5 Tips to Make Friends of Your Followers

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

I mentioned my obsession with So Obsessed With last month when I opened your eyes to some of the best book blogs around. Besides being ridiculously creative, Hannah is also quite skilled at making connections online. I, for one, don't even begin to know how to make that transition so I'm grateful Hannah has plenty of tips to help! 

I created my blog in 2011 and jumped right into following, posting and commenting. My actions helped me grow my blog's audience, but they didn't necessarily help me build relationships. Having blog readers is a wonderful thing, but making friends can be even better! In many ways, it's the friends I've made through blogging that have made it all worthwhile. But how do you make that leap from followers to friends? It took me until 2013 before I started to figure out what I could do to bridge the gap:

1. Be active on social media.

You can join every social media outlet or just one. That's up to you, but you don't have to be on them all to connect with people. Personally, I like Twitter best so that's what I'll use as my example. Before I knew what I was doing, I honestly thought it was a waste of time. Now, I realize its helped me connect to the blogging community in ways I never would've imagined. It's changed my blogging experience!

When I first signed up, I rarely used it. I followed people, but I wasn't really posting anything. I didn't know what to say, and I almost never looked at what other people were posting. I was completely missing out on the discussions already happening around me and on the opportunity to start some conversations myself. So, the first step for me was to become active on Twitter. I had to go from creeping to chatting.

2. Share a mix of content.

I finally started tweeting, but it was mostly scheduled tweets linking to my own blog posts at first. While it was a good beginning, people don't really want to follow an account that's strictly promotional. I thought about the people I enjoyed following on Twitter, and I realized that they all shared a mix of content. They didn't just talk about themselves, and it wasn't all scheduled tweets.

When you're sharing promotional content, it helps if it's written in an engaging way. Think of what would make you want to click on a link if you saw it on Twitter. But don't stop there! Tweet things that feel a little more personal - reactions to a TV show, a picture when it's beautiful outside, etc. Spread the love, too. Share posts you've read and enjoyed, and tag the blogger in your tweet while you're at it.

3. Join conversations.

As you start to achieve a balance with your tweets, it's then time to start talking with people! Sometimes you'll be the one starting a discussion, but you'll often find yourself joining a conversation. In some instances, it's responding to a question that's been asked. For example, I follow lots of people who ask about weekend plans, what people are reading, etc. That's a simple and easy way to join a conversation!

There are other times when you'll see people talking about something, and you'll have thoughts on the topic. How do you jump into an existing conversation? Honestly, this is something you figure out as you go along. Most people don't mind when you throw in your two cents, but make sure you actually have something to add. I wouldn't recommend joining a conversation just to promote yourself or to try to gain followers.

4. Look for common interests.

If you blog about a certain topic, you're likely following a lot of bloggers with that same interest. For me, that's books. Book bloggers make up the majority of people I follow on Twitter, so my feed at any given point is predominately book-related conversations. Obviously, that's a HUGE interest that we all have in common, but that's just a starting point!

While my blogging friendships may have started with books, those bloggers became friends because we had so much more in common. The bloggers I now call friends are all people that I'd want to hang out with in real life, and I have a lot of interests that go beyond books in the "real world." It's fun to figure out what you have in common with people - and you become better friends with people the more you get to know them!

5. Start talking offline.

I don't have any advice on how to know when the time is right to start chatting with people privately, but I think you'll know when you get there. At a certain point, you'll probably find yourself wishing you could talk to certain people more often or even outside of the public sphere. At that point, you can continue the conversation Google Chat, emailing or even by exchanging phone numbers.

Honestly, this step depends a lot on your comfort level and how well you think you know someone. It's okay to be hesitant about sharing your phone number. I always err on the side of caution! In the past, I've moved from Twitter conversations to email or GChat first. There's usually a natural progression to every friendship offline, and that's true with people you meet online, too.

And Then What?

Some bloggers establish friendships with a bunch of people, and other bloggers prefer to have a smaller circle of close friends. Either way, I think it's important to keep reaching out and engaging with a wide variety of people. It's an awesome feeling when you find "your people," but it's awful if it leaves other people feeling excluded. Be thoughtful about your online interactions and look for opportunities to be an active part of the blogging community as a whole.

I love blogging for many reasons, but the friends I've made because of it are at the top of my list. I never would have imagined that I'd actually meet people online that I would end up talking to everyday offline. I'm so thankful that I found them! It may take some time, and it will definitely take some work, but you can absolutely find friends through blogging. And it's an incredible feeling when you do!

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