(www.businessandblogging.com) As Laura mentioned in her latest post, businessandblogging is currently running a contest (with cool prizes!!). We’re looking for your best tips on building stronger communities in your blog.
While we’re waiting for the full results of the contest, I’d like to mention a tip on what to do when you have already built a strong community around your blog – and you’d like to take it to the next level.
One suggestion is to create a community forum so that your readers can interact directly with each other on topics of their own choosing, rather than simply commenting on the posts you write.
Becoming a moderator of an online community can be a daunting task! Not only do you need to know how to set one up technically, you need to know how to promote positive content and healty debate while maintaining a standard of professionalism and civility.
However, building a successful community can be worth the challenge:
It increases the level of engagement that your readers have with your blog. They are more likely to feel more personally involved with your business and come to your site more often to share their perspectives and to see what others have to say.
If you are wondering whether a community forum might be right for your business blog, you might want to take a look at Patrick O’Keefe’s book Managing Online Forums: Everything You Need to Know to Create and Run Successful Community Discussion Boards.
Patrick’s book is an interesting read because he has based it on his own years of experience managing online forums. Currently he manages seven communities including PhotoshopForums, CommunityAdmins, and KarateForums. His extensive experience enables him to give firsthand accounts of the challenges and opportunities of creating and maintaining a successful forum.
According to Patrick, “As the administrator, you are the person who has to lead the community, take it to the next level, make the tough decisions, take the heat, deal with the people, manage the staff, and keep the community running smoothly on all fronts.”
Patrick covers all aspects of managing online forums from choosing a name and picking the software, to ensuring posts stay on topic, settling online disputes, involving users and keeping the site intersting.
And if you decide to start an online community to accompany your blog, or you already have one going, please let me know about your experience - I’d like to highlight it here!
photo credit: Scott M