Content is King, or so the saying goes. What does that really mean on a…
Build Your Readership: Power to the People
Content is King. That is the mantra that many people have said for so long now that it virtually seems as if the web was born with this coming out of its collective mouth, but even the best content can only take you so far. So, what is there beyond the King? Well, power is derived from the masses, is it not?
Since power is derive from the people, you need to build a readership. This is especially true in an era where search engines are starting to become social media savvy and using data mined from social networks to determine just how popular content really is. Fans and community involvement are more important than ever before for aspiring content-monarchs.
You, Her, Him, Those People Over There…
The truth is that the people are what will ultimately prove to be better than content, but quality content is still a fundamental requirement. This means that getting people to participate with and interact with great content in some way is the future, and it has already arrived in so many ways. Getting people to actively participate requires a combination of different techniques, not all of which are obvious. Here are some brief points to think about:
- If You Don’t Build It, They Won’t Share It – If your site has killer content but no way to easily take that content into the social networking realm, you could be missing out. There are countless tools to enable visitors to share your content with others. Get those tools, install them, learn them, love them, and use them well. The result will almost certainly be a spike in readership, which in turn can be turned into trust that will lead to higher conversion rates. Power to the people!
- Welcome Back – Many sites close with comments about what they are working on next, or have sections dedicated to reviews or quick-takes on things that will expanded upon in the future. By letting people see what is coming down the pipe and formally inviting them back to check out the new content, they just might be more prone to do so. The more someone visits, the more they are likely to return again and again. Being a techie, I happen to visit a lot of tech oriented websites. Surprisingly, a few such sites have massive readerships. Examples include Anandtech and HardOCP, both of which offer great examples of giving their respective readerships glimpses of what is in the pipe.
- Ask For Involvement – If you don’t ask for a sale then you cannot be upset when no sale happens, right? What about not asking for community involvement? If you do not ask for it, do you really have any right to be confused or upset when communities do not build themselves out of your readership? Give people an open invitation to respond, and they will probably do so. Interact with those that deign to respond, and they will probably respond again…and again…and then tell their friends.
- Know Your Role – Some sites are well-targeted at very thin niches, and others are incredibly broad. It may be that a niche is too small or too refined to get a sufficient number of readers to create a readership critical mass that results in a community forming. On the other hand, a site could be all over the place and that might distract people and cause them not to visit again. The lesson here is that the focus and niche of a site will determine its readership volume and the ability for that volume of readers to form coherent communities. Figure out which you are an address the problem. A site that is all over the place can be sectioned off into multiple areas that are more focused, while a site that is too narrow in scope should consider expanding into related fields.
- Go Viral – If you want to attract new people and keep them coming back, it might pay to try something different. A viral video that is off the wall or content that is more link-bait than substance can often work, and periodic rehashing of quality content into something borderline-irreverent and off-kilt is often shared amongst friends and colleagues. Watch your readership grow and your community come together when people respond i
- New Mediums – You may have already noticed that Art of Blog is now producing a lot more videos than it used to, and for a few very good reasons. The biggest reason is that there is a completely different crowd of people that use YouTube and other similar services, and we want to reach those people. Could your site stand to benefit from expansion into a new medium? Would it be possible to build a new community and/or increase your readership by expanding into a different medium while covering the same niche? Probably… Does that new medium already have social tools like those mentioned above? Chances are good that it does! This makes building a new community out of new and existing readers a simple task.
In order to keep people coming back, you need to:
- Invite them to comment and share, and give them the tools needed to make sharing easy.
- Invite them back and let them know what is coming soon.
- Ask for feedback, and respond when you get it.
- Think about your focus as well as the medium(s) you are using.
- Go viral and see if the fans start forming a community of their own or gel with your existing readership.
Do you have anything to add to our list? If so, please feel free to share in the comments section! I know there are tons of great ideas just waiting out there based on past feedback!