The key thing about online community relationships is that the more you communicate and step forward to your readers in a useful, honest, and direct manner, the more trust you will build. And the more trust that you build, the more likely it is that your community and readership will continue to grow.
The people in your community may, over time, become your online friends … and maybe even clients. It is important however, to nurture the relationship with your readers first and foremost. It is good practice to keep useful content coming regularly without pushing to hard and driving them away.
Don’t Forget – Communication Is a Two-Way Street
In real life relationships, we all know that clear communication takes at least two people; the person delivering the message and the person receiving the message. When it comes to online relationship building, both parties can trade in their roles, but just as in real life it always takes two-way interactions. Do your best to always respond to reader comments, and seek enjoyable ways to interact with your audience. Try to let the communication flow naturally.
Engage Your Community In Authentic Conversations
Try to be mindful and release any end goals so that you are free to enter into flowing conversations with your readers. Strategically you’ll want to try to keep these conversations public so that others can benefit from your writing and assistance. Keep in mind that your conversations are not only useful to the person you’re talking to, but also to everyone reading. Creating forums is always a great idea too!
Share Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits with Your Readers
Outside of calling out people by name, another way you can build connection with your readers is to give them some personal insight into your work behind the scenes. If you’ve failed on a project, or didn’t do something as well as you wanted, maybe share your story. If you have already written a blog post about something they are asking about, answer them, but link to that old post too. When they see the effort you’re taking for them, it will really help you to build trust.
Request Reader Participation
You can ask your readers to upload images, memes and even videos around the topic in question. Perhaps you’re trying to promote healthy habits to families … you can ask that they share pictures of their families at play or even start a community to help encourage moving as a family. Building a solid connection with your readers is paramount, as it will also help you to feel better in your own work, and help you to remain clear about your purpose. I love using Conversational Forms by WPForms. These are full page conversational forms which help your readers feel that they are getting a more personal interaction with you. See more about how they work here.
Create Challenges for Your Readers – Fun!
Depending on what your end goal is, you can plan different types of challenges for your readers to get them more engaged with you and build relationships with them. If this sounds like something you’d like to create, once you have your challenge idea in mind, you can set up the challenge through your email auto-responder (or even create an online course for your readers!).
Host a Q&A Session (Facebook Live, Zoom, etc.)
Q&A’s are very popular and ways to build camaraderie with your community. They are lots of fun too, and a great way to get your feet wet with real time connection with your readers! This is a great way to nurture your community and clarify your purpose in your work.
Remember that building community means growing your readership and learning about yourself in the process. You may need a wide range of content types in order to do this, and keep yourself passionate about your writing and your work. Every time you post something on social media, it becomes your content. Every time you post an article on your blog, it becomes your content. Watch for your own responses as well as your readers’ responses to your published work. This will help to inform you and keep you on track. Use your content to its maximum by making it interactive, and therefore more enjoyable for everyone!