Blogs – The New Relationship Builder

BlogForget about the Real Housewives. The “real” reality happens every day on the platform known as social media—and, in particular, blogging. Nowhere is that more apparent than in power blogger Heather Armstrong’s announcement that she and her husband were separating. And she did it via her blog.

Dubbed the Queen of the Mommy Bloggers by The New York Times, she chronicles her life as a mother and wife as well as her struggle with postpartum depression. How successful is the blog? It attracts 100,000 readers per day and reportedly generates $40,000 a month in advertising.  Oh, yeah, Heather, a/k/a Dooce, has been on Oprah, too.

So it’s no surprise that her announcement was followed by a tidal wave of support and sympathy from faithful readers, who posted hundreds of comments. It also attracted mainstream media attention, including an article on The New York Times.

Dr. Anita Blanchard, an associate psychology professor at UNC Charlotte, blogged about why readers (including the doctor herself) were affected by the split. She wrote:

So two things occur to me here:  1) Dooce is stored in the “friend” section in the conceptual map of our social networks, even though we don’t know her.  2) When something unusual happens to her, at least some of us feel the need to sensemake about her experience with “real life” others.

What does the marital life of a mommy blogger have to do with social media and business?

Something else Dr. Blanchard wrote is worth noting: “I think this provides more evidence (do we really need it?) that mediated communication has real effects on people who are distant from each other.

It’s true that small business bloggers aren’t often given to sharing life-changing revelations with their audiences–although it does happen. I recently shared a personal story of my own.  For obvious reasons, though, we’re more inclined to share how-to’s, advice, or insight. But that doesn’t mean that small business blogs can’t build relationships. So here are tips for helping those relationships along:

  • Be you. Gone are the days when computer users preferred to anonymously communicate behind avatars and wacky screen names. Business in the virtual world demands trust, and trust demands authenticity. So be you. (Okay, the business lunch version of you, not the dancing all night with gal pals you.)
  • Start yakkin’. Got people talking? Talk right back with them. Of course, it’s always good form to say “Thanks” when someone shares a nice word or two. But part of good social media relationship building also entails responding to people who disagree with you.
  • Get to know your peeps. As you build a regular following, check out the blogs or other social media channels of the people commenting on your content. Comment on their blogs and share links to them on your own.

Blogging gives small businesses the power to connect with audiences and build relationships. Sometimes they become profitable relationships; but they can become real-life friendships, too.

So what do you think?


Image courtesy of photostock.

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