Befriending a Blogging Clique: How Not to Become Cyber Toast

An author and newbie blogger friend of mine said she wanted to ally herself with a group of powerful mommy bloggers and promote her book to them, but she didn’t want to become the victim in a cyber remake of Mean Girls. So, I gave her a few basic tips that I thought I’d share here. The good news is there’s a simple way to begin developing a relationship with your topic A-List bloggers: comment on their blog posts.

Reach out. Read their blogs and comment intelligently. It will give you visibility with your target audience (her readers who are interested in your topic) when you begin interacting with the blogger.

Contribute to the conversation. If you have personal experience, knowledge or special insight to the topic, share your information and opinions by adding to the discussion. It helps build community with the other bloggers and introduces you to their readers in an organic, non-invasive way.

If you disagree with the point a blogger has made in her post, you can open a polite debate by expressing your position and asking a question that allows her to expand on her position. But that can be tricky and shouldn’t be done unless you have read and participated on the blog long enough to have established a relationship and know how the blogger will respond in situations of disagreement. Do NOT go to another blogger’s site and pick a fight. It might even be better to use a trackback and keep your differing opinions on your own blog if you think the discussion will become too heated.

Don’t sell. Think of visiting other blogs like going to a backyard party. Everyone is standing around talking about a particular topic. Then you walk in and say the equivalent of: “Hi! I’m not interested in joining the conversation, I just came here to tell you about my great book/product/service.” Bad move. That kind of behavior can get you duct taped to a cyber tree. You’ll draw attention to yourself and not in a positive way. Read your comment aloud before you press the submit button. If your comment sounds like you are promoting yourself and trying to sell something, rethink your wording. Sharing information vs. sharing information about something you have for sale are two very different things.

If the blogger feels you are using her site for your own book/product/service promotion, she may delete your comment and ban you from posting on her blog, or worse—call attention to your breach in etiquette by posting about your rudeness. I know bloggers who have dealt with sales-y comments in those ways. Don’t be a comment spammer. It places you, your book/product/service in a negative light.

Leave a trail. Make sure you post comments using your full name rather than choosing the anonymous option. Include the URL to your blog in the comment sign-in form; that will make your name “clickable” in the comments window, so readers can find their way to your blog if they are intrigued by what you’ve said or want to find more information about what you’ve shared.

If the comment sign-in form does not allow for a direct click-through to your blog, you can end your comment post with a one- or two-line signature block with your name and your blog or website URL.

If you’d like to follow that particular thread of conversation, you can select the option to receive email notices when someone else replies in the comment section. This is particularly helpful if you want to continue participating in the discussion or if the blogger’s call to action has encouraged other comments containing useful information you would like to receive.

Give props. If a blogger has a particular post that you think would be great information for your blog readers, write your own commentary about the topic (you can also use an excerpt of the content you’re referencing), and suggest that your readers visit her site. Include a clickable hyperlink (use the permalink) to the relevant post on the blogger’s site. It’s free advertising for her and increases her blog traffic, in addition, it shows her you’re looking to establish a relationship of mutual support. And, it allows your readers to see you as a filter when you provide another useful source of information.

Overall, the concept is quite simple. Establish your online relationships the same way you would in person—a little bit at a time.

What tips do you have that worked for you?

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