Home Away from Home: Building Community OFF Your Blog

This is a guest post from Matt Cheuvront and is part of the Guest Blog Grand Tour over at Life Without Pants (an epic journey of over 75 guest posts). Want to learn more about Matt & see how far the rabbit hole goes? Subscribe to the Life Without Pants RSS feed & follow him on Twitter to keep in touch!

Photo cred: Poe Tatum

I talk a lot about building community, and then I talk about it some more. David, as the community manager of Scribnia, has probably talked your ear off about community as well. But, you know, there’s always room for just one more “building community” post – and this time, I won’t focus on what you should be doing on your blog – but instead, giving you a few ideas to cultivate community elsewhere.

Get active on other networks

Now we all know the big three (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) – those are no brainers. But what about Brazen Careerist, Twenty Something Bloggers, and (wink wink) Scribnia? You’ve probably heard of them, but are you really using them? These networks are out there for a reason – and they’re a great resource to tap into if you’re looking to discover new bloggers and network with new people. Everyone doesn’t hang out in the same place – so if you’re only hanging around Twitter and Facebook, you’re missing out on a huge untapped resource of amazing people. Invest some of your time building relationships around the web and leave some breadcrumbs that will lead folks back to your neck of the woods.

RSS Subscribers

Have you ever thought about this one? We’re all constantly urging people to subscribe to our blogs through e-mail and RSS reader. Why? Because it helps us build “loyal” community of readers. This is obviously an imperative goal (that you should be measuring regularly) throughout the development of your blog. But RSS subscribers can be both a blessing and a curse. They may always read your posts, yet they might not ever visit your actual site – thus missing out on that big ol’ community thing you have going on.

What’s the point? You need to invite and entice your RSS subscribers to click through. How? ASKING QUESTIONS is a good place to start. Make an effort to objectively ask questions in your post that instigates a response from your readers. In other words, force them to come to your “hood” in order to see people’s responses (and hopefully leave one of their own). The only way to get people to click through their Google Reader is if you give them good reason to.

Email

With Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Skype, and a plethora of other social networks, e-mail seems to be a dying trend. But it shouldn’t be, at least not for a rock star community builder such as yourself. Every time someone leaves a comment on your blog, you are blessed with an email address – or as I like to call it, a “gateway to a relationship”. Use it (wisely – not spammy) to your advantage. A blog can be a great place to start a discussion, but email can be a beautiful way to keep it going. Your friendships and connections don’t have to stop in the comment section – and taking the time to follow up via email (when it makes sense to do so) shows that you are really committed to building a relationship with that person.

IRL

Ah yes, three letters that we are starting to fade away: IRL or “in real life” – there’s still that distinction between our online lives and the ones we live when we’re not in front of a computer screen – but it’s fading fast – the two are quickly becoming one in the same. So when we talk about building community, it would be stupid not to mention the great connections and friendships that can be found over a cup of coffee or an ice cold Black and Tan.

The beauty of blogging and Social Media is it provides a gateway to opportunity – whether it be personal or professional, making friends or finding clients – it may all start with a blog or a tweet, but it doesn’t ever have to end there. Focus on building community and relationships everywhere – and your blog will become a much more fulfilling place for you and your readers to hang out.

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12 Responses to Home Away from Home: Building Community OFF Your Blog

  1. Tim Jahn says:

    Despite popular belief, not everybody is a 20 something. So what networks/sites (beyond Brazen and Twenty Something Bloggers) would you recommend for those that are looking to connect with others in their niche industries?

    • David Spinks says:

      The bloggeries forums are pretty sweet.

      For specific niches, it would depend on the niche. It also depends on whether or not you want to pay for it.

      TBH, I’m having a hard time thinking of networks similar to twenty something bloggers and brazen for older bloggers…good Q.

      • As David said, I know there are many industry-specific niches (ActiveRain.com is a great one for the real-estate industry). So it sort of depends what you are looking to get into. However – the twenty-something networks clearly dominate the “blogging” market.

        • Tim Jahn says:

          “However – the twenty-something networks clearly dominate the “blogging” market.”

          How so? Because they’re the two YOU frequent the most?

          I think that’s a rapid assumption and I’d love to see supporting evidence…

          • Matt S says:

            Thanks, Tim. I know that it can certainly FEEL like the blogosphere is dominated by 20sb, but that might just be more due to that network than anything else. Sure, there is a poor excuse for a network called 30sb, but frankly, the majority of actual bloggers I know (and read, with some exception) are NOT twentysomething lifestyle bloggers.

            Tech bloggers, health bloggers, sports bloggers, personal finance bloggers, and professional development bloggers, for example, are not skewed into one specific age demographic. I think it’s really important to remember that while 20sb is something AMAZING, it still only represents a small fraction of what is out there as far as blogging goes.

  2. Scott Hale says:

    Nice post, Matt.

    I think it often comes down to one simple thought – multiple touch points. If you give people the option to connect with you, you increase the opportunity for interaction. I think social networking advocates often overlook the power of real life meetings and having the ability to contact somebody at any time (phone, email, Wave, etc.).

    Using touch points effectively can get difficult when you scale it up to the community that some of the major bloggers have. At some point, your ability to interact with people away from your blog relies on pulling people back to interaction on your blog.

    • Tim Jahn says:

      I think you’re right on, Scott. Having multiple touch points that are each effective in reaching certain groups of people will serve well in the long run.

      And I think you bring up an interesting point about scale. I do think that you want to stay anchored to your home base no matter how big your community is. Yes, you want to interact at those multiple touch points, but at the end of the day, you need people at home base with you, buying your product, using your service, etc.

      Good stuff!

    • Right on Scott. Multiple touch points is key – and I do see that scaling cycle taking place around us: People focusing on building community ON their blog, then reaching out in other areas, then coming back to their home-base. Rinse and repeat. Cultivating community elsewhere is about bringing people toward your blog/site but it’s equally, if not more important to manage and engage with that community even more once they are in your neck of the woods. Cheers!

  3. Matt S says:

    Oh, and I’m forever grateful for the tip-off towards Scribnia in this post. What a cool resource that I was completely ignorant of.

    And yes, that comment ended with a preposition.

  4. Rose says:

    Good advice, but it can become time consuming keeping up with all the networks. Have any advice for time management?

  5. […] views on whether blogging is dead (hint: it’s not) to communities and whether Gen Y is driving the blogosphere, there’s never a dull […]

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