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Lisa Barone on Authenticity


“Authenticy in marketing is telling a story people want to hear.” – Seth Godin

Lisa Barone’s session at BlogWorld LA 2011, “Creating Your Blogging Superhero,” covered the topic that seems to have become a buzzword in the new media world lately: authenticity. Authentic scares some people because they think it means airing their dirty laundry, but as Lisa teaches, you can be authentic in a really smart way to become a blogging superhero to your readers.

It reminds me of something Brian Clark said at BlogWorld 2010 – I’m paraphrasing, but basically, what he said is that you need to be the best “you” possible online. I think it’s really smart advice. Here are Lisa’s four tips to creating your blogging superhero:

1. Identify your place in the market.

What makes you different? What do you want your audience to know about you – and more importantly, what do you want your audience to remember about you? Says Lisa, “We live in a crowded complex world. Your audience is only going to be able to remember a few things about you.” Before you can create your blogging superhero, you need to identify your place in the reader’s world.

2. Identify the traits and experiences that help you epitomize that.

What traits do you have as a blogger that help you show that you’re perfect for that place in the market? Those are the traits that you’re going to what to show online. According to Lisa, “Being a successful marketer doesn’t mean letting all the nasty bits hang out.” The traits you display should relate back to your core goal as a blogger.

3. Build a story that ties it together, emphasizing the traits that allow you to be the best version of yourself.

“That’s what marketing is – using yourself to show people their desired outcome,” says Lisa

You don’t have to lie to your readers – you just should be selective about how much you want to reveal about yourself. It isn’t inauthentic to want to show your best traits. You act differently around “the boys” or “the girls” than you do around your children, and you act differently around your children than you do around your boss. Tell a story using the pieces of you that make sense for your readers.

4. Lose everything that does not relate back to what you want to show. It’s a distraction.

Lastly, remember that you don’t have to share anything that doesn’t relate back to your goal, even if it isn’t necessarily bad information about yourself. Remember, people can only remember a few things about you, so think about how you want to be known in your niche or industry. Says Lisa, “Too much irrelevant information distracts from your core goal.”

If you missed BlogWorld LA 2011 or were in another session when Lisa talked, check out the virtual ticket. You can listen to her entire presentation there, as well as see sessions with other speakers.

Building Your New Media Empire


This year, BlogWorld attendees heard from an esteemed panel of online empire builders – host Mitch Joel from Six Pixels of Separation, BlogHer CEO Lisa Stone, Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner, and CEO of Federated Media Publishing Deanna Brown. If you want to check out the entire keynote, definitely pick up a virtual ticket. Here were some of my favorite quotes from the panelists:

Deanna Brown

  • “I think it’s less about new empires and more about the fall of empires – the fall of old media.”
  • “The most successful bloggers in our network blog about what they love.”
  • “Avoid anything that puts you in a box.”

Michael Stelzner

  • “If you pick an area where you see a hole…you can build a massive following, and you can turn that into a business.”
  • “Figure out what your customers of prospects are interested in…and then give them what they want.”
  • “I say that I’m a publisher, I don’t say that I’m a blogger. I think that’s how we have to think about it.”

Lisa Stone

  • “Today’s empire of one has to have a diversified business model.”
  • “There is no contest that the most important thing you can do is deliver a fantastic story.”

Again, this is just a small sampling of the awesome empire-building advice these three panelists had to share! Check out the virtual ticket to see the entire presentation and get access to ALL of the sessions from BlogWorld LA 2011.

About the Speakers

Mitch Joel was recently named one of iMedia’s 25 Internet Marketing Leaders. He blogs at Six Pixels of Separation and is the president of Twist Media. You can find him on Twitter @mitchjoel.

Michael Stelzner is the founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner. Technorati and AdAge rank his site as one of the world’s Top 10 business blogs. You can find him on Twitter @Mike_Stelzner.

Lisa Stone is the co-founder and CEO of of BlogHer. Their content hub at BlogHer.com reaches more than 27 million women monthly. She’s on Twitter @lisastone.

Deanna Brown is the CEO of Federated Media Publishing and the co-founder of CondeNet, the digital division of publisher CondeNast. Find her on Twitter @deannabrown.

Chris Garrett and Sonia Simone Talk Tribes


“Tribes are united by passion.” – Sonia Simone

One of the track keynotes at BlogWorld LA 2011 was given by Chris Garrett and Sonia Simone. The two partnered to talk about tribes, and whiles you can check out the entire presentation by purchasing the virtual ticket, here are some key take-away points:

#1: Your tribe starts with you – your passion and how you frame that passion.

Chris and Sonia talked about the need to be a leader in your community. While it is important to listen to your crowd, the vision for the tribe has to be your own. What’s your unique spin on your topic? People want to get behind that idea, and they need your vision as a guide.

#2: You are the leader, so start acting like it. Set the rules that will support your tribe.

I think this point can be best summed up in two quotes:

  • “If you’re not getting hate mail, you’re not trying hard enough.” – Chris
  • “It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. It’s a lot of drama…If you’re going to have a tribe you have to accept that you are the law.” – Sonia

There will be people who hate what you do and aren’t afraid to tell you that. There will also be people within your tribe who are argumentative, mean-spirited, and annoying. The great thing with your tribe is that you get to make the rules – but you also have to enforce them.

#3: You can move from free to paid when you know what your tribe will pay for.

Lastly, think about what you know how to do really well and what your clients really need. That’s the intersection you want to find if you intend to build a paid membership community. People are willing to pay for lots of different stuff; it’s just a matter for finding your community and getting them involved with your product!

I definitely enjoyed this insider’s look at the membership community-building experiences Chris and Sonia had. Remember, the virtual ticket allows you to hear the entire presentation as well as ALL of the other sessions from this weekend.

Strategy that Creates Community


If anyone knows a thing or two about community, it’s Liz Strauss. I got the opportunity to attend her track keynote at BlogWorld LA 2011; here are some take-away key points from her talk:

  • “A leader is someone who wants to build something they can’t build alone.”

We all believe we have to build things alone, like help is a four-letter word. But we all need help to build something great. Remember, John Kennedy had no idea how to actually put a man on the moon. Invite people who share your values to help you – and they will bring their friends.

  • “In order to know where you’re going you’re really have to have a strategy.”

Strategies are the the same as tactics. According to Liz, “strategy is a realistic system to leverage opportunity.” We all have different opportunities, but you need to have a mission so people will follow you…and you need a vision to have a mission. Missions make roadblocks irrelevant, because you’ll find your way around them.

  • “Pick your position. Know where you are.”

When you choose your position, you’re going to attract people to you and help you build your tribe. Notice people: who they are, what they do, and what they notice. And notice people who notice you – those are the people who think like you and share in your vision and mission. Identify your advantages and look for people who need those things. And remember, what you think are your weakness can be turned around into strengths.

  • “Cycles, trends, and conditions shine with opportunity.”

Change allows for the chance to grow. “Bad” conditions don’t have to be bad for you – did you know the most businesses were started during the height of the American Great Depression. You can turn challenges into opportunity.

  • “Understand that you’re going to have different people in your tribe.”

Support people in every way you can, but realize that people are different. You have apostles, people who execute, two-minute volunteers…understand how your tribe works and value them at every level.

  • “Campaigns make sales. Communities make relationships.”

Campaigns are about your products, but you want people to build a relationship with you. That way, when you make mistakes or change your mind, people will follow you.

  • “You can’t lead the community and be the community.”

Liz told a great story about her friend who, within a year of owning her first car, got into five (minor) accidents because she had a habit of speaking with her hands to people – she wanted to be a passenger and a driver. You have to lead – and that means setting an example and being in control of your community.

These were just a few of the awesome points she made during her session. Remember, you can pick up a virtual ticket if you want to hear Liz’s entire talk as well as other presentations from BWELA 2011 – as well as special backstage exclusives from Johnny B. Truant!

About the Speaker

Liz Strauss is a brand strategist and the founder of SOBCon, the business strategy workshop event that grew out of her popular Successful-Blog.com. She was named to Dun and Bradstreet’s 68 Most Influential Small Business People on Twitter and awarded the prestigious title of Titan of Web 2.0 at the World Forum “Communication on Top” in Davos, Switzerland.

The BlogWorld Community – Places to Connect Online


Isn’t the internet a wonderful place? One of the things I love most is the various types of communities around. You’ve got Flickr, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so many more! It’s pretty great that you can choose to be part of one, ten, or twenty different communities on any given topic.

That being said, I’d like to introduce to you the BlogWorld & New Media Expo Communities with some official links to get you going. Personally, I’ve got them all bookmarked in a folder on my toolbar, so I can simply select, “Open All in Tabs” and whammo – there they are!

Facebook Page

The BWE Facebook page has (as of my typing this) over 5,000 members. It’s where we push out links to our blog posts and updates, communicate with fans and attendees, have random and not-so-random discussions, and in general is where people interact with each other about various topics, links of interest, and so on. I probably currently spend most of my time here right now.

Facebook Event RSVP Page

This is the page we’d love to see our community use some more! Facebook events are great things, because you can RSVP there and show all your friends and colleagues that you’re planning to attend BlogWorld! You can also use it to invite others to attend as well.

Twitter (official accounts and #bwechat)

When I’m tweeting for BlogWorld (which is all day, every day), you’ll find me on @blogworldexpo, which is the official BlogWorld account, and the place to go if you have any questions or anything like that. Deb Ng, our wonderful Conference Director, also runs a weekly #bwechat there, every Wednesday night at 9pm EST. We often feature special guests like some of our speakers, or active members of the community who have something to share. You never know who may show up, so don’t miss it!

BWE Forum

I’ll be working on the BWE Forum quite a bit in the coming months. Ideally, I’d like to see this community grow to a place where “newbies” and “veterans” can come together to learn, teach, share, and explore. I’m not thinking, “All BlogWorld, All The Time” with this one (*gasp*), but more so for it to become a great place to connect and support each other in our endeavors as bloggers, podcasters, vloggers, and content creators, all year round.

LinkedIn Group

Did you know we have a LinkedIn Group for BlogWorld? You can use this tool to network with other attendees and fans, connect on LinkedIn with people you know or would like to get to know, and share thoughts and ideas freely in there! Networking at the conference event is a crucial activity, but with the LinkedIn group, you can keep in touch with those you meet at the events, or find people you’d like to meet at the next one!

Flickr & YouTube

We also have some great places you can check out photos of our events, speaker videos, and more, with our Flickr and YouTube accounts! We’d love to see you share your BWE photos in our Flickr pools too!

So there you have it – all the places you can go online to connect with us, with fellow attendees, and with our speakers. Come join us, hang out, learn and share. See you ’round the interwebz!

Participating in a Twitter Community


… by James Dabbagian


What do all these things have in commom?

….OK….Aside from the “chat” part?

These are all hashtags for different Twitter chats. You’ve probably seen them from time to time as people in your stream participate in them. Maybe you scoffed at the idea, simply viewing them as flooding your stream? It actually goes much further than that. Each chat is its own Twitter community that everyone participates in! BlogWorld, I might add, has its own chat: #BWEChat which is every Wednesday at 9-10pm EST.

What is a Twitter Chat?

A Twitter Chat is a group of users that share certain traits that all communicate with each other through a hashtag. You may have seen hashtags like #usguys and #SMgirlfriends tweeted about; these are twitter communities. If you’re on Twitter a lot, and you want to maximize its benefits, you should consider participating yourself. Twitter chats are also communities, although they only meeet once a week (But feel free to use the hashtag to share with others!)

There’s Twitter chats for everyone, from fiction writers to social media advocates to teachers. You can check out a list by clicking here.

Why Participate in a chat?

Whether you’re a budding freelancer out for clients and advice, or a business looking to find new customers, or if you want to demonstrate your expertise, The best place to go is to a Twitter community. You can ask questions and get answers from others in the community, and do the opposite as well. By participating in a Twitter chat, you can also get recognition for your comments, resulting in more people following you, including a possible client or two!

Networking in a Twitter Chat

The best thing to do is to follow the major players of the chat. Obviously, this includes the host and any guests the host may have, but also watch for other people who frequently comment on things during the chat. These may be people that give the best advice, or are the most social, or are just plain ‘ole interesting!

Don’t forget to comment, yourself. Some chats go really really fast, so the best thing to do is reply to people with a question or comment and carry on the conversation.

Faux pas you should avoid

Don’t link to random sites (including your own) unless the community host explicitly allows it. Exceptions may be for content that’s relevant to a discussion at hand. Most of the hosts tend to frown upon links during chat, as they are seen as spam. If you must link content to someone, reply to them without the hashtag (Basically, backchannel them.)

Don’t announce if you’re late. It makes it look like you’re not respecting the chat and the topic by being on time. If you are late, it’s perfectly acceptable to just jump on into the chat.

Lastly, use common sense. Don’t act like a jerk, post commentary that’s on-topic, and be generous.

James Dabbagian is a Social Media Mad Scientist (Not a ninja, rockstar, superhero, etc) who has blogged since the days of
LiveJournal, and has done Social Media essentially all his Internet life. Get tips on using social media and blogging from his website. And don’t forget to catch #Freelancechat, a Twitter community for freelancers.

Do You Have What it Takes to Manage a Community?


Session Title: So You think You Can Manage a Community?
Speaker: Marcy Massura

Recently I have come across articles that like to talk about successful techniques for Community Management, but rarely do they focus on the most important ingredient; the community manager themselves. I thought I would put a list together for MY essential five things I think it takes to not only snag a job in this killer field- but to keep it– by being outrageously effective for the brand.


Be absolutely passionate about the power and potential of social media. Understand that you are not just promoting products…but you have the power to create communities of like minded people. Sure that means they are ‘like minded’ in their love of a brand- but that is nothing to sneeze at. You are at the helm.  And while your purpose is to promote (which is a euphemism for SELL) the brand, you are also there to fascinate the consumer. Make sure your passion is evident to both your employer and the readers.


You must be proud of the brand. (I adore my brands.) You must use it, love it and proudly tell everyone they know that they represent the brand. Why? Well it is pretty hard to fake sincerity, even in 140 characters. Additionally- it is easy to create content for a brand/product you have personal experience using.  Can fresh-out-of-college Bob write content for product targeted to mothers? Maybe. But can he do it with a convincing sincerity that will help to build the community? Probably not.


Not all brands are prepared to be in the digital area. Of course that doesn’t stop them, especially since everyone keeps telling them they HAVE to be doing social. So they hire a digital agency to build them a page(s) and hire themselves a community manager. But they are nervous, and realize this person and voice is the biggest spokesperson they have ever had. Gone are the days of being able to bury a bad quote on page 17 of the paper by making a call to a buddy after a press conference. Nope. Now, everything in the social world is broadcasted and permanent. So they want to play it conservative. Safe. The best community managers push back- just a little to help bring the brand along with creative and interactive content. But that takes guts, vision and strength.


Every time I mention I am a community manager for a large brand I almost always get the same reaction- “Wow that must be FUN”. I generally smile and say “It is. I am lucky”. But what they don’t understand is- my idea of ‘fun’ and their idea is totally different. My fun is high paced, tumultuous, last minute, long hours, stressful and jam packed with opportunities to be effective. Very few community managers are creating content with no checks and balances- most major brands have a slew of people hired to check and double check every Facebook update, every Twitter reply and more. So you need to be patient and remind yourself that it is their multi-billion dollar business that gets sued if you say something false, (likely) NOT YOU. They have every right to double and triple check and change your content (because in reality it is THEIRS)  But that also means you are frequently working on tight schedules…so patience on all levels helps.


Know where YOU want to take the brand. Don’t wait for the brand to tell you what they want because chances are- they don’t know. You need to TELL THEM where you are going to take them. Do you want to increase Facebook likes? Change demographics, increase interactions, change over-all perception, build alliances, promote advocates etc etc and etc.

Community management is a fun and exciting path that many bloggers are venturing into, as a realistic career option. After all- once you fully understand the space- why not help others and grab a paycheck while you are at it. However, it is important to remember that it can be a demanding position with many pitfalls. Being the face, the voice and the consumer point of contact for a brand is a huge responsibility. One that must be treated with respect, care and love.  And while I would not say I have fully mastered all 5 of these traits- I do work towards these every day.

Hear a bit more about Marcy’s topic and why she is pumped to attend BlogWorld Expo L.A. in November:

Go to our YouTube channel to see what other speakers are saying about BlogWorld.


Marcy Massura is a Community Manager at Weber Shandwick representing Oscar Mayer and Lunchables in the digital space. She is also a long time blogger, humorist and all around ‘social’ gal. Learn more than you needed to know about her at marcymassura.com or on Twitter @marcymassura. Better yet, come hear her speak at BlogWorld.

How Businesses Can “Go Undercover” Using Social Media


I was flipping through the channels early today and landed on a show I had never heard of before called Undercover Boss. The concept is simple – someone high up in management at a large corporation goes undercover, posing as a new worker in an entry-level position. At the end, their co-workers are surprised with the truth and hard-working employees are given awesome rewards. The company gets the added benefit of learning a little something about about how their business workers at the basic level.

The episode that was airing had Don Fertman from Subway posing as a “sandwich artist” (aka, the person behind the counter who makes your sub) at four different locations. It was comical to see others get frustrated with him as a new employee and heartwarming to see him surprise four deserving people with awesome prizes, like scholarships and vacations, after revealing who he really was.

As a small business owner, or even a mid- to large-sized business owner, you might not have the ability to go undercover and learn about your business from the trenches, but you can “go undercover” in a sense – with social media!

One of the things I simultaneously love and hate about the Internet is that people are brutally honest. Most will speak their mind without a second thought because there’s the protection of the computer screen, which makes things seem more anonymous even though your name and picture could be right beside your comment. Brazen commenters can be a bit annoying, but as a business owner, you can also learn from them. Here are a few steps I recommend you take to go undercover online and find out what people really think about your company:

  • Read the tips on FourSquare and other location-based services.

Oh, the problems that could be solved if only the management would read the tips people give about their companies online! The other day, I checked into a small family restaurant and the top tip was that people should “get there early for dinner because the wait is really long.” Obviously, the person who left that comment still thinks the restaurant is worth visiting, and even getting there early…but that doesn’t mean you should consider it a victory if you’re the restaurant owner. If the top thing people have to say about your restaurant is that the wait is long, think about ways you could solve that. Could you add more tables? Hire more staff to handle the dinner rush? Offer a happy hour at the bar that people can enjoy while waiting? Even if people aren’t complaining doesn’t mean that you can’t improve.

  • Follow your employees on Twitter.

Some people lock their Twitter accounts, but most keep them public so others can see what they’re saying. Find your employees on there and follow them – under an anonymous name. If your employees see you following them, it may make them think twice before saying anything about their job or co-workers, so keep it on the down low and just see what they are saying. Do they think their boss is an idiot? Hopefully that isn’t you! Invite them into your office to talk about what they would do differently if in change. Do they promote your company even on their off hours? Reward them with an extra Christmas bonus. Do they tweet while at work? FIRE THEM! Just kidding – actually, take this as a criticism of how your workday is structured. Tons of tweets even though all the work is getting done might mean that your employee is bored working at a job below his ability level, for example.

  • Use search functions to see what your customers are saying.

You should definitely be doing this if you aren’t already. Monitor the conversation about your company and answer as many people as possible whenever you’re mentioned. It’s easiest to do this on Twitter, in my opinion, but you should also be responsive on Facebook and other sites that make sense for your niche. You can’t solve every problem, but you can show that you’re listening. And – this is important – actually listen. If a customer complains that the t-shirt your company sent was too small, the answer isn’t just to send him or her a refund. The answer is to send the refund and take a look at the sizing information on your website to see if it is accurate or post more information about your clothing running a little small in size. The point is not only to fix problems, but to avoid the same problems in the future.

How does your small business use social media to monitor the conversation and improve your products/services? I’d love to hear your tips in a comment below!

Build a Community Around Your Content


… by Greg Marlin

So you have a great blog, one with vast amount of good content and visits. But when you look at your page views per user counts, they are paltry at best. You look wistfully at the PV counts on sites with crappy content but a reason to keep people around, and wonder what you can do differently.

There are only so many times the same avid reader can read all of the articles on your site. But wait, I have comments! Comments are linear, as they can only be made on each individual post. It’s kind of like having a conversation with your friends and rigidly forcing them to stay on topic…not very fun is it?

So What’s the Solution?

You need to build a community around your content, thus giving your audience a reason to hang around. I write more about this on the Vanilla blog on “Building An Online Community Around Your Content” but the crazy thing is your audience is probably dying for you to do just that! The shared interest in what you have to say gives them more in common with each other than the fact they bumped into each other at a party and are now Facebook friends. What’s even more striking is you’ve already solved one of the hardest parts of building an online community – seeding it with great content.

How do You Build a Community?

The best way to build a community that will stand out and give your readers a reason to stay, is by tying it directly to your content in the form of conversations. You have already given them the what to talk about (or at least to start the conversation), now you are giving the where on your site. That’s through a forum. A Forum!? Those clunky old bulletin boards that look like websites circa 1997 and are a beast to manage? No, the new ones that take a fresh approach to the power of forums, are easy to set-up and manage and integrate tightly with your site through theme design, modular architecture, advanced user management and single-sign-on authentication.
When the Online Community Report surveyed top community managers on what community tool they used most it was discussion forums. So take a look at forums as a way to realize the full value of your content and build a community on your site.

Greg is Vice-President of Sales and Marketing at VanillaForums.com. He has a background in strategic planning, alliances, marketing and sales. As part of his role at Vanilla, he is active in researching, analyzing and reporting on community management best practices, both to inform Vanilla’s product development and also to provide advice to customer communities. Having owned and managed his own content and community websites, he is also aware of some of the unique challenges facing content producers. His major hobby of the moment is training for his first full-distance Ironman triathlon.

Company Bio

VanillaForums.com powers content and customer communities, designed with the community manager’s job in mind. Its flexible design system makes it possible for customers to customize community sites to fit their vision (not that of the forum software company), including exactly matching the look and feel of an existing site. The modular core architecture enables the platform to be added to fit exacting needs and the open authentication plugin system allows the community to connect through Single-Sign-On to any website or application, as well as to external networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and OpenID. And since Vanilla Forums is open-source customers can rely on a wide network of developers who actively use and test the software and add plugins to the community, and customers can build additional plugins themselves.

Ten Innovative Ways to Connect with Your Community


I don’t know about you, but when I hear the words “blog community,” I think of comments on blog posts and forums, maybe interaction between the blogger and readers on Facebook or Twitter. Really, though, how many of us truly have a community? We might have fans and regular readers, but it’s extremely hard to build an actual community of people who feel like they’re part of a group. It takes dedication and hard work to build that kind of following.

So how can you take things to the next level? Get innovative! I’ve brainstormed ten innovative ways to connect with your community, and I hold everyone out there reading this will pitch in and add at least one comment with your own innovative connection method.

In fact, that’s my challenge to you: Leave a comment with one innovative way to help build a sense of community on your blog. Here are ten from me to get you started:

1. Host a “family game night.”

When I was a kid, about once a week or so, we would have family game night, when we played board games and card games together (usually Yahtzee). With the power of the Internet and online gaming, you can host a family game night for your community. Wiis, Xbox 360s, and PlayStation 3s all allow you to play with friends online, and you can also encourage people to all log onto Facebook at the same time to play an interactive game there (just pair off and meet new people).

2. Host a movie night.

Along the same lines as a game night, consider hosting a movie night. If you have an Xbox 360 (and Gold membership), you can actually watch Netflix with anyone who is your friend (i.e., the move starts at the same time for everyone and you can text or voice chat if you want), but you don’t need to be a geeky gamer like me to do movie night. You could also start all at the same time and create a Twitter hashtag for everyone to use. I recommend choosing something that’s streaming on Netflix (a lot of people use that service) and something that is related to your blog in some way (documentaries are a great choice, for example).

3. Run an interactive comment contest.

Nick Cardot of Site Sketch 101 did this a few weeks back, and it was a really cool idea. A lot of people in his community got involved, and it became more about the fun and less about the prize money (though I’m sure people started commenting in order to win). When you’re encouraged to interact, you’re more likely to do so – and a prize is a gerat motivator to get people started.

4. Host a Twitter chat.

Every week, I participate in my favorite Twitter chat, #blogchat, but there are tons of others online as well. Participating in chats is an awesome way to find new readers (and new blogs), and if you can’t find one for your niche that you like, consider starting your own. Check out my post on Twitter chats if you’re going this route!

5. Make your readers part of the post.

People always feel like they’re a part of something when you recognize them. Use a tweet from one of your readers as a jumping off point for a post. Turn a comment into a post. Answer reader email (with permission) in a post. Once, I even posted part of a Skype chat as a post. It just helps people take more ownership in the blog if you’ve used a contribution they’ve made in some way.

6. Plan a Tweet Up.

If there’s a conference for your niche coming up (or if you write a blog that is based in something local), try hosting a tweet up (i.e., meet up coordinated on Twitter). It doesn’t have to cost anything – just name a place and time – people will come. (And yes, BlogWorld is an AWESOME place to do this.) When you meet readers in real life, it strengthens the community.

7. Hand out the perks.

Prizes are great for contests, but how about some perks instead. Because they’re a member of your community, they get something with real or perceived value. Give away an ebook, offer a discount on a course you’ve created, and other perks. Maybe if they come to your site every day, there will be something special on your sidebar (such as a deal you’ve found for a product related to your niche). Maybe they get a newsletter if they’re part of your mailing list. Maybe mailing list members get to know one of your secrets first (Benny from Fluent in 3 Months, for example, announces to his list where he’ll be traveling next, so you have to sign up if you want to be in the know).

8. Give them a name.

It doesn’t work for every community, but it might for yours. Giving them a name of some sort can help them feel like they’re part of something. A good example? Lady Gaga’s “Little Monsters.” It really just means “Lady Gaga fans” but then name makes it a little more special.

9. Set up a time to chat on Skype, Ustream, or another service.

If Twitter chats aren’t your think, you can also set up time to chat with your readers using some other service. The BlogcastFM guys, for example, do Ustream chats. Do what works for your community.

10. Come together for a cause.

One of the best things you can do as a community is come together for a cause. The best example I have of this is the crazy outpouring of love on The Bloggess’ blog back in December. What happened was nothing short of amazing. Also, I’ve bookmarked that link to read whenever I’ve lost faith in humanity. It works every time. (And I cry every time. Y’all done been warned.)

Okay – your turn! What are some innovative ways you can help connect with your community?

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