1. Understand the fundamentals of Blogger Relations
While anyone can set up a blog in a day and start publishing articles, it takes far more work to be a great blogger and see the real benefits of blogging. First, you need to have a blogging strategy that is in line with your PR strategy and business goals. Next, you have to provide relevant content. Most importantly, you must conduct what is called Blogger Relations. Blogger Relations is what blogging is all about—starting and maintaining a conversation. Unlike Public Relations or media relations where you are trying to pitch your story, with Blogger Relations you initiate and participate in ongoing discussions with other bloggers and your target audience. As the conversation progresses, you get to know the other players in your industry; you gain credibility by listening as well as commenting; and you gain new readers as other bloggers provide links back to your blog to give you credit for your ideas. The more you conduct Blogger Relations, the more successful your blogging will be.
2. Create value
Creating something of value for your audience should be the first aim of your blog; otherwise your readers will have no reason to return. This is where a public relations strategy can help you develop content that keeps your customers coming back for more.
3. Grow and sustain your audience by providing real analysis
Monitor the news and blogs for articles that would be of interest to your audience. When writing about the news as a blogger, it is not just a matter of describing the news—though that is important. It is more imperative that you provide new, informative and entertaining analysis in order to sustain and grow your audience. That is why opinion and your personal perspective interlaced with your past experiences will help to add to your credibility and foster loyal readership.
4. Report on community opinion
If you think the news is important but don’t have an opinion or perspective, one way to provide opinion is to provide a synopsis of ideas from the community at large. In addition to acting as a valuable resource for your audience, you create the opportunity to send a trackback link to one or more blogs, connecting with more bloggers AND more readers.
5. Respond with comments to build relationships and traffic
Responding to another blogger’s comment can be just as important as the article post itself. Blogging is about dialogue and the opportunity to interact with your audience. Many posts will not receive any comments, but when they do, you have to be ready to respond. Blogging is a little like having an amphitheatre of people viewing a conversation between two people. While you must focus on the conversation with your commenter, you must also be aware of the rest of the audience. In other words, you should respond to the challenge the commenter presents while at the same time providing greater context, so the entire readership can follow and benefit from your conversation.
6. Track your conversations
In order to keep conversations flowing, you have to stay aware of each discussion in progress. Unfortunately, we are still in the early days of blogging, and many blogs do not include notification technology to let you know where there has been a new post. And even if a blogger receives notification that you have commented on his/her blog, does not mean that you will receive notification when that blogger replies to your comment. If comment email subscription is available, it is wise to subscribe. You may also choose to use tools such as del.icio.us or Cocomment for tracking comments online and subsequent follow up. But, ultimately, you may have to monitor for comments manually to make sure you keep the conversations alive.
7. Don’t be afraid of criticism
Dialogue is also about criticism; so don’t be afraid when others criticize your ideas or actions you have taken on a blog. See it as opportunity to keep the conversation flowing. In the blogosphere, you are more respected when you demonstrate the ability to respond. In addition, a “foil” critiquing your work can often draw more attention to the discussion and increase readership. Furthermore, criticism can be constructive. Feedback related to product flaws and improvements can actually help your product development process.
8. Conduct interviews to generate content and ideas
Interviews are a great way to generate interest and content for the blog. Picking other bloggers to interview is particularly helpful in generating links and traffic. Many bloggers will enjoy the added attention and more than likely link back to your interview post.
9. Promote your blog
When an author writes a book, the writing process is often very much solitary. Once the book is published, however, a writer must reach out to others and promote that book through public readings and strategic marketing. Building a successful blog requires a similar approach. Once your articles are written, you have to promote them by chatting with colleagues in the industry and starting a dialogue. Connect with loyal and thoughtful readers as well as industry authorities. When bloggers take note of your article, it tends to have a viral effect, increasing eyeballs exponentially.
10. Monitor the web for brand names and references
Using RSS feed search engines such as technorati.com and blogpulse.com, monitor for mention of your company and corporate blog posts as well as important developments in your industry.