You remember in school when the teacher would ask a question and all the students would just sit there and stare. In many cases, a few of the students knew the answer, but it was easier to just sit there. Take it from someone who has been through the student teaching process, this is most awkward for the one in charge.
It may seem obvious, but the common “there is always room for more” applies to your small business blog and social networks. Without participation, your blog and social networks will be staring at you in the face. Blogging and social networking is completely free and a great way to help get your company name out there amongst anyone who surfs the Internet; however without participation, your social media efforts are as good as invisible.
Fortunately, there are ways to break that awkward online silence. If you are not sure how to move forward with your blog, consider a few of these tips in order to help get you started:
Awkward Virtual Silences—How to Break Them with Ease
1. Focus on your content
The very first thing a small business should do is write quality, engaging content. If no one wants to read what you have to say, you are guaranteed zero participation until you fix the problem. There are a few great ways to jazz up your content. First, try and write about current topics of interest. This should catch a reader’s eye and hopefully get them taking your blog or social network seriously. On a slightly different note, you can also try writing about material that may be controversial within your field. If you say something that a reader does not like, you are bound to spark up participation! However be careful not to offend your readers. Back up your opinions, stay researched, and good conversation should follow.
2. Link to other blogs that pertain to your article
If you are a small business owner looking to create connections across the web, you should be focusing on others blogs and networks, not just your own. Think about how thrilled you would be if someone mentioned something you said in their blog. If you do this for others, chances are others may do this for you. At the very least, the writer of the blog you link to will probably be curious to see what you wrote, and will take a second to come to your page. This will not only get one blogger to participate in your blog, but may spark all of their “followers” to do the same. To increase the likely hood of a response from the blog you linked to, find a relevant post on their site and drop a comment with a link back to your blog post that mentions them.
3. Offer guest bloggers an opportunity to write for your blog
Many small businesses work hard to get their name out there by writing for other blogs. In many cases, the only thing a guest blogger will want in return is a link back to their website or their blog, even if it is just in an author byline. This will drive traffic to their site, and hopefully they will bring along followers who are familiar with their writing. Most bloggers love writing guest posts, and it is completely appropriate to ask. Create a tab on your blog that explains how to contribute, and you may be surprised by how many responses you get. If you still do not have enough traffic for people to even seek out your blog, ask a few of the authors from blogs you admire. This is completely appropriate, and most of the time authors will be thrilled to hear that you want to be a part of their writing career.
4. Reply to every comment you get on your blog
The last step is to respond to all comments left on your site or comments that people respond to that you left on other sites. This is often the tipping point of a good conversation at the least and at the most the beginnings of a connection with someone new. The whole point of being able to comment is to continue conversing and exchanging information and opinions on the subject at hand. People will respond well to an author who is involved—they will know their comments are appreciated, and it makes it more fun for them if they can interact with the author.
Running a small business is extremely stressful, and if you do not have a social media/SEO department to take care of blogging and social networking, it is common that this gets pushed under the rug. The important thing to remember is that social networking does work, and it is easy. If you put a little bit of participation into your blog, you are sure to have others doing the same. After all, when was there ever an awkward silence with that teacher in school who knew how to deliver a great lesson?
Photo credit facebook.com/participation-grades
Editor’s Note: This “How To” blog geared towards small business owners will run each Wednesday, the goal being to assist small business owners in their day-to-day operations. As a small business owner, is there a topic you would like to see covered? If so, email: Amanda.DiSilvestro@resourcenation.com