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Get Yourself Out There

Brian Solis says that lack of comments means lack of influence, but I say dont expect a ton of comments unless you are approaching A-list (or even B-list) status. In fairness, Solis also says that measuring the success of a blog based on the amount of comments is just lame, and I completely agree. In fact, according to Jakob Nielsens study, 90% of online community users are lurkers, meaning they read but dont comment, while only 9% contribute a little and 1% contribute actively. While this study is not specific to blog comment participation, its likely that the principle is applicable though the numbers may have a + or – factor. This means that the majority of your blog readers will probably not be commenting on your posts anytime soon.

As is obvious to anyone who reads this blog, I dont get a ton of comments, so this isnt going to be one of those I did it and so can you! posts. Like Brian Solis says above, comments are not always going to be the best judge of the current success of a blog. However, there is always room for improvement, and as readership increases, so, too, should commenting. So, my blog has a way to go. There just is no magic wand to use to instantly get lots of traffic to your blog. There are ways to gradually increase the amount of activity on your blog, but to do it, youve got to get yourself out there.

Establish Your Hub
The first step is to give readers a way to find your blog. If you already have a website that gets some traffic, your blog can be integrated into your existing sites structure. If your blog is your online hub, you can use your profiles on various social networks to point readers your way (to learn more about this, see an earlier post titled Is that Really You?).

Read Other Blogs to Stay Informed
Next, youll need to find and start reading other blogs that deal with the same topics that you deal with on your blog. Being familiar with the larger conversation is crucial to both gaining readers and being properly informed on those subjects that you plan to write about. Use a feed reader (we like Google Reader) to subscribe to the RSS feeds for these blogs and get into the habit of reading through your feeds daily. If youve come to the determination that blogging is important enough to your web strategy to actually create one, youll also need to realize the importance for making time to read other blogs. Once youve done that, youll probably find yourself asking how anyone could possibly keep up with the amount of information delivered via RSS to their computer every day. Heres how.

Leave Comments, but dont spam.
Finally, reading other blogs will help you stay informed, but it wont help you to get noticed. Remember, at this point, youre just lurking (not that theres anything wrong with that!). However, at some point youll probably have something to add to the conversation thats happening in the comment threads of the blogs youre reading. Thats a good thing, and you should do it. Most blogs allow you to add links to your comment, so if you have a blog post or webpage that is relevant to your comment, this is your chance to share it with the community. The more you participate by sharing insightful and valuable comments, the more youll be able to share links without spamming the other readers of the blog. Participating in this way is crucial for developing recognized authority in regard to your area of expertise.

(In the spirit of conversation, heres a link to a blog post which asks how bloggers interact with comments. The comments thread to the blog is a fairly good indication of peoples varying opinions on how to interact with comment on their and others blogs.)

Then What?
Once youre off and running, there are several other strategies you can employ to get a sense for how your blog is doing, including setting up an RSS feed for search results for your name or your companys name online. If your blog has become a significant part of your online strategy, being aware of your online reputation will become more and more important. It will also give you a chance to respond quickly to those blogs that have noticed and mentioned you (for positive or negative reasons).

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