Blogging 101: How to Build Relationships Online and Why It’s Important


So, I know it’s been a little while since I’ve brought you blogging tips.  But I picked up so many at Reviewer’s Retreat in Concord, NC last weekend that I thought it’s time to bring this series back and share with you all of the blog changing techniques that I’ve learned.  And while I could try to cram them all into one post, it will really be more beneficial to dedicate a tips post to each of them.  So today we are going to jump back in with how to build relationships online.  So, sit back, get comfy, get ready for some great information and welcome back to Blogging 101!

 This session at Reviewer’s Retreat was led by the fabulous Ted Rubin, the Chief Social Marketing Officer for Collective Bias.  I have to just say before we start that he was one of the most compelling speakers I have ever heard.  His passion for communication was evident throughout his entire presentation and you walked away feeling inspired to make changes, to connect with your readers and to really open the lines of communication.

                                                                                                With Ted Rubin at Reviewer’s Retreat ’12

And while his passion was evident, his message was clear:  Often as bloggers we do not take the time to truly connect with our audience.  We blog, facebook, tweet, pin, stumble, check in and more but we don’t take the time to grow our relationships online.  We don’t respond to tweets.  We don’t follow back.  We don’t take the time to get to really know our readers; to ask questions and dig deeper.  When it comes to social media, we simply don’t.

Social media is a facilitator of relationships but it is not the relationship itself.

So, at first I thought “Well, I’m not guilty of that!”  But then as I sat and listened I realized that I am.  That most likely we all are.  Because we get so wrapped up in us and what we’re doing that we forget the fact that our success is build by listening to others!  One of the examples Ted used was about JetBlue.  By taking sticky situations, responding and correcting, JetBlue has been able to leverage social media as an ally in their quest for growth.  Instead of hiding behind their brand, they actively engage their followers and strive to respond and acknowledge.  This really stood out to me.  Most of us, as human beings, are pre-dispositioned to avoid conflict.  To not address the hard questions.  But to grow your brand, you must answer the criticizing tweet and try to find a resolution for the unsatisfied reader.  You must listen to what they feel is WRONG with what you do in order to make it RIGHT!

What doesn’t work as a strategy for social media is NOT BEING SOCIAL.

So how do we go about reversing our learned behaviors and work on effectively building relationships online?  Well, according to Ted,we follow five simple steps.

 Listen.  This is simple enough really.  Listen to your readers.  Know what people are saying about you, about your brand, about your blog.  It is never easy to hear criticism but you can’t make necessary and positive changes without listening to the good and the bad.

Make it be about them!  We are often like children, living in a world where everything is about us.  Except it’s not.  With social media, it is essential to make conversations not centered on you, but on the person you are having the conversation with.  Take you out of the talking points and you’ll quickly find out what makes your readers tick!

 Ask “How Can I Serve You?”  If you don’t ask, you may never know!  Ask what you can do for your readers.  How you can provide more value to them.  Find out what they are looking for and you’ll know what will keep them coming back!

 Aim for Ongoing Engagement.  Yes, it’s nice to reach out to someone once.  But relationships are about more than a one time interaction.  Build relationships with your readers and the nurture them.  You want them to feel comfortable commenting, giving opinions and even giving criticism.  And the more of a long term engaged relationship you build with them, the more loyal they will be!

Know the people in your audience.  Know who is listening to you.  If they want to know about a certain topic, oblige.  If they are mostly young stay at home moms, don’t talk about working mom issues.  And vice versa.  Knowing what your readers want to read will help you to keep them actively engaged!

Another thing that really stood out to me was the need to worry more about building great content than rankings and numbers.  I remember in the movie Field of Dreams the quote that said “If you build it, they will come.”  To me, what Ted said struck a similar chord.   If you give your readers great content that meets their needs, the will come back.  If you get obsessed with the numbers, the rankings, the metric systems of measuring success, you will lose sight of what you were trying to do in the first place – connect!

Content Might be King, But Connection is Queen

Finally, Ted pointed out that RELATIONSHIPS are the new social currency.  If you honor them and invest in them, your return will come.  It may not be overnight but use social media to connect and connect well, and the return will happen!  So put in the time.  Put in the effort.  Connect and build relationships instead of just trying to build a name and in the end, your relationships will provide all the return you need!

A special thanks to Ted Rubin for sharing his vast knowledge with us!  And be sure to keep an eye out for his upcoming book, Return on Relationship for more amazing tips and valuable information!

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