By Rachelle Chase
Static content that talks to readers is not enough today, especially with the meteoric rise in popularity of online communities and social networking. Good content is still the key to attract and compel people to return to your site, however giving them more than static content and blog comments for interaction gives them even more reason to keep coming back.
Even large companies are starting to realize this. Take Wells Fargo Bank’s Hands on Banking, for example. The site has games to help kids and adults master money skills, such as budgeting and home-buying. G2 Direct and Digital is another example, where interactivity through the use of text, sound, animation, and video adds value to their site with added services for their clients, such as Liberty Mutual’s Be Fire Smart community service.
How do you get people to interact with your blog? How do you add interactivity to your blog if you don’t have the big bucks of a large company? I’ll tell you how I did it as a romance author and blogger.
Give People a Compelling Reason to Interact with Your Site
What motivates your audience to participate on your blog? Is it ‘fame,’ i.e., being acknowledged or interviewed? Seeing their comment published? Talking with you, as the famous person? Is it winning prizes? If you don’t know, experiment to discover what works best. What inspires your readers to participate on your blog?
I write romance books, and romance readers love a great hero. When my first book came out, I came up with the idea for an online contest where sexy guys competed to be the hero of my book. I created the Finding Derek Contest, encouraging my readers to help me find the perfect hero for my next book. They submitted essay answers, audio clips, and video. I contacted online models, stopped cute guys in the streets, and asked any good looking guy I found to be videoed for my contest. Readers volunteered husbands, boyfriends, and good friends as the perfect male hero. Visitors voted for the finalists and a panel of celebrity judges chose the winner. It created a great deal of publicity and excitement.
- It kept people coming back for different reasons throughout the life of the contest. First, to see the week’s candidate. Then, to vote for the winner. And lastly, to see who won. All the while, they loved posting comments on the proceedings.
- Details on the sexy guys were presented via text, photos, audio, and video, thereby allowing visitors to experience the material in whatever format they liked best.
- It generated buzz and traffic. Those who entered solicited friends and family to vote for them. Fans of the entrants asked their friends and family to vote. Some of the judges told their audience that they were judging. Readers who came back weekly to check out the new hunks and told their friends to stop by for a look, too.
How can you present your information – the reason people come to visit you site – in a way that encourages them to stay and interact? By giving them a variety of ways to interact with the content and giving them something to tell their friends.
Adding Interactivity without Spending Big Bucks
I’m a firm believer in third party service providers. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful in increasing the interaction with readers on my blog:
- BYOAudio.com is a great provider of streaming audio. You can upload audio (or video). You can create call-in lines, where people can call in and leave a comment or testimonial, which you can then post individually on your site. You can create podcasts, which can be published to iTunes. ($19.95/month)
- BlogTalkRadio.com allows you to host live talk shows – where listeners can listen live over the Internet, call in, or communicate via Instant Messenger, as well as listen to archived shows. They also offer promotion tools for hosts. (Free)
- SurveyMonkey.com allows customized surveys with branching logic and ease for tracking results. (Free for a limited number of surveys and responses)
- ConstantContact.com provides email list management, newsletter/email submission, and click-through tracking. (Free 60-day trial; cost based on volume thereafter)
- YouTube.com provides video hosting and a social community. While YouTube is the most popular, there are a myriad of other free video hosting and community sites out there. Just Google “free video hosting” for ideas, or check out Robin Good’s list of popular video hosting sites. He’s also got a list of sites that you can use to post your video on multiple sites at one time, spreading your video coverage.
How do you add interactivity to your blog? Have you considered it or have you already jumped into multimedia interactivity? What can you do to make your blog more interactive?
Rachelle Chase is a Business Analyst and model by day and a romance author by night. Examples of some of the ideas mentioned here can be found at RachelleChase.com, “A Picture’s Worth a Handful of Words” contest, “Chatting with Chase,” “Chase the Dream Contest,” and “The Sex Lounge Finding Derek Contest”.