Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Respect The Community Where Your Readers Live And Engage With Them There

I have learned a very valuable lesson recently. Thanks to, my eyes have been opened about where to engage with my readers.

If you have never heard of PostRank, do not feel bad. I was just introduced to the PostRank Analytics tool and it surprised me that I had not given the site more of my time before.

What is PostRank?
From what I know, PostRank is a web-based tool used to help readers find hot topics and blogs. To determine what is "hot," PostRank uses a point system based on Internet-wide engagement activity. What that means is that each time someone retweets a blog post, it earns points. In addition to Twitter retweets, PostRank will look at a number of other sources like Delicious, Friendfeed, and Digg. The more activity these sites register, the higher a blog and its posts will receive in points.

The results from reveal how neglected some of my readers have been. Much of my attention has been placed on blog comments, but to my surprise the blog comments only account for a portion of the total number of responses world wide.

In addition to blog comments, I find that readers use Friendfeed, Twitter, Digg, Google Reader, and Facebook. This list does not represent all places, but rather the majority of where my readers live.

What Is The Lesson?
In the end, I have learned that sharing content on Twitter, Facebook, Delicious, Digg, Friendfeed, YouTube, and the like will produce reader feedback. This feedback may be a comment, like, retweet, share, or even a link on a reader's site. In each case, there is an opportunity to engage with readers in their world versus my own.

One of the most eye opening examples of this happened to me after I posted an article to my blog. To solicit feedback, I asked my readers to respond in the "comment section below." When I wrote that line, I meant for this to happen on the blog (, but it didn't happen the way I expected. Instead, readers on Facebook replied on the Facebook Note, readers on Twitter replied as a Twitter tweet or direct message, and readers on Friendfeed responded on Friendfeed.

As the author of the article, I found myself having to visit each community and engaging with readers in their space. Readers are using the tools familiar to them and expecting me to follow suit. While I am ok with this idea, my hope is that I could bring each of the communities together under one roof. Take for example the uses of Disqus, the commenting system found at the end of my blog. When I post a comment using Disqus, it is held in a central repository where I can engage with many sites and readers.

Until that type of system is available in the largest of communities, I will have to give each site my undivided attention. Neglecting a community and expecting readers to come to me is a poor policy that will leave readers unattended and ripe for someone else to take.

The Internet is a huge web of smaller communities. As our content is disseminated to the far corners of the virtual world, we should seek to follow our readers and engage with them in their space versus requiring them to play in ours.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this subject. How do you feel about engaging readers within their community. What challenges does this cause? What opportunities do you see? Let's explore this topic together in the comment section below (wherever that may be).

Until next time...

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Image via Ludwig Gatzke


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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

Toll-free: (919) 912-9121
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