I have a core set of about 4 bloggers I read every day. And over the last 3 years, I've learned heaps and heaps about engaging online from these bloggers. These bloggers share pretty much everything about their lives with their audiences and in turn the community they build. They share details such as where they live, their relationships, what they ate, family, their daily workouts, their fears, hopes, acceptances, sleep patterns, admittals, insecurities, and the details of the birth of their first child.
What some call "strip bloggers" - these online personalities make the choice to share copious details about their personal lives, and essentially live and share experiences though their transparent writing online. As a result, their blogs are HIGHLY engaging (for their interested followers). And the numbers prove this. I've seen some blogs get 850 comments on a daily basis (or at least for the super personal, super-engaging posts). In fact, I've done some quick research, and it appears there is a direct positive correlation between the "personal" level of the post and the number of comments. Regardless of what the motives of these bloggers are, there is one thing that is undeniable. Their blogs are SUPER engaging (again, for the interested participants). Engagement on these blogs is taken to a whole new level and there is a lot to learn from it.
Since commentary, page views, and humanness with these bloggers is magnified, what can we all learn about online engagement from them?
1. Your online actions have to be entirely authentic/truthful. If I found out one of my bloggers was creating a facade of a life, or writing things purely for sensationalism, it would be very disheartening, and I would probably immediately lose interest in their sharings.
2. Pictures are critical. Since when we engage online we want the same human experiences, just without the luxary of the actual face-to-face interation, pictures are essential to provide those wanting to engage a feeling of a "personal" connection. This is probably why profile pictures are absolutely critical on any online network. No one wants to engage with a ghost. We want to know what and who is on the other end. Even while bloggers may seem narcisstic for posting so many pictures of themselves on the internet - even doing purely mundane things - doing yoga, going for a walk with their husbands, these pictures are what allows us readers to connect with the person on the other end.
3. Must blog at least 4x/week. The best strip bloggers blog at least 4 times per week. And the ones who do so more frequently, have better engagement. Once you get hooked on a blogger and you enjoy/learn from their writing, it is natural to eagerly await new posts like new episodes of your favorite TV shows. If you have any kind of blog - for your organization, personal brand, etc, don't expect to build any kind of a following/community if you blog so infrequently no one can keep track of anything you've said in the past.
4. Must have a thick skin. If you plan to use the internet to engage, you MUST have a thick skin. These prolific bloggers have to have that much of a thicker skin because while the majority of their feedback commentary is positive/encouraging/thoughtful, there of course will be a percentage of online trolls or drama starters. The more engagement you have, the more negative feedback you'll get (it's just probability). So if you want to be engaging, plan to thicken up that skin!
5. Must listen to feedback. Bloggers get increased attention/participation when they listen to the community and even openly declare they NEED their community. If I take the time to continuously post comments on a bloggers site, and he/she never responds, and worse if it is clear he/she never responds to ANYONE, I will probably see this person as a narcissistic pontificator, and not return to their site, no matter how originally interesting.
Do you follow "strip bloggers?" What have you learned from them? Are you one yourself?