In a beautiful comment on his announcements of his move from Microsoft to Podtech, Robert Scoble said:
So, don’t subscribe to PodTech.net just cause I’m going. Make us earn your subscription!
I’d read Scoble’s post the night before I attended my first Marysville, Washington, City Council Meeting to participate in an open hearing on the issue of annexation of the city of my family property and a huge portion of Lake Stevens and Snohomish County. While the newspaper reporter says the 100 or so property owners and their representatives were “split in support”, for the standing room only participants present there was no split. It was a roaring majority opposed to the annexation. So much so, I heard from several people that this was one of the largest city council meetings Marysville has seen in a very long time.
I heard people speak of the reasons why they didn’t want to be a part of the city of Marysville. Away from the emotional aspect, the reasons concentrated on property values and school districts. Those few there in favor of the annexation wanted access to police and fire services and other city services rather than county.
Emotionally, what was said over and over again was “I do not want to be part of Marysville. I made a conscious decision NOT to live in Marysville. I don’t like Marysville.”
I grew up alongside Marysville in Snohomish County, Washington. My family was among the early pioneering families in the area, with a marriage connection to Chief Seattle. My familiarity with the area is enhanced by the fact that my mother owned the leading real estate office in the area and served within the community, city, and state to control growth and protect the area.
The reputation of the city of Marysville sucks. It has sucked since the earliest memories I have, and before. Our family’s history is filled with negative stories of Marysville. Living on the edge of Marysville, my grandparents wanted nothing to do with the city, nor did their neighbors. Of those living, they say they can’t stand Marysville and never want to live within its “mismanagement and shortsighted rule.” I heard this more than once over the years, and it was echoed that night by others.
Are all of our stories, feelings, and perspectives of Marysville true? I’ll pay closer attention in the future now that I’m about to become a citizen of its shores, but truth has nothing to do with perception. The perception of many is that Marysville is not a nice place to live.
Scoble’s comment kept racing through my head during the meeting. Reputation is earned, and Marysville clearly, after all these years, hasn’t earned a good one.
Earning a Blogging Reputation
If I had a dime for everyone who whined to me about not getting enough traffic…hey, folks, let’s be honest here.
You can do the best Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on the planet. You can follow all the rules and do everything right. A post or three can get picked up by Digg, Slashdot, or Wired and instantly you have thousands flocking to your blog, but they will leave if there isn’t much to keep them there.
Loyalty is earned.
You have to make people want to read you, so give them a reason to come back. Give them consistent, focused content that helps them through their day.
You create your own micro-community with your blog. Put effort into making it a nice place to visit and a pleasant experience to stay for a while. Think about it. You invite people to visit you and introduce them to family, friends and neighbors you admire. You want them to feel at home with your blog, to sit in front of their computer with their cup of coffee or tea and have a little chat. You want to encourage them to come back for another visit and chat. Your earn their respect and appreciation by making them fans of your tiny community.
Don’t just expect them to show up and be impressed. Give them reasons to sit there with their tea and cookies. Give them something to think about. Give them something to write about. Give them a reason to recommend you to others. Earn their trust. Earn their loyalty. Earn their respect.
As for Marysville, the city council had already made their decision. Against the overwhelming vocal majority as well as the hands raised when asked, petitions against the annexation, and court actions to stop them, the illusion of democracy and reality of apathy continues in the United States. They voted to annex.
Do you think they earned some respect for that decision? Do you think their reputation has improved?
You gotta accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch onto the affirmative, watch out for Mr. In-between.
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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network