The first commandment of blogging is that all writers should spend time getting to know who their readers are, what they like, what they dislike and what it is that draws them all to any given site to begin with.
Commonly most website owners will attempt to do this by reaching out to their audience through social media, or by installing comment sections on their sites. Unfortunately, by doing this they are only appealing to the vocal minority, people who for various reasons of their own already feel compelled to interact, when in most cases a large number of your followers will simply absorb whatever it is you are offering before moving on to their next interest.
Both of these kinds of followers are important parts of the online community you should be hoping to foster on your site. Many people make the mistake of only focusing on their ‘active’ members, the vocal minority who will often end up holding almost as much sway over a site as its creator. When in fact the passive community is at least as important as the active one, if not more so (as there tends to be more passive members than active ones, plus many people are only inclined to say something when they want to complain).
Getting your passive followers to interact with you can be a challenge, as they tend to be completely disinterested in the methods that are successfully employed to get feedback from your active followers. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, just that you will need to make additional efforts to try and get your passive audience to open up to you.
I find that the most successful methods of asking my usually silent readers for their opinions are through the use of personality orientated quizzes and incentive driven surveys.
Quizzing Your Readers
You only have to look at Facebook to know that people love taking quizzes which tell them something about themselves. It doesn’t even matter whether it tells them something which makes any sense, as for every “How Smart Are You?” or “What’s Your IQ?” test that someone takes, someone else is wasting time finding out “What Kind of Transformer Are You?” or “How Long Could You Survive A Zombie Apocalypse?”
The key is to identify the kind of quizzes which your site visitors are likely to find appealing, then actually generating those quizzes (which should be fun for your followers to take), whilst also providing you with the answers to valuable information that you want to know.
Once you have a clear idea of what kind of quizzes you want to use to appeal to your community, there are a host of online testing tools you can use to help you embed a test onto your site. ProProfs.com is one of the best, offering free and paid membership, which allows users to set up various kinds of tests and polls, with images, videos, multiple choice, multiple grading systems and a complete set of analytical reports showing the results.
The reports from ProProfs are what makes them such a great tool, as you can see from the results displayed below, there are plenty of options relating to the retrieval of information from completed quizzes.
You will see the list of all attempts and details of each one:
You will also be provided with various visualization tools:
Surveying the Fold
Surveys are often the most useful way to get deeper insight into what it is your customers want. Unfortunately, most people aren’t really inclined to fill out a long survey, which is why it can be a good idea to promote completing the survey with your community by offering some form of incentive, such as a giveaway, competition, coupons or other forms of discounts.
Just as with the quizzes there are third party sites such as Survey Monkey that can be utilized for creating and hosting surveys. Though for blog writers using WordPress there are survey plugins available that let you host everything on your own site, which gives the advantage of maintaining privacy regarding the data collection.
If you know of any other ways of calling your passive community to action, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!