~ By Jennifer Chait
You, your readers, comments, e-mails, newsletters, and guest bloggers all contribute to a blog community. Blog communities obviously allow for discussion, opinions, arguments, and friendships. How you perform as the community leader, affects how your community behaves. As the leader of your blog, you need to prove that you’re not simply leading the group, but that you’re also a member of the group. You can learn to lead people; that’s not too difficult. What’s harder, and more important, is how you actually fit in with the group as you lead – the fine balance.
Contribute To the Group
As a blogger, you contribute ideas in post form. You should also contribute ideas, suggestions, advice, questions, and support via the comments.
Always welcome new readers to your blog community. Hopefully, this will encourage them to become returning members. Don’t forget to acknowledge your returning member; they deserve as much attention as new visitors. This can be as simple as saying, “Hi, great comment about….. such and such.”
Speak Like the Group
Use language, jargon, and other terms related to your blog’s niche correctly. If you’re not sticking with the language your readers expect and understand then you’re not a successful part of the group.
Provide Group Comfort
Know the boundaries of what your group can take. You need to be aware of what your community is comfortable with. Once the comfort line is crossed, as the leader, you need to take action. That may be deleting a negative comment, or banning an always-rude reader from commenting.
Be a Follower
Follow your visitors leads about which issues matter. Say you write a pet blog. Over half your readers comment about dogs regularly. Don’t make 85% of your posts and response comments about fish. Listen to what’s hot among your readers, to better fit into the group.
Great leaders do offer new ideas. However, group leaders do not veer too far off the map. If you talk about topics that are not useful to your community of readers, your community will break down, change, or readers will flat-out leave. Surprises are fine. Just meet the general expectations your readers have come to expect. An example: You write a longtime cooking blog. Suddenly you start posting movie reviews often – that’s too unexpected.
Real group members take sides. If you say that you agree with every reader comment, even when you don’t, you’ll seem fake. Communities always have divisions. It’s fine to choose sides as the leader. In fact, effective leaders almost always take a position.
What else can you do to fit in with your blogging community, as you still allow yourself to shine as the community leader?
Oh, off topic, I have a shiny new blog, Slices of Green. If you enjoy the sparkling, pretty side of green living (ideas for your home), you’ll like it.