Guest post by Joey Feldman.
Authors and writers used to be people distant from the most of the world. Few of us regular people ever interacted with the kind of individuals who wrote books, magazine articles, or even newspaper stories. They were famous but unfamiliar, like Hollywood movie stars.
The Internet, and more specifically blogging and social media, has changed the world dramatically in terms of writer-reader interaction. Contemporary authors directly interact with their audiences—they are just one comment or one tweet away. Never before has such a situation occurred.
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There are many options and platforms available: newsletters, blogs, social networks, and publishing platforms like Medium just to mention a few. They provide continual opportunities to strengthen your connection with your readers.
Blogging is a must, but there’s no need to stop there. Here are three creative ways to interact with your readers beyond regularly writing blog posts.
“Ask Me Anything” Subreddit
If you are famous, or at least have had some out-of-the-ordinary professional or life experiences, consider hosting an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) thread on Reddit. Or jump into an existing thread and participate.
Using the AMA feature on Reddit, you can receive questions from readers, interact with them, and engage in heated discussions on a wide range of topics. Thanks to the “upvote” system, users can mark their favorite questions and comments. This helps you understand what your readers are most interested in.
In addition to direct communication between writers and authors, Reddit allows readers to communicate with each other. This enables you to organize your own community.
To create your AMA community, you need to first create a Reddit account (if you don’t already have one). After that, you need to open your own AMA thread; it only takes a few seconds. If you have additional questions, contact the moderators of the relevant subreddit. Specify the time period in which you are available to answer questions.
Why do you need to do this? Because AMA has a sidebar that contains scheduled events, and you can get on this list. This will provide some additional interest for your discussion.
Select the subreddit you are interested in, for example, r/scifi, if you are writing in this genre. This will serve as your starting point.
Instagram introduced Stories back in 2016. This feature has significantly changed the way people use the platform. Now, everyone can interact with each other directly. Stories allow you to post videos or images that are attached to the top bar of your subscribers’ screens. They disappear after 24 hours. You can embellish your post with text, stickers, active hashtags, and GIFs.
You may ask yourself, “I am the author of a blog. How can this help me interact with users?”
The Stories feature provides the ability to invite your subscribers directly. In particular, there is a Q & A feature. Since July 2018, users can add questions to their stories. The “ask me anything” window is attached as a sticker, and anyone can write you a question. After your answer, the story will be updated, and a new one will appear with the answer to the question posed.
Thus, as an author, you can have fun while being productive: choose the questions you think are good, and combine them with the funniest ones, but don’t forget about the serious ones (planned materials, your writing experience, etc.).
This feature allows you to conduct surveys within your Stories. To do this, attach the appropriate sticker and wait for the reaction from your connections and subscribers. As a blog author, you can use this function in various ways, such as discovering which blog topics are most interesting. This can help you plan future posts, adjust your timing and frequency of posting, and more.
If your inner introvert is ready to give in, you can run interactive chat rooms with a live audience. Live video will appear in the same place as Stories, and any subscriber can join the stream and take part in the chat. At the end of streaming, the live video window will disappear.
It’s also possible to place a replay of the video in Stories. Then any of your connections who missed the stream will be able to watch it.
Reddit + Instagram
Collect information using the methods above. Find out what your readers want through polls on Reddit and Instagram. Incorporate the suggestions into your next post. This interaction can help you create a closer bond to your community, building a whole new level of the relationship.
What to Ask?
To get a better understanding of your audience likes and dislikes, consider asking your readers the following:
- What topics would they like to see more often in your blog;
- Which heading or title is better for the next article;
- What style of writing do they find most appealing—for example, personal or formal?
These ideas can help you interact with your subscribers / connections / followers without direct contact. The feedback gathered will help you make adjustments to your blogging topics and practices that can impact the popularity of your blog and the quality of your content.