literally ‘scaring’ away lol.
So lets get straight to the blogging tools that literally turned my blog around!
1. Google Friend Connect: If you don’t have this installed, you want to get it ASAP. It doesn’t matter how good looking your house is, if there are no ‘visible’ guests, people will be unlikely to come back. Installing this widget will not only add a sense of ‘community’ to your Blog, it will display ‘social proof’ that others value your site too.
2. Comment luv: This plugin is an awesome way to reward your readers for leaving a comment on your blog. Basically what it does is it auto-generates a featured link of the title of your commenters last blog post. I like to think of it as the ultimate reciprocity plugin!
3. WordPress Thread Comment: This little gem has completely revolutionized what was once one big nonsensical mess lol. If you’re like me, you don’t always reply to comments the day they are left. What happens then is when you do reply to a person, your comment just ends up on top of the last comment which might be from a completely different person. So basically the entire comment thread has no flow and doesn’t make sense. Well not once you install WP thread Comment plugin! Oh and if you’re wondering if you install it now will it ‘nest’ all of your current comments, the answer is yes. Quite ingenious really :) Update: Now included in the latest WordPress upgrade.
4. Linkwithin Widget: This one caught my eye one day when I came across a Blog post on Google while researching a particular topic. As I finished reading the article that had caught my attention, this funky little widget boldly suggested “You might also like this…” and displayed 5 visual thumbnails of other posts. Well the widget was right, I did also like some of the other blog posts! So instead of leaving the person’s blog after a few minutes, I left about half an hour later! What an incredible way to increase ‘stickiness’. You can grab your widget by clicking here.
Tip 1: For it to work effectively, it scans for pictures to produce the thumbnails so make sure you add pictures to every post before you install the widget.
Tip 2: When entering your details to grab the code, it will ask if you would like to display up to 5 thumbnails. Even if you don’t yet have 5 blog posts, choose the option for 5 anyway so that you don’t have to go back later and generate a new code as your blog posts grow.
5. Homepage Excerpts: You might have noticed that on a lot of blogs, each and every post is displayed on the home page in its entirety. There is nothing wrong with this but it does make it difficult for people to ‘scan’ your content to find another post that might be interesting to them. Once you install this plugin, you have the option to choose how many of your posts display in full on your home page. The rest will then convert into nice little tempting paragraphs which allow your reader to quickly scan and jump to the post that most interests them. Personally I like to have only my most recent blog post displayed in full and let ‘Linkwith’ & Homepage Excerpts work their magic :)
There are loads of amazing plugins and widgets out there that can add all kinds of incredible features and functionality to your blog. These are just 5 that I use to increase page views, encourage and reward comments and engagement and build community.
If you’ve found a plugin or funky widget thats made a big difference to your blog, leave me a comment as I love hearing about these cool little add ons :)
P.S. It goes without saying that Tweetmeme and Simple Facebook Share buttons are ‘must haves’ for content syndication!