How do you get people to come to your space, participate and become loyal community members? It's no longer just about providing value and being trustful. It's also not just about being provocative or creating linkbait. With so much content being published every second, the main focus of all of your online efforts needs to be centered around building consistent and returning traffic that will lead to credibility.
If you put aside how many pictures, audio and video programs are being published online and just take a look at Blogging, the numbers are overwhelming. There are a lot of Blogs beings published everyday (Technorati has it at over 130 million). Even if you think places like Twitter and FriendFeed are eating into people's Blogging diet, there is still a hearty amount of traffic flowing through those channels.
The problem is that It's hard to get people to stick around.
Whether it's because of news readers (like Google Reader) or because of the sheer volume being published, most content (like a Blog posting) has a very short half-life. Online conversations don't flow much beyond the day that the original piece of content was published. It's rare to see a Blog posting still getting a significant amount of comments or back and forth even a week after it was posted.
The question becomes: how do you build that traction? How do you get people to stick around? How do you keep things flowing, while at the same time building your community? Here are six ways to build consistent traffic:
1. Be unique.
There's a new reality that we all have to face: everything has already been done. There might be a couple of white spaces, but in general, if there's a topic of interest to you, odds are there is some form of content covering that vertical. In a perfect world, the idea of being truly unique is the way to go, but let's assume that someone, somewhere is already doing what you're doing. Your only hope is to be unique in the way you talk about the content. If you take two journalists and ask them to both write a story about solar panel technology, they will both come back with something completely different. That's the power of individualism and creativity. Don't worry about your topic being unique. Focus on making the way you deliver it unique and remarkable.
2. Make it easy for them to find you.
You may be surprised to find out how many of the publishing platforms are not great for search engine optimization. If you have never spent any amount of time understanding the basics of search engine optimization, perusing through a Dummies Guide, would be a great place to start. People don't know where to go, so they do some simple searches to see what's available. Spend a good chunk of your time understanding how people find you. Once they come to your space, make sure you make it obvious, easy and simple for them to subscribe, get your content and stay connected.
3. Keep it simple.
Many people clutter their spaces with advertising, links and other things that divert attention away from what's really important: the content. Also, embrace the idea that we do live in a snackable content media society. Keep your content simple. Keep the language simple and targeted to your audience. Don't pander and don't come off as "all-knowing." People want to feel like they are learning with you, not just learning from you.
4. Open up the dialogue.
Ask questions. Many people are afraid to ask questions because they are worried that no one will leave a comment, and this will make their Blog look bad. Remember, it's a process and if it doesn't work the first time, it does not mean that your content did not provoke some kind of thought. There have been many times where I have seen few comments on a Blog post, but that posting did lead to more conversation in places like Twitter or other Bloggers found it compelling enough to create their own posting to riff on the theme.
5. Promote the thought.
If you use other channels like an online social network, etc..., there is nothing wrong with sharing a link to your Blog posting there. Some people don't check their Readers everyday, but they will log into Facebook for a quick little update. Don't just push the link there, but make it relevant to the channel by either asking a different question or adding on to it an additional thought. You can't build your community unless you are letting people know that you have one and why they might be interested in taking part.
6. Publish less.
If you publish multiple times a day (or even once a day, like I do here), most people will be a little overwhelmed. It's not just your content, it's the culmination of everything. If you want more dialogue and back and forth, you may want to experiment with publishing more simpler posts (see point #3), a little less frequently. But, as the saying goes, "your mileage may vary". Less can mean fewer times a month. Less can also mean the word count per piece. You will need to figure out, exactly, what your communities' appetite is and how much they are willing to eat and share.
What are some of the things you do to get people coming back and to build your own credibility?
(Admittedly, I don't even follow all of these points, but I'm working on it).