Increasing Blog Traffic: Trolls and Drive By Readers

attracing blog readersThere’s a new “increasing blog traffic” tactic being touted (I wish I could remember where I read this now) where leaving troll like comments is being encouraged as a way to increase blog traffic.

When I use the word “troll“, I’m not talking about a fictitious, mythological creature who is obnoxious, hideous and dedicated to achieving evil ends.

Instead, I’m talking about someone who fits this description of a troll at Wikipedia

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

In essence, an internet troll does share the mythical creatures bent for evil, but it’s important to remember that a troll is not offering his/her authentic opinions, which may or may not offend someone. Instead of commenting to share an opinion, the troll offers comments with one intention – to stir the emotions of other readers.

While troll like behavior is being touted as a great way to increase blog traffic, I’d have to guess that instead, this kind of post just merely creates Toxic Conversation.

The quality of readers you attract with troll like comments are what I call “Drive By Readers”.  They may subscribe to your RSS, but they provide little value to your blog other than boosting your RSS subscriber count.  If they came as the result of your troll comment, they’re seeking emotional juice.  They’re at your blog to see more of what you delivered via the comment section they just read.  They’re at your blog with the purpose of seeing who you shredding now.

If your goal is to be a Blog Shock Jock, then leaving troll like comments will be a great investment of your time.

trollHowever, the other side of that coin is the blog owner where you’re making those disruptive comments.  As a blog owner, it’s hard to know what to do about Trolls. Defining troll like activity is the first step and sometimes that’s the hardest step of all.   Wikipedia has an explicit DNFTT (Do Not Fee The Trolls) policy.

Trolling is a deliberate, bad faith attempt to disrupt the editing of Wikipedia. Ignorance is not trolling. Genuine dissent is not trolling. … They are only trolling when they are motivated by a program of malice rather than ignorance or bias. This requires a judgment of the personal motivation for another’s action.

And that my friend is the problem with defining a troll.  A troll is defined by his/her INTENTIONS and usually it’s hard to determine those intentions with a single comment.    Is the person leaving frequent comments really a troll, or just someone who needs educated?

The advice I frequently share with clients is this: your blog is YOUR playground.  You provide the playground so you can make the rules.  If you think someone’s comments are troll like, then it’s your right and privilege to enforce a strict DNFTT policy.  In other  words, if you think it’s a troll, then it’s a troll.

Have you had problems with trolls on your blog yet?   If so, how have you handled it?

Blogs as a Means of Building Trust through Communication

BLogs are a great communication tool which is why they’re GREAT marketing tools for the business involved in making intangible sales.  Trust is a huge issue when you’re selling “nothing but air”… which is all you’re selling when you’re selling your knowledge and services.

However, in order to establish a rapport with your target audience, you must first demonstrate that you are indeed qualified to speak on the subject.  Which brings to mind a joke that recently appeared on Comedy Central.com:

A guy was seated next to a 13-year-old girl on an airplane. Being bored, he turned to the girl and said, “Let’s talk. I’ve heard that flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”

The girl, who was reading a book, closed it slowly and said to the guy, “What would you like to talk about?”

Oh, I don’t know,” said the guy. “How about nuclear power?”

“OK,” she said. “That could be an interesting topic. But let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow and a deer all eat the same stuff… grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, and a horse produces clumps of dried grass. Why do you suppose that is?”

The guy thought about it and said, “Hmmm, I have no idea.”

To which the girl replied, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss nuclear power when you don’t know shit?”

Your blog readers are asking the same question…. what basics do you need to demonstrate your understanding of before you engage in the real conversation with prospective clients or customers?

One thing about blogging… it’s hard to hide what you do and don’t know over the course of hundreds of blog posts.    Blogging is great when you’re open to engaging in the Art of Transparency.  However, if you don’t know shit… then blogging can be a real pain.

Trust Building Business Practices

The letters on the soap box I stand upon frequently around here read “Building Trust”.  Blogs are great trust building tools.  They offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.

Trust is so hard to gain and so easy to lose, which is why business owners must pay careful attention to follow trust building business practices.

Building trust is such a HUGE part of marketing and advertising, yet I don’t hear anyone talking about trust and marketing in those terms. Marketing is just an invitation to your business. Advertising is paying to deliver those invitations.

However, if you aren’t engaged in trust building business practices… how can your marketing invitations build trust as well?

Trust is a HUGE deal for anyone engaged in making Major Sales.

5 Essential Trust Building Business Practices

1: Under promise… over deliver

Trust is established when behavior matches expectations. Set the expectations too high and you’ll destroy the trust you’re trying to build with current and potential customers.

The easier software way of creating marketing messages is to scream “Bigger Faster Stronger” . However, the dirty little secret that marketing professionals know is that when you set expectations too high, return rates can run 25% and higher for products marketed in that fashion – for services, those rates can run even higher.

However, when your marketing messages set realistic expectations and you end up delivering more than your marketing messages promise – well, that’s what it takes to ignite the holy grail of marketing… word of mouth advertising!

2: Transparency = Trust

If you’re transparent with your customers as well as with your employees, then you’ll be laying a foundation for building trust.

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic.

For example, I have a friend who works in sales training for a large company. The company has been calling for employees to make sacrifices for the good of the company. They’ve had to turn in their corporate credit cards and they’ve had to share hotel rooms on trips. Imagine their surprise, not to mention disgust, when the CEO drove into work one day in his brand new Bentley.

Word of the CEO’s new ride spread like wildfire throughout the company. Within a few weeks, sales had taken a dramatic downturn and suddenly, the sales training department was assigned the task of coming up with outlining a new marketing campaign to increase sales. (Don’t you LOVE how corporate works!)

Oh, did I mention that the top 6 sales reps left the company in the three months following the CEO’s new car purchase?

Transparency’s hard when you’re not being authentic. Losing trust almost always hurts the bottom line.

3: Focus on meeting your customer’s needs.

When your customer does business with you, it’s because your customer expects you to provide a product or service for them. They are not patronizing your business merely to fatten your wallet or improve your bottom line.

Your customers are doing business with you to meet their needs – to satisfy their wants – to solve their problems. When your focus is upon meeting your customer’s needs… you’re automatically engaging in trust building activities.

4. Make it easy for customers to buy….

I am AMAZED at how hard some companies make it to do business with them. If I, as a potential customer, have to chase you down to get you to take my money, how hard is it going to be to reach you when I have a problem AFTER you have my money and I’ve become your customer?

Trust me, if customers are having to chase you down for the opportunity to buy your product or service… you’ll soon be facing competition that will make it easy to buy the product or service you’re offering. PERIOD.

5: First Impressions Mean a Lot!

Trust is so hard to gain but so easy to lose and little things mean a lot, especially in the beginning.  Dead links on a website… a typo in the sales letter… a forged testimonial…. all can destroy the trust needed for a potential client or customer to make the move from potential to paying.

The obvious point to make here is make sure all your marketing materials make a GREAT first impression.  The old “design vs content” debate doesn’t apply.  Design + Content = Professional Presentation!

For example, I was visiting a blog about business blog consulting.  The design is less than crisp and professional, so that should have been my first clue.  There are 6 different business blog consultants who publish articles on this blog.  They’re great articles… but when you click to learn more you get broken links and error messages.

If you’re in the market for a business blog consultant, you’ve got to ask yourself… are you willing to trust these people with your business blog?  If the links on their own blog don’t work – links which promise to lead to you to the information you need to go about HIRING them- how can you trust them to build links on your blog that work?

Hey, believe me, I know that broken links happen ALL the time.  However, this wasn’t just one broken link – it was several.  One was simply the result of putting two sets of [http://] in the link.  The thing is- these people claim to be blog professionals and that’s a rookie mistake!

Blogs are great trust building tools.  When done correctly, they offer businesses the opportunity to begin the difficult process of building TRUST with potential clients and customers.