The basic idea is that you, as a blogger, can involve your audience in the creation of content.
The typical approach to blogging is this:
- The blogger gets an idea for a rant
- He/she rants out his/her knowledge, opinions, feelings or thoughts, and posts them.
- The audience reads the rant
- The audience, if moved upon by the post, will comment.
- Other audience members will comment on the post.
- Other readers will comment on the comments.
For all we say about "Web 2.0" and interactivity, this model really has a "Web 1.5" feel. It is more interactive than a static website ("Web 1.0"), where the visitor would simply read the content and then leave. But on the other hand, the author can simply sit back and watch the discussion around his/her thoughts. Occasionally, the author will join in the discussion.
But the original content still originated from the mind of the blog owner. It's true that there's some lateral conversation going on, but the initial communication is still top-down.
What if the readership were to participate in the creation of the original content as well as the discussion?
There are lots of ways this could work. Here's one way the model could work:
- A reader begins communicating with the blogger, probably in a way that transcends simple comment posting
- The blogger, sensing some really good information, follows up on what the reader is saying, possibly doing some research or just pondering the concepts.
- The blogger formulates his/her own ideas and opinions on the topic.
- The blogger discusses those ideas with the reader, and, if necessary, gets his/her permission to write about it.
- The blogger writes a post about the topic. As a part of the post, he/she cites the original reader and his/her ideas as the source of the topic.
- The readership of the blog, then, as normal, begins to comment and discuss the topic.
The cool part about this is that now the reader feels a certain connection to the blog. He/she is no longer just a reader, but an active participant. Do that over and over, and before you know it, you have a fiercely loyal and active readership.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Read your reader's blogs. Post comments on them. Draw your own inspiration from them. When you write about them in your blog, cite them with a link. Then return to their blog and post that you blogged about their ideas.
- Actively ask for help. A large part of establishing yourself as an authority is in your ability to draw from lots of sources. Build that reputation. You become a focal point for good information.
- Be creative in ways to draw your audience in.
- Recognize and accept your own areas of weakness. As people share their knowledge with you, you learn more, and you become more and more of an expert.
- Be respectful. If someone contacts you outside of the comments of your blog (for example, via email) it might be because they don't want their experience shared. Ask permission first.
Getting your audience involved is a great way to build your audience. Anyone have any stories about how they've done this? I'd love to share them here! Post a comment or email me.
Mark is currently in the curriculum Department of an internet and SEO training company. Mark also has other sites and blogs, including Mark's Black Pot - Dutch Oven Recipes, MarkHansenMusic.com and his MoBoy blog.