How to Build Community and Interaction on Your Website
Any blog or website needs a few simple components in order to be successful: great content, proper search engine optimization and a reliable stream of traffic from various sources. These three aspects can usually be controlled by the webmaster or blogger, and because of this, they often gain the most attention. Another key element to success when launching or managing a website is a sustainable level of interaction and communication between fellow visitors and the site owner. While it is often more difficult to force users to interact with your website than it is to create excellent content, there are a few simple steps you can take to encourage this development.
So many blogs and websites are afraid of negative commentary that they close off the comments sections for their content. Other sites may only disable comments for particularly controversial articles, which flies in the face of conventional wisdom about drumming up discussion. Webmasters should never be afraid to utilize the comments section for controversial topics – or for any topic – as this automatically restricts the amount of interaction visitors can have with your website. Most content management systems have comments included in their interfaces. If you enable these, you can always choose to moderate comments or require approval before they are published.
Promote Social Media
If you are pinging search engines with content, then why are you not pinging your website with links and modules to your social media profiles? In this day and age, community involvement for a website is not confined solely to the website itself, but takes place in a variety of formats. If you currently have a Facebook page, Twitter account or Pinterest profile, then be sure to share and promote these on every page of your website. You can incorporate modules into the web design that passively display this information while also including plugs in each piece of content to one or more social media accounts.
Utilize Surveys and Polls
If you are having difficulty engaging your audience through commentary and social media, then you can take baby-steps to encourage further interaction. Less invasive approaches such as polls and surveys can help you further understand your audience while also providing them with a way in which to interact without much effort. Some sites use this as an opportunity to collect information on why users are not engaging directly with the website, while others may wish to gain insight into how readers feel about their content. Whatever the motivation, surveys and polls can be a great way to begin the process of fostering a sense of community and interaction.
If your website or blog is new or devoid of commentary, do not expect a revolution to occur overnight. If you open your pages up to discussion, utilize social media and encourage passive methods of interaction such as polls and surveys, then you will slowly but surely build the necessary elements to foster those tight-knit community bonds. As much as pinging search engines is important to SEO, having the basic elements of communication in place is important for long-term community development.