How To Bring Interactivity to Your Blog

This post was guest blogged by Jamie Harrop, a blogger of five years who at Jamie Harrop Dot Com writes about blogging, life as a young entrepreneur, self improvement and travel.

Blogs can often be two dimensional. The author writes a post. The reader writes a comment.

That’s all well and good, but it’s now very cliche and old.

Over the last six months the blogosphere has seen a huge influx of new media interactivity. Video and audio has been at the forefront of that effort, with John quite often leading by example with his videos around Vancouver.

Going Beyond Video and Audio

John and others have spoken at length about the ever growing importance of video and audio in blogs and Web sites in general, so today I want to go beyond that. Today, I want to find new ways to bring interactivity to your blog. New ways to entertain your readers. New ways to ensure your readers feel an integral part of the community you are building. Here are four Ways to make your blog more interactive

1 – Polls

Polls are the obvious starting point. John and many other bloggers have started to make more use of them. Some contain the polls to their sidebar. Others add the poll to a new post once per week. In the short time that I’ve been using polls, I’ve found them to be an excellent, occasional, alternative to readers writing comments. Although my poll posts still receive plenty of comments, I find that the commentators are often different than normal posts. Polls bring in a whole new crowd and allow people to voice their opinion very quickly and purposefully. They’re also ideal for allowing readers to learn very quickly. Nobody wants to read through 30 comments to find tidbits of useful information, so a poll allows users to quickly see trends and crowd opinion.

Polls are used in a variety of ways, but I like to post one new poll per week on a specific day. My readers are now accustomed to the weekly schedule of a Monday poll. I then post the poll results and an analysis on the weekend. Before I knew it, polls had given me two days worth of useful content per week for my blog.

There are many poll plugins for WordPress, but by far the most popular is WP-Polls.

2 – Guest Blogger Central

This is something I’ve recently seen in increasing popularity. Open up a specific category or a separate sub-blog for guest posts and have those posts display within a user-generated area of your Web site. Allow everybody to register as an author and publish their articles, much like a wiki. Don’t publish them on your main blog yet. Just link to the “Reader Generated Blog” from your main blog. Then each week choose one post from the published list and publish it as a guest post on your main blog.

By allowing your readers to add their articles to a community driven blog with your audience looking on, they’re able to become an integral part of your community. And with the weekly reward of one post being re-published on your main blog, you’ll soon find your readers competing with each other to write the best post.

3 – Live Video Streaming

I said I wanted to go beyond video and audio, and although this does involve video, it does go beyond the basic pre-recorded ‘talking to the camera’ effort. The only time I’ve seen live video streaming used by a blogger is when the previous owner of John Cow used it to communicate with his readers. Bob setup a camera in his office and had a regular chat with his readers as he worked. His readers could communicate with him via a chat room, and he would respond to their questions on the live video stream. I was one of the lucky few who was able to chat with Bob in this way and it proved to be an excellent method of interacting and making connections with readers.

In the constant effort to make online communication more personal and inviting, live video streaming is as close to face to face contact as you can come on the Internet.

There are Web sites out there that allow you to easily setup a live streaming feed. UStream TV and Justin.tv are the most popular.

4 – Live Comment Conversations

This idea comes straight from Liz Strauss. Every week Liz sets a topic and her readers come in droves to chat about the topic in her comments section. Liz transforms her comment area in to an instant message conversation. Not only does Liz reply to comments, but other commentators reply to comments. This is a fantastic way to give a new dimension to blog comments and help form relationships between you and your readers, and between the readers themselves.

Set a time of the week. Set a topic. Get the conversation flowing. Your readers will be on your blog for hours are they chat back and fourth.

How do you allow your readers to interact with you and your blog? Is your blog a two dimensional time-piece, of a three dimensional trendsetter?


54 thoughts on “How To Bring Interactivity to Your Blog”

  1. Aldhis says:

    I believe there are many more interactivity that can be found in blogging. These four are only the beginning of another new era in blogging. We still can find another potential hidden in blogging world and it’s all up to us to find them all! 🙂 Happy blogging! And if it’s not too late, Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Taris J says:

      Very true good point, but they are still good points made in the post by John. Not sure how I feel about live video streaming as that would mean that you have to be at the computer for hours at a time, unless you decided to set a time frame that you would be online and then tell all your readers when to come check you out.

      1. setting up appointments can’t be a bad thing. Limiting something does have the tendency to create demand for it. I like the guest blogging idea of having people write a post and then you decide to publish it. The only down side would be if there wasn’t anything good that was coming in. You could just choose one every week, two weeks, or a month. Although, I like it you need to have enough viewers in which only a small percentage will contribute. So your visits would be already higher. But it will cause their friends to come by your post.

        Remember, this is a guest post by Jamie Harrop and not by Chow

        1. The old John Cow wasn’t the only blogger using live web cam chat… Chris Pirillo does that all the time, and has for years.

  2. Melissa says:

    I like the idea of setting up a poll on a certain day of the week so that readers can expect and look forward to a new topic each week. Plus, the results give you new material to blog about after the poll is over!

    1. Its difficult to judge a result on small basis. Better to have a poll run longer.

      1. I agree. I’d let it run for at least a month.

  3. Jamie you have shared some excellent points here.

  4. michael says:

    thanks for every new info i will apply also this to my blog…

  5. michael says:

    nice info thankz

  6. Any chance you could update the URL it’s http://www.successful-blog.com/ not as typed.

    Kenneth

  7. I like Live Comment Conversations by this I can really work good for my blogs

    1. rajapayloadz says:

      i agree with you. I also love something like live conversation.

  8. Car Blog says:

    Nice post. I would say the best thing is to add video if you can. Not easy to do though.

  9. Rowell says:

    I’m a fan of Jamie Harrop. He’s always got something great to say. I think polls are a great way to have everyone interact with each other on your blog. I’ve seen a few people use the live chat. One of them that’s really successful with it is http://www.happyslip.com

  10. Great post! Thanks John

  11. Brad says:

    Great info, i like the idea of getting your readers to write for you!

  12. Dmitry says:

    Am I the only one to note that the link for “Liz Strauss” is broken?

  13. Polls and Liz Strauss’s strategies of live comment conversations are awesome, have brought about great returns in number of subscribers 🙂 Great post.

  14. DollarDevil says:

    Letting the community blog on your website is a great idea. Providing you can count on your community to actually produce some quality topics.

    Video/Audio will always remain a great way to communicate with your readers, regardless of how “over-done” it is.

  15. BusinessX says:

    This post is a two & two. Two old school ways of interacting- polls and guest posting. Two new forms. The one thing I find troubling about the new forms that Jamie brings up, is that they are truly interactive. That is they require real time participation between blogger and visitor. Downside is that it is a serious commitment of time to do on a consistent basis. What I like about the old form of blogging, like the first two forms, is that I can set it and come back later to monitor. Freeing your time, set a live anything and your stuck.

  16. Thanks very good info, I too go with the idea where readers write for you! great post 1+

  17. nice tutorial
    i will follow on my blog to see if I get changes 😀

  18. I liked your idea of guest post central but I think this will be really successful only when you have a big community of bloggers. Still it’s a great idea and perhaps one day I will do this too. Thanks for sharing.

    Peter Lee

  19. Ben Pei says:

    Good pointers there.. Interactivity plays a big part in succeeding with your blog!

  20. shun2u says:

    yes..these are the tools i always interact with my readers.

  21. Great ideas! Another way that’s working for me lately is emailing to my list, but having the bulk of the email actually on the blog. This gets traffic, and also seems to bring some synergy to both the list and the blog.

  22. Anyone have a good example of a reader generated blog category wiki like mentioned above?

  23. Akmal says:

    hay john, i have a 100% positive feeling that i read the exactly same post somewhere else… either it was at problogger or somewhere else that i really don’t remember and i can’t find it now…. but i literally remember word by word of this article and i am 100% sure i read it somewhere else.

    1. Jamie Harrop says:

      Hey Akmal,

      I can only imagine you saw a scraper of John’s site, because this post hasn’t been published anywhere else. I wrote it on Thursday of last week. That’s the first time it has been written. And then John published it on the Friday. 🙂

      Just thought I would clear that up.

      Jamie

      1. That’s too bad. Scrapers suck.

  24. Wesley Green says:

    I think this post points out how important community is to a blog’s success. Not every way of interacting with your audience will work. But it is important to give each way a fair shot to see what works. Let your blog’s audience determine which ones they enjoy most and go from there.

    Wesley
    The Geek Entrepreneur

  25. I really like the Live Comments idea. That seems to be the only thing I haven’t tried.

  26. Darren says:

    Good stuff Jamie and John. Been a reader of both of your sites for some time now and you always have something notable to say.

  27. Karl Hadwen says:

    Thanks for this john, I might add some Polls to my blog over at http://www.genxor.com

  28. Li Weng says:

    That question of the day you do on twitter is pretty much a poll as well.

  29. uwak says:

    thanks for the tips john……great strategy…….

  30. Great post. It motivated me to add to some thoughts on my blog http://www.hiphopbloggers.net about some additional resources for interactivity.

    Kyle

  31. SEO Genius says:

    Excellent article. I plan to start using polls its something that has just started to become popular I think because I see it on all the blogs I read daily now.

    Some of the poll users do make the results in to interesting articles though which is great.

  32. pedagangIT says:

    nice and ood info bro..

  33. Clip Hair says:

    Good developmental ideas about blog post! I am waiting how soon I get interactive options in your blog.

  34. Takumi86 says:

    AGREED! point no 1 , 3 and 4 really hit on the spot but how about point no. 2? is that some sort of Blogger community or plug-in friends (the one that MyBlogLog and BlogCatalog used) ?

  35. video says:

    How do you allow your readers to interact with you and your blog?
    i dont know 😀

  36. I really like the last idea. A great way to interact with users and boost your blog’s comment meter.

  37. Angel Moreno says:

    Great ideas. I’m starting with a poll on my blog. I’ve activated the wp-polls plug in. Then I’ll go with the guest blogger thing.
    Oh, I submitted this to my digg so I can go back and review this post. Thanks for sharing.

  38. gendut says:

    very great strategy john…….all is making your visitor enjoy to read and coming again…thanks for sharing

  39. the guest blogging method is very interesting

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