In the early days of social media, before Twitter and before Facebook was open to non-students, there were blogs. And blogs were social. Bloggers built communities and got to know each other by posting comments on each other’s sites and using trackbacks.  These same strategies still work today if you are willing to invest the time.

I have built some wonderful friendships and good business relationships through comments on posts on other blogs.

Now Darren Rowse and Chris Brogan probably don’t notice  when I post a comment on their blog.  Receiving hundreds of comments each day, unless I am the first or second in the line, I will probably go unnoticed by them… but not their readers.

When these people, small business owners and social media pros like me see a comment that interests them, they are more likely to follow the link and possibly even say hello when they stop by.

So how do you turn this incidental traffic into relationships?

  1. Say hello.  Take the time to respond to every comment on your blog.  Until you are getting hundreds of comments, this simple touch will encourage conversation, showing readers you care about what they have to say.
  2. Drop them an email thanking them for their comment and inviting them back.  We use a WordPress plug in called Thank Me Later which sends notes periodically to visitors.  The hardest thing?   Writing the notes the first time so they sound casual and warm.
  3. Return the visit.  Take the time to drop by their site, and post a comment.
  4. Take advantage of track backs.  When you talk about someone, or reference their content, be sure to include track backs to their content.  Especially if you are both WordPress users, the email will alert you when you are tagged in the trackback, so you can go and say hi.
  5. Reach out on Twitter and Facebook not just with links but follow up comments and responses.  This interaction takes the conversation to a deeper level and make you more memorable.
  6. Share other people’s content – When you find interesting information add it to your blog.  I don’t mean just take their content.  Select an element and expand on it.  Add your perspective and ideas and then link back to the original site. The more valuable information you share, the more likely people will pay attention to you and share links to  your content too.

The bottom line – just like in the real world, you need to make an effort to build relationships. Give more then you get, say please and thank you, and your blog will become the kind of place people want to visit.