Saturday, October 2, 2010

Five Blogging Mistakes that are Conversation Killers!

Do you agree that people/organizations create and maintain blogs for different reasons?  I do.  Some are selling products and services.  Others are looking to build personal/enterprise brand awareness, or maybe just looking to grow their circle of contacts.  Others might be on a crusade, desiring to share a message they are passionate about.  Whatever the reason(s) there is, for the most part, one universal objective in blogging … to generate a conversation.

The Importance of a Blog Conversation?

What’s so important about a conversation?  Well, for one, it stimulates interaction.  It creates energy.  It hopefully fosters learning.  And … It’s social!  Human beings are social creatures, for the most part, and when you give them a comfortable platform in which to engage in dialogue they gravitate towards it.

Relationships are often born through conversation.  They begin to grow, when people discover something in common with one another.  They flourish when there is a mutual benefit attained through the interactions.

Blogs are common platforms for initiating new relationships and sustaining them.  For context, I am connected to Four blogs at present, and have published approximately 200 articles, over the past eighteen months.  In addition I am a frequent commenter at other blogs.  My blogging journey has been enlightening.  I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

While I don’t view myself as a blogging expert, I do take my writing efforts seriously.  And, like many other bloggers, one measure of success is stimulating a robust conversation, with my articles.  I have made mistakes along the way, as you can imagine.  The great news is these mistakes have led to valuable learning lessons.

Five Blogging Mistakes that are Conversation Killers!

Arguably, the absolute “kiss of death” for any blogger is to lose credibility with, or stifle the energy of his/her readers.   The following is a partial list of blogging mistakes I’ve encountered that are ‘conversation killers.’

Mistake #1:  Control the Conversation — Most bloggers write an article with a desired conversation flow in mind.  Interestingly I have found, in my experience, that the ensuing comment string, following a blog post, may go in a different direction than the author may have envisioned.  Efforts to keep the discussion “on track” may have unintended results… they may end the conversation altogether.  Worse yet, the blogger may lose frustrated readers.  In my opinion it’s better to take a granular approach and let the conversation take on a life of its own.

Mistake #2:  Moderate, Moderate, Moderate — Another tactic that may backfire on a blogger is to closely control who is allowed to comment on their blog posts.  In the spirit of fostering community and conversation it is optimal to allow readers to freely express themselves.  While understandable that a blog needs some level of protection from spammers, and inflammatory comments, I would recommend keeping these controls at a minimum.  Reality is, if a blogger makes it too difficult for readers to comment on their articles, there will be no conversation.

Mistake #3:  It’s About Me! — As with other social networks, too much self promotion will turn people off.  Think about it… how many people enjoy talking to a ‘used car salesman’  or  the ‘vacuum cleaner’ guy.  It’s OK for bloggers to strut their stuff occasionally, but ultimately their larger aim should be to deliver reader value and generate conversation.

Mistake #4:  Being Disagreeable — As the old saying goes, “just because we disagree, does not mean I am wrong.”  Having different points of view is healthy.  Taking the stance that other people are wrong, or uninformed, is not ok.  It will impact a blogger’s reputation as a writer, and alienate people from being comfortable interacting with them.

Mistake #5: Over-promoting Blog Articles — Bloggers must be very careful not to re-publish identical copies of their articles in too many places.  The search engines, especially Google, perceive this type of activity negatively.  Repeated behavior of this nature will result in lower search engine scores.  A solution for bloggers re-purposing their blog content, is to alter each version slightly, differentiating them from one another.  This action will ensure that search engines don’t flag them as a spammer.

It’s important for all blog authors to remember one thing … their readers are the oxygen that brings life to their work.  By fueling reader energy, through a thoughtful blog design, and flexible, yet positive interactions, bloggers have set the stage for a healthy readership, and repeat traffic.  Quality content, of course, seals the deal.

Question:  If you are a blog author, what mistakes have led to learning moments that helped you enhance the quality of your writings?  For those of you that are blog commentators, what blogging idiosyncrasies are a turn-off to you?  Which blogs are really doing it right, and why?  Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Midori Connolly October 3, 2010 at 10:12 pm

I guess it depends on the purpose of the blog. I think it’s good to remember the origin of a blog…which is simply a weblog – an online journal.
Not everyone wants to open up their blog to commentary. Some people just want to push their thoughts into the world and might not be too concerned about who is listening – remember, not everyone is focused the socializing or producing big numbers. Sometimes it’s simply about having a place to sound off :)

That being said, for someone who wants to use a blog as a promotional business tool, I think you have provided some really outstanding guidance and advice – thank you for that!!!!
Midori

Reply

Michael M McCurry CMP October 4, 2010 at 11:44 am

Hi Midori,

Your point is well taken. There are some folks that are maintaining a blog for reasons other than conversation or “commentary.”

This article was really aimed at those people that are interested in sustaining a conversation and dialogue within their blogging efforts.

Thanks for providing that alternative viewpoint.

Mike

Reply

Donna Kastner October 4, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I’m managing 3 blogs – regularly contributing to 3 more. Recently noticed more traffic and retweets when the post is more positive (5 ways to) rather than negative (10 reasons why I don’t like…). Dash of personality & humor helps, too.

Great list Mike – thanks!

Reply

Michael M McCurry CMP October 4, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Hi Donna,

Great suggestion, make it positive and add some humor…. keep it light!

Good points and thanks for adding to the conversation.

Mike

Reply

Christine Melendes October 4, 2010 at 12:17 pm

Mike,
I blog, but I use that term lightly as I don’t do it as frequently as I would like and they aren’t as interesting as I would like. But I do truly enjoy the writing side of it.

That being said, I think a big mistake I’ve made is not doing it frequently enough and in essence I often feel like I’ve killed my own blog.

So I would say my advice is to not go into blogging lightly…you need to be commited to regular posts – whether they are every day, week or month…get into a rhthym right off the bat and stick with it.

-Christine

Reply

Michael M McCurry CMP October 4, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Hi Christine,

Sounds like you have been doing some reflecting, and I agree… you can’t take blogging lightly if you are going to be serious about it.

It sounds like to me as though you ought to do a self evaluation to identify why you want to blog and set some goals for yourself. Thats a really good start and will give you momentum to leverage in moving forward.

Thanks for contributing to the discussion.

Mike

Reply

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