I know. I was invisible for 15 minutes.
Never happened before that, hasn’t happened since. All I can say is that it was a surreal experience.
Several years ago my husband Bob and I walked into a travel agency in Spokane, Washington.
We had been discussing our planned one-week vacation in Hawaii for months. We just needed a little help with air and hotel arrangements.
We stepped into the little shop and the bell on the door jingled.
There was not one customer in the place. I looked at the woman at the front counter, waiting for, oh, I don’t know, a “Hello,” or something.
It appeared that my expectations were unrealistic. She didn’t look up. And it was so quiet.
Besides the woman at the counter, there were three other agents, working busily at their desks.
Bob and I picked up a couple of brochures from a rack and discussed them in hushed tones (because, really, we didn’t want to disturb anyone).
Five minutes. No one recognized us. Ten minutes.
We started talking louder. I grabbed a full-color brochure with a Waikiki high-rise hotel on the front and turned to Bob.
“This looks like a fun hotel for our Hawaii vacation!” I said.
Still no one looked up. It was like a bad Twilight Zone episode.
By now it was a game. We weren’t going to use this agency. We just wanted to mess with them.
Bob dropped a brochure on the floor. “Whoops!” he said bending down to pick it up.
By now we were laughing out loud. And 15 minutes later, we walked out, slamming the door that mocked us again with its jingle. I peered through the window and they were all busy working their keyboards, answering their phones.
It was weird.
We were invisible.
5 ways to build a strong, visible reader community
We talk a lot about building community here at For Bloggers By Bloggers. The benefits are huge: for you, the blogger and for your readers.
You get more readers, more subscribers, more fans.
What’s more important, your readers get perks in the form of more visits to their own blog, connections with other bloggers and a chance to find new interesting blogs to read.
Now, let’s say you’ve done all the usual things to invite your readers to the party and engage them with your blog content. But, still, your community isn’t growing as fast as you hoped it would. Try these reader focused strategies.:
1. Ask them how they feel about things.
We already know that it is our emotions that connect us. Posts that not only educate and inform, but make us feel, win— hands down. It’s the best way to bring out the humanity in us and make us feel visible.
There are many bloggers who do an excellent job of this. But I thought, why not, in the spirit of this post, call out one of our For Bloggers by Bloggers readers? Lori Gosselin, from the Life, for Instance blog, has a knack for touching the heart with her posts and her follow up questions in the comments that encourage readers to tell their own stories.
2. Reward them for hanging out with the community.
Our readers bring so much to our blogs. They expand the conversation. They enrich us with their comments and personal perspectives.
One way to reward your readers is to invite them to write a guest post for your blog, as I’m doing this week on the Cat’s Eye blog. You get to thank them for hanging out on the porch and they have a chance to get to know each other better as they visit one another’s blogs.
3. Connect them with each other.
Our own Frank Dickinson recently wrote a post on his own blog, 5 Bloggers I Can’t Live Without and Why You Shouldn’t Either. Now I suspect that some of them were readers of his blog—perhaps all are.
But better yet, he concluded the post with, “…I’ll end it here and let you add your favorites.” So, more links that connected readers to other deserving bloggers.
4. Recognize their contributions.
If they are talking to the walls, well, no one likes an echo chamber.
Respond to their comment.
Tell them what you think about what they said. Make them feel welcome. Unless you are one of those A-listers with hundreds of comments, it doesn’t take that long.
5. Give your new readers a smile and a nod.
Seriously, don’t be like those strange travel agency people. When a new reader wanders into your shop, let them know that you’re happy they showed up. And ask them to come back again.
Don’t let that irritating bell on the door be the only thing they hear or they may exit, never to return.
What about you?
Have you ever felt invisible when you visited a blog?
As a blogger, what other fun ways have you found to recognize, engage and reward your readers?
Share with us in the comments. Please.