June 22, 2008

Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog

Filed under: Blogging Tips -- Darren Rowse @ 10:28pm

Today I’m blogging from a little local cafe that I’ve become a regular at and am watching the barista work her magic not only in making a great coffee but engaging the clientale that drop by for a takeaway coffee. As I write this there are 10 people milling around the counter, chatting, laughing, catching up on their weekends and talking about current events.

The strange thing is that none of these 10 people came in together – they are effectively a bunch of strangers – yet they’ve formed a wonderful little temporary community before my eyes.

I’ve been coming to this cafe for months now and on almost every occasion that I’ve come in there has been a line of people waiting for coffees – much like they are right now. At first I thought that it was just the quality of coffee that drew people in – but after a month or two of coming in I realized that it was the barista herself and her ability to quickly create connections.

So what can my barista friend (her name is ‘Cat’) teach us as bloggers about drawing people in, creating conversation and building community?

Passion about ‘Product’

Lets start with Cat’s core product – her coffee making. Cat can’t stop talking about coffee. Recently the cafe switched brands of coffee and on the day it happened she was so excited and talked about the coffee non stop all day. People are drawn to other passionate people.

Are you passionate about your core business as a blogger? Do you love your topic? Do you love communicating around that topic? If so – you’ll naturally draw people to you.

Quality Product

Cat is not only passionate about her coffee – she’s very good at making it. There are 10 or so cafes in my local area that I could pick a coffee up from – many are closer to my home than this one – but I’m happy to walk the extra distance for one of Cat’s coffees. People are drawn to quality.

As bloggers its important that the quality of your work is as high as possible. Work hard on developing your writing skills, develop a style and voice that connects with people, make your blog as visually pleasing as possible and ensure that what you blog about is more than ‘fluff’. Quality counts.

You-Centric

Cat naturally focusses upon those around her. The moment a new customer walks in the door she greets them, quite often with quite personal language. ‘Hi Darl…’, ‘Good morning beautiful….’, ‘Hi there (insert name)’…

Cat keeps track of what her regular customers are doing week to week and asks about family, holidays, work – she gets people talking about themselves. This happens to a point that people come in and start sharing their stories without her even having to ask.

People love to talk about themselves – they love to feel ‘noticed’ and ‘known’- they like to feel that people are interested in their lives.

Do you engage with your blog’s readers in a personal way? Do you respond to comments and reader emails? Do you make them feel valued? Is your blog more about you or your readers?

Shares Herself

The conversation in this cafe generally revolves around customers – however Cat also is more than happy to share her own stories and life with customers when they ask also. As someone who sits in this cafe for a couple of hours at a time I feel like I know a lot about Cat, her family and her life. I know when she’s had a good weekend and when she’s had a bad one – I know when she’s been sick, I know the movies she’s seen etc.

While I don’t generally advise bloggers to get personal in every post – I do think there are times and places when sharing something a little more personal can be a powerful thing. Be willing to share a little of yourself (with appropriate boundaries) and you’ll find that others are willing to open up to you too.

Fun/Personality

Cat is one of those people that people feel quite comfortable to share a joke with on the first time that they meet her. She teases customers, jokes with her co-workers, laughs a lot and in short is a lot of fun. None of this is forced – she’s naturally this way and she lets it flow out into her work. The result is infectious – customers have a lot of fun here.

As bloggers it’s important to find a voice and style that reflects who you really are. Not every blogger needs to be funny – but if you naturally are, allow this to come out in your blogging. If you’re a thinker, let your blogging reflect that, if you’re a more emotive/feeling type person – inject that into your blogging.

Make Connections

One of the best things that Cat does is that she doesn’t just focus upon one customer at a time – she involves us with one another. Standing in a line can be a boring thing – however Cat has a way of introducing people to one another that is very natural – she gets them talking with each other, not just her.

A good example of this is when I came in earlier in the week and told her that we’d just had a baby – she told 10 or so other customers my news over the next half an hour.

As a blog grows it can be difficult to give personal attention to every reader that comments on your blog – however if you can create a culture on your blog where readers talk to each other, help each other, ask and answer each other’s questions – you can create a community that doesn’t centre just around you.

Want to Learn More about Building Community on Your Blog?

35 Responses to “Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog”

  1. 1
    6 Lessons a Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog | Blogging & Writing

    [...] inspired me to write Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog. It probably additionally could have been called 6 Lessons My Barista Taught Me About Building [...]

  2. 2
    6 Lessons a Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog | Amabanal Network

    [...] inspired me to write Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog. It probably also could have been called 6 Lessons My Barista Taught Me About Building Community on [...]

  3. 3
    Katie

    This is a great article … I like what you say about sharing a little of yourself, thats something I think is difficult, how much is appropriate to share, when does sharing stop contributing to your article and start detracting, etc. Anyways, interesting read, the analogy of bloggers & baristas is a good one.

  4. 4
    isaac

    Thanks
    This is the exact issue I’m working on right now. I wish I was naturally more like cat. Once you find out what you are passionate about that part is easy. It’s the being vulnerable and open that takes some work for me. I am working on it.

  5. 5
    AMiRU

    I wish there is a ‘Barista’ here in my place, Of course there is a coffee house here, lol..
    Thanks Darren for another great post. Hopes that I will be able to write a good blog with those tips :-)

  6. 6
    Luke Zet

    Very interesting story! People like Barista have a special ability to communicate. Do you think all can make it happen? I think yes just a little practice and motivation is needed.

  7. 7
    Bill

    This article highlights the core reason why social media works. The concept of networking has been around forever. Online media is the great facilitator.

    bc

  8. 8
    Bill Weaver

    This is one of the best examples of how we are starting to come full circle back to the days of knowing each other and away from massive anonymity and its resultant poor service. Think personal connection and relationship vs. transaction and estrangement.

    More evidence that the industrial model of doing business is on its’ way out. Thanks for pounding the nails in its’ long over due coffin.

  9. 9
    Todd Andrews

    Great stuff! I think the passion is always the most important element. She’s passionate about her product and so are you guys. You then become passionate about the community.

  10. 10
    BizAdvice.org » Blog Archive » Passion Makes A Difference

    [...] "secrets" to success is Passion for your product.  Check out this Blog entry on Scribefire to learn more…. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers [...]

  11. 11
    Grant D Griffiths

    Great post Darren and I too love my favorite coffee shop and go there as often as I can. Just one other thing while I am here. I would not even come to Scribefire’s blog if it wasn’t for you posting here. Can’t you do something about the typeface color and the background color. It is so damn hard to read.

  12. 12
    Dustin Boston

    What a great post! It makes community building sound so easy!

  13. 13
    Carolyn

    Wow! What a great morning so far and I haven’t even gotten dressed yet! First, I opened up an inspirational story that a friend forwarded to me and it made me cry and then I opened this blog and it made me smile! My grown daughter and I are currently working on setting up our first websites and blogs. You are exactly right about doing what excites you. She just her job, but it maybe a blessing in desguise because now she can stay home with my grandbaby and work on something that she has wanted to do for years! We are so excited working on these projects because the developments are fun and we are passionate about the content and sharing! Great article. This is my first time here and you painted such a wonderful picture of Cat and the coffe house. I wanted to go there and talk to her and her customers. I wanted to stop by and congratulate you on your grandbaby. Keep up the good work!! P.S. Sorry this is so long ;-)

  14. 14
    Around the Web in Blogging | BlogOnExpo

    [...] Darren Rowse shares what a coffee shop taught him about building a community – Scribefire [...]

  15. 15
    David Zemens

    This is one of the best examples of how we are starting to come full circle back to the days of knowing each other and away from massive anonymity and its resultant poor service. Think personal connection and relationship vs. transaction and estrangement.

    More evidence that the industrial model of doing business is on its’ way out. Thanks for pounding the nails in its’ long over due coffin.

    This is a tremendous observation. Main Street is ont he rebound, and the large, unglamorous shopping malls are on the way out. I think.

  16. 16
    Kim Martinez

    I love this analogy. I am just this kind of person face to face, but am really trying to figure out the translation to cyberspace.

    It is easy when you are talking to people face to face, you can see their expressions, know whether they need encouragement, whether they need you to share or to be drawn out themselves… in cyberspace you have no visual clues.

    Could you elaborate a bit on how you gather people into the conversation? Granted, I’m a newbie and am working on traffic as much as anything. But in face-to-face conversations, I’d probably just put out the issues and wait for responses, then give my 2 cents. Would that work on a blog?

  17. 17
    yuvarlak.net » Blog Archive » 6 Lessons a Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog

    [...] inspired me to write Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog. It probably also could have been called 6 Lessons My Barista Taught Me About Building Community on [...]

  18. 18
    Patty

    Darren, What a great story about your Barista. It reminded me of this story about one of those quick mart gas stations that sold a great breakfast pizza. I don’t remember the lady’s name but she was wonderful at greeting everyone. She was way in the back of the store by the kitchen and the minute you walked in you heard her say, “Goodmorning Sweetie, how are you today” what can I get for you? It wasn’t fake but genuine. I loved her and didn’t care that the pizza cost what it did because it was fantastic Breakfast pizza loaded with love and passion. It was always busy there as well. Sit down tables where people were having their morning power coffee. So thank you for reminding me to be personal. I am just starting my blog and have changed to different topics three times.

  19. 19
    Avyaya

    This is surely a great post to go on. I really learned the way how the replies to the comments and the blog posts must be if you would like to establish a ‘connection’ with the readers. Thanks for sharing this.

  20. 20
    links for 2008-06-24 - Fast.Fwd.Innov@tion

    [...] Secrets to Good Community Conversation on Your Blog – ScribeFire: Fire up your blogging How to generate and lead a vibrant community? Here are some tips, taking the barista as an example. Nice piece of evangelism by Darren Rowse (tags: blogging community howto fastfwdinnovation darrenrowse) [...]

  21. 21
    Building Community with Your Blog : Reaching The Online Generation

    [...] recently wrote this guest post on another blog. You should check it out. Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking [...]

  22. 22
    links for 2008-06-24 | the markfr ditherings

    [...] Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog – ScribeFire: Fire up your blogging (tags: blogging community howto) [...]

  23. 23
    Van

    Great job! and i have a advice that ,can you add a function of “don’t remember the password”?
    You know,my parents sometimes use my computer,so it’s not a good idea to keep the password.

  24. 24
    edi

    This is good. I actually have two blogs, both with a very small yet consistent reader base. The readers never respond!! I don’t know if I’m giving them what they want or what their reaction may be to what I’m saying. Maybe I can use this to start to get something out of them!

  25. 25
    Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog

    [...] Great tips on what makes a great Blog. [...]

  26. 26
    Leigh

    One of the best articles I’ve read in a long time. Sometimes it seems really hard to get people to interact on a blog (although you can see from your stats at people at reading it.) Hopefully this will help give me a new perspective.

  27. 27
    Ken Stewart (ChangeForge)

    Darren, spot on as always. This lesson applies to more than just blogging. I have shared this with many of my co-workers as each of them is an inspiration to me on a daily basis on how to build rapport and community with our customers.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Warmest Regards,
    Ken Stewart (ChangeForge)

  28. 28
    Ken Burgin

    Great example and you’ve teased out the elements nicely. As someone in the hospitality business, I take one step back and ask ‘how do we find and retain’ people like Cat. And duplicate them when necessary…

  29. 29
    List Your Blog » Blog Archive » 6 Lessons a Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog

    [...] inspired me to write Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog. It probably also could have been called 6 Lessons My Barista Taught Me About Building Community on [...]

  30. 30
    6 Lessons a Barista Taught Me About Building Community on a Blog | blog post

    [...] inspired me to write Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog. It probably also could have been called 6 Lessons My Barista Taught Me About Building Community on [...]

  31. 31
    Danielle Batog » Well Said/Well Written: June 2008 Edition

    [...] ScribeFire: Secrets to Good Community and Conversation on Your Blog [...]

  32. 32
    obvious

    Does Cat happen to be hot?

  33. 33
    BTW » Blog Archive » Mistä puhua ja mistä ei...

    [...] tapani mukaan pääosin ammattillisiin teemoihin keskittyviä teemoja lehdistä ja blogeista. Eräästä blogitekstistä palautui jälleen mieleeni, että itsekin voisin hakea jonkin tai joitakin ammattillisia tai toisin [...]

  34. 34
    Cialismn

    Nice Article

  35. 35
    dış cephe

    Great article.Thanks.