If you’re committed to white hat SEO and community engagement, then interacting with your potential audience and their influencers is a critical step in building trust and creating lasting online partnerships.
I’ve created this post to help people who are interested in getting more involved with online communities, but need a bit of guidance in terms of best practices.
I’m assuming you’ve identified your audience, based on your product or service. If not, check out my follow-up to this blog, which I’ll create as soon as the weight of six hundred looming deadlines isn’t pressing down on me! Augh!
So after you’ve discovered the blogs and forums you’d like to get involved with, begin following them, checking in every day, and responding to their posts and questions.
But! you ask, how do I respond? Great question, you! Follow these guidelines:
Be honest but don’t be a jerk. Praise when applicable. Maybe you don’t agree with the blogger’s perspective, but instead of being a troll about it, you can graciously phrase that you found the perspective “interesting,” “unique” etc. Don’t lie, and don’t come across as being a pretentious know-it-all either. That does not build community.
Contribute something you know about that’s related to the subject WITHOUT posting back to your own blog right away. You can do this later, but if you post links immediately, then people won’t trust you. There are so many spammers out there, and you don’t want to be mistaken for one.
On forums this can be a little different. For example, I’ve posted a link to one of my blogs on Quora because it answered a question someone had. But I was clear about it (“I wrote this post that might be useful”) and I also pointed them to other posts as well (“Or check out what, so-and-so, an expert in BLANK says about it”).
Say something relevant. You are reading these articles, aren’t you? Make sure you’re not saying “Great read. Loved this.” Instead, say something that mentions a specific point the author took. Refer back to the post so they know you actually read it.
Yes, you can say “Great read. I loved this.” As long as you follow it up with “I had no idea that sled-dogs wear sunglasses. Adorable and weird.” Or whatever is relevant to that post.
For forums, don’t answer a question unless you can actually, well, answer it. I often see people respond “I don’t know” to a forum question. Don’t do this. If you don’t know the answer, then subscribe/follow the question so you can see what other people say, but don’t contribute useless feedback.
Check your grammar and spelling. Please. Another sign of a blog spammer is bad grammar. Check your grammar and spelling two or three times. You’re bound to make typos, but if you get in the habit of rereading before you post, this decreases the possibility of posting too many mistakes.
If you have historically bad grammar and spelling, then write your comments in a medium that has spell check and paste them (un-formatted of course) into the comment field.
Don’t over-post. I suggest reading your identified bloggers’ posts every day, but you don’t necessarily need to respond every day. You may want to refer back to an article you read in your own blog, so save the link and a brief summary of it for yourself, but you don’t have to always respond. Be engaged but not over-eager.
All this can be summed up like this: be nice, be authentic, be willing to share your knowledge, and be willing to promote other people and they will return the favor.