There is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and many techniques to draw people to click to our blogs. But how do you have a conversation that actually influences and reaches the right people? It is one thing to attract traffic to your blog or social media. You can get people’s attention once. However, that could do more harm than not if your desire is to actually influence thinking. Is your message worth a discussion or simply a click?
This is my 10th year blogging here at RKblog.com! I have seen things that draw traffic, engage readers and dominate more than a couple pages of Google search at a time. On this journey, I have also made hilarious mistakes that have been quite informative. My goal—as with anything I share—is to give a bit of wisdom that comes from both the good and the bad of experience.
Here are five lessons that may help you influence through blogging.
1. Blogging is a dialogue, not a monologue. The paramount rule for blogging is that it is a conversation. When we make it a personal journal or angry rant, we lose because we make it about the “I” and not about the “we,” and that gets old quickly. Conversation, like the Socratic method of classroom teaching, works. This means you ask a question rather than preach a sermon. If your ideas are strong and tested, they will measure up to this rigor and humility! If not, then you actually learn something yourself as a writer and blogger. Now, that’s a bonus!
2. Blogging is a relationship, not a platform. A lot of ink and digital space these days cover building a platform. But a platform that is only there to broadcast you and not serve others really will wear thin over time. Does my blog offer something of value to others, or simply publicity for my brand? Building a tribe is stronger than building a brand. Blogging is a legitimate way to build a tribe. Turning a platform into real-life relationships that matter is what a tribe looks like. Tribes influence deeper than impressive platforms—at least over time this is true. And platform climbing or building sees people as a means to something else. Why not make people what you are about?
3. Blogging is long term, micro-blogging is short term. If you want to splash, you can make your blog like a Twitter account that posts the most exciting clickable meme. Or, you can slowly have meaningful conversations that develop over time. While blogging as a technology is as quick to post as Facebook, in practice the speed is slow. Good blogs think of the graphics, the wording and the amount of posts. Why? They live forever online. And it actually takes work to make 500 or so words that both keep one’s attention as well as engage a meaningful conversation. You have to judge not your last week’s stats, but the last year’s to know what matters to people—and yourself. Influence grows over time. Are you in it for the long haul?
4. Blogging develops thoughts, marketing encourages behavior. You might effortlessly get people to click to see a post that links to a complaint. Hate and critique are easy to sell. It is harder to listen and think with people. Online influence is not about the clicks—its about the people behind the clicks. You can make your blog like a reality show, full of train wrecks that encourage a shallow gaze. Or, you can lead people by facilitating important conversations. Important can be fun, by the way. It can be entertaining as well. What is my true motivation for blogging? Is it the traffic and platform or the people and the community?
5. Blogging is about influence, not popularity. Now, we are talking here about “influential blogging” but there are other kinds. There are hate blogs set up for celebrities and religious leaders. There are gossip and political blogs that are there to incite. To influence other leaders, you have to decide at some point that popularity will come and go. All leaders learn this and have to navigate the fine balance of their own values and the structure they operate in. Too much heat and you will lose your post. But blogging is that one “place” where you can shine or you damage your ability to lead. Many philosophies of blogging simply look at popularity—like it’s a good thing to count rubberneckers gawking at a traffic accident. Make a lasting difference with your online identity means you take a higher road. It may cost you, however. All influence costs.
What do you think: Is blogging about creating a popularity platform or about influencing people by thinking with them? Share your thoughts.