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What Inspires Your Readers to Interact With Your Blog?

By Rachelle Chase

Rachelle Chase, romance author and bloggerStatic 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.

Find Derek Contest by Rachelle Chase

This was effective because:
Find Derek Winner

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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”.

4 Comments

  1. Posted April 25, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    My goal is to get into multimedia but currently I have a lot on my plate. Once I find some good (affordable) freelancers, i’m going to integrate some original content into some of my sites.

  2. Posted April 25, 2008 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I can definately understand about having a lot on your plate, Troy. In fact, I think not having enough time was one of the mistakes I made when I decided to integrate video into my “Finding Derek” site. Creating and editing the video I created of the Dereks I met on the street took waaaaay more time than I thought, so I didn’t get to post a lot of the footage I captured. Having someone to help would have been great … On later projects, I did find a freelancer by looking (and interviewing) folks I found on Craigslist.com. I’ve found that site to be a great resource for everything … Good luck with your site!

  3. Posted April 25, 2008 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    @ Rachelle Chase:

    Great idea! I love delegation. I’m also eager to hear more about the “Finding Derek” campaign.

    I find many people terrified of taking the risk to get “personal” and put themselves out there beyond the anonymity yet inclusiveness of social networking. We get so stuck in the same old same old, you are telling us to jump in with both feet and that it isn’t so scary.

    I’ve held back from including multimedia on my sites for two reasons: Time and value. It’s the old ROI. By adding these things, how much time is going to be spent editing and preparing them for publishing? How high is the learning curve? I need to find out what others are doing so I can emulate and learn from them…it takes time. So how much time do I need to spend before I can see a return on that investment of time.

    I’m finding out that it doesn’t take that much time. My fears added to the time. There is technology available that makes it easier, like the phone number for readers to call in with their say or having them add their images to YouTube so I don’t have to mess around with hosting or supporting the files…technology is beating down my fears of embracing these technologies, but it is still risky.

    Thanks for the great insights into making this easier to do, and hopefully, I and others will jump off the cliff of our stagnation and get more inclusive with multimedia.

  4. Posted April 26, 2008 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, first off, thank you SO MUCH for inviting me to guest blog. It’s been great to share a bit about what’s worked — and, soon, what hasn’t worked. I’m glad you’ve found it insightful and I hope others do, too.

    You bring up a good point regarding putting yourself out there. This is something I continue to question. Many of my blog posts are snippets about events in life, where I’m the butt of my own jokes. My purpose is to amuse readers and, hopefully, make them smile. But, is it interesting? Is it “too much”? Is looking at statistics, like hits or comments, enough to judge by?

    Regarding ROI as it relates to time, that’s something I always need to remind myself when it comes to just about anything on the Internet, including research. It is so easy for me to get lost in technology, to spend time trying out some new thing, because it’s exciting. I’m learning to prioritize and focus, so that I’m not trying to implement multiple projects at one time.

    Very thought-provoking comments, Lorelle. :-)


3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. […] Derek Contest – an online contest where hunky guys competed to be the hero of my book – to show the importance of interactive web sites. I focused on the why and how to make your site interactive. This time, I’d like to get more […]

  2. […] What Inspires Your Readers to Interact With Your Blog? […]

  3. […] What Inspires Your Readers to Interact With Your Blog? […]

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