Wednesday, February 06, 2008

deeper secrets of blogocombat 2

As we examine the Deeper Secrets of Blogocombat, we must pause to reflect on lurkers. People who read your blog, but never post a comment are called "lurkers". This is not a derogatory term. Lurkers can be your strongest allies.

Lurker allies are happy to see you accomplish something, and are amused when trolls falsely accuse you. Lurkers may not interact with your blog, but they support you, perhaps in offline venues or on their own blog.

I often receive emails from lurkers who are very dear friends and colleagues. "I've been visiting clandestinely..." they'll say. They observe any debate or attacks with a big smile on their face, knowing you better than the flamers and anonymous trolls do. They've seen you crush trolls on TechCrunch or Twitter, so the whole affair is a source of great entertainment to them.

Lurkers represent about 99% of all web users. Less than 2% of those who visit websites ever contribute any content to the web, like a comment on your blog. There are many reasons why someone would not post comments.

Never blame yourself for a slow down or lack of comments.

Most people are too busy to post a comment. Others are shy. Some think they have nothing to add to the conversation, you're handling it so well. Many web users are not comfortable debating online, for the whole world to see. They're afraid of appearing stupid, saying something that's easy for bullies to attack, and may also be afraid of drawing trolls to their own blog.

Just keep being yourself and accommodating the suspected or known needs of your audience. How can you know the needs of your readers? Well, ha ha, comments from them is a big help. Also emails. But you can also research the users of your products, the fans of your type of music, or the actual visitors to your blog.

Check your site stats. Look at the referral logs. What websites are people coming from when they arrive at your blog? Go to those sites. Post comments at those other blogs that are the stepping stones to your own.

When I first started blogging, Matt Mullenweg, founder of WordPress, in a private email to me (did I mention that all the A Listers love me?), said the biggest key to blogging success is interacting with others in the blogosphere, your fellow bloggers.

What are the needs of your actual or intended readers?

Blog about things they need to know about or enjoy learning about. Share your secrets and proven methods of doing whatever you do. You blog, hopefully, not just to "express" yourself, but to also benefit others.

Benefit your lurkers, interact quickly and politely with your comment posters (but not the anonymous ones, whose comments you must delete and never publish), and visit the blogs from which your traffic is coming.

Many bloggers focus too much on what they have to say. You won't build traffic that way. You must also devote time and effort reading and posting comments on relevant or friendly blogs. Your most important writing is what you contribute to the conversation at other blogs, not your own posts.

By contributing free user-generated content to other blogs, you will gain a reputation of being a good neighbor in the rough and tumble world of the blogosphere. But if you just feel like lurking, that's good too. You're providing hits to their visitor counter!

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