You can add widgets, bells, and whistles, but the absolute best addition to any blog is people who return for the value of the content and connections you provide. A community is made up of people who stay in tune with your content, with you as the blogger, and even with each other in one way or another.
What A Blog’s Community Looks Like
Even before the advent of the internet, a community was more than a mere geographical area within a set of prescribed boundaries. The word “community” has far more to do with the relationships between people inside it and how they interact with one another.
A blog’s community is enthusiastically tied to that blog’s brand and content. Members discuss content with one another, discover new connections within the circle, and contribute to the value of your blog. A community actually begins to shape the nature and personality of a blog over time and therefore, a community can be grown, but rarely controlled.
Why a Community is So Vital
If your blog is going to thrive, you need people to make contributions in the form of internal content (especially comments and discussion) but also to share your content with connections outside your community. One fact that Facebook understands well is that human relationships are far more important than directory listings and organic search results. Showing up in search results represents the infancy of the web while showing up in resources shared by people in relationships with one another is the future.
Without a community, your blog’s success is always on its last leg. Its survival is dependent upon a returning, faithful audience who grow to trust that you’ll continue to contribute value to their lives even when you miss a beat here and there.
How to Start Building Your Blog’s Community
I’m going to be writing about this issue more in depth in a multi-part series on building your blog’s community, but for now know this one dominating principle – be social. Connect with people. Speak their language, respond to their needs, and forge bridges of ongoing communication. Being social is far more important than joining social networks or using social tools.
Before I proceed with my series, what are your thoughts about online communities? How important are they? How do you start building them?