Hi friends! I hope you all are doing okay 💛
I’m…. well, to be completely honest, I am a little nervous about posting this, but I also really wanted to talk about this for a while, so…. here goes.
Today, I wanted to talk about engagement in the blogging community. Engagement can be wonderful, but sometimes it’s just fake and I just don’t believe in these kind of practices, at ALL. SO I’m going to rant about it all. Bear with me, okay?
Please note that I am talking about engagement in book blogging, on book blogs specifically, since that’s my niche. I bet there’d be things to say about engagement pods on bookstagram and engaging on twitter and so on, for sure, but that’s not what my post is focused on.
What do you mean, “fake engagement” in blogging?
I know this sounds like a strange concept, but hear me out. As a book blogger, and most generally a blogger, I have been noticing a lot of initiatives, both on social media and blogs, to help grow your engagement.
Let me tell you first and forehand: there is nothing wrong with wanting to grow your engagement. Talk to more people! Make genuine connections! Friends! Grow your blog! Yes, yes, yes and yes to all of this, I completely am on board with engaging with bloggers, as you hopefully all know. My issue is: it just feels wrong when it’s fake.
Now, you’re going to ask me again: okay. This is all good, Marie, but what do you MEAN by fake?
I mean these…
1. These “I am commenting back” threads and initiatives.
OKAY HEAR ME OUT on this. I APPRECIATE the initiative of commenting back. I, more often than not, do it myself when I am able to (I mean… I need more hours in the day to check my 6-pages-long-and-growing blogs-list…..) and have something to comment on and want to engage, too.
What I don’t really like is seeing this particular trend of posts, especially on social media. They go like this: “hey here’s my post, I’m giving back all comments on this post.”, or these blogging threads where you share your latest post and ask for comments on it. I’ll admit it: I haven’t seen this happen a lot in the book blogging niche, but it could, and it happens a lot in other blogging niches.
I understand the principle. It feels nice to do something kind for others this way. It feels lovely to create a thread of amazing blog posts and see what’s up there, too.
But personally, I don’t want to post on these threads and leave my latest blog post here. Similarly to these instagram pods you join to get more engagement, I don’t want to join these things because I don’t want people to comment on my blog, expecting something back from me. I want them to comment because they genuinely enjoyed what I have to say. No strings attached. I know. Sounds dreamy, right.
Another issue I have with these things is that…. it feels a little fishy. It feels like you NEED these threads, these prompts, or, as you can often see it on book blogs, this little “I’m commenting back” logo on the side of some blogs, to check out a blogger, take some time to leave a comment and this just makes me… well, sad.
I appreciate threads asking for new bloggers, yes (like this wonderful thread compiled by May). I also appreciate threads like, hey I haven’t been blog hopping in a while, send me your posts (like this lovely thread!) This is nice.
These other kind of threads and commenting back initiatives I mentioned before, well… they seem like fake engagement to me. Why? Because it doesn’t feel genuine.
Because it’s not genuine, not really.
2. Meaningless comments just meant for your own promotion
Once again: don’t get me wrong. I appreciate any kind of comment and length, but sometimes you can just tell when someone only cares about themselves. It’s a “great post, check out my blog” kind of comment. It’s not real. You can actually see they haven’t even read a single line of your blog post and it’s frustrating.
And you know what? You don’t actually need to do that for people to check out your blog.
3. Fake boosting of book bloggers.
I want to take a moment to talk about a thing. This thing is, summed up in a couple of words: “Boost book bloggers and we’ll boost you back”.
I’m not going to be more specific, I just want to talk about this initiative that exists and that has been quite popular on twitter. Basically, all you have to do is to boost book bloggers’ blog posts, and you’ll get boosted in return. This happens, yes. It seems like a sort of instagram-pod kind of thing, really. Seems nice, right?
I don’t find this nice, nor great, AT ALL. You know why? The fact that this kind of this exists makes me wonder: you can’t boost book bloggers on your own without being pushed to do so? You’re doing it in order to get something back? Well…. wow. I’m just not on board with these kind of things.
I mean… it’s just so easy to boost bloggers genuinely and get something genuine back, instead of participating in these and wondering every single day if people are here because they want to be, or because they’re following these prompts and expecting something back.
Okay, but why isn’t this great engagement for your blog?
I mean, to each their own. If you like/do these kind of engagement things I mentioned above and appreciate them, I’m not here to judge, YOU DO YOU.
Personally, I find this fake and irritating. Why? Because I can’t help but wonder:
Is it really support if they’re looking to get something back?
FAIR DISCLAIMER: I’m not putting everyone in the same basket here and saying that everyone doing these and joining, daily, weekly, or just every now and then, in these kind of practices, are wrong and terrible, okay. I am just saying that, personally, I don’t think there’s any need to.
At first, these ideas seem great, of course. You’ll get comments back, yes. You’ll get new visitors, views, your views might spike up when you’re boosted a little bit. Seems fantastic, doesn’t it?
It’s fleeting, though. It comes and goes and the day you aren’t boosted, the days there aren’t these commenting threads, the day you’re taking a break on commenting on these blogs with that “I am commenting back” badges…. it all goes away, too. Your engagement doesn’t grow in a consistent way, because when the boosting initiatives stop, so does your engagement. People that have been there for you through this will most likely disappear, leaving you with the rush you get after the holidays are over. Some of the excitment is still there, but fading as you realize nothing exciting’s happening now, or tomorrow, until the next time you can see this little glimpse of vacation on your calendar.
Most of it all, YOU do NOT need these things to get good engagement on your blog, to market your blog successfully and, most of it all, to be happy blogging (isn’t that all we want?). By just being kind and supportive on your own, you can get all the support in the world you’ve ever wanted and more, because this community IS wonderful and genuine and don’t need these things.
☂️ Related blog post: Why and how you should support book bloggers
What do I need to do to get engagement on my blog, then?
Find new book blogs to follow and engage with
First things first: I know you all might be wondering: okay, but I am finding new blogs by hopping onto these “fake” things, as you call them, Marie, so how the heck do I find them now?
Well… you can very easily. I mean, all you have to do is:
- Check out one blog, then another….
- through the blogs’ comments,
- through social media,
- through people doing threads I actually enjoy on social media, just asking people to share their blog links, for instance. Without strings attached.
- For the Book Blogger Awards, May and I compiled a list of 492 book bloggers, so that can help, too.
- Ask on social media for people to share their blogs with you!
- Read people’s monthly wrap-ups and blog posts where they often share blog posts from bloggers and recommendations, because the community is genuinely that wonderful without looking for anything back but to spread the love.
Give your readers something to engage with
If you want engagement, you have to show that you’re open to it. Okay, I know, now you’re wondering: how the heck do I do that?
Well… to put it simply, just ask yourself: what makes YOU genuinely want to engage with other bloggers? Then, do that on your own blog, too.
For me, it’s:
- The blog in general: these very superficial, very first-appearance-based things, like the blog’s layout and readability,
- The blog posts themselves: are they great to read, with paragraphs that aren’t too long, with images, do they make me want to comment on it, do they ask for my opinion with questions at the end of it….
Put yourself out there and genuinely engage with bloggers
Without any kind of prompts or anything or anyone to push you to do it. That’s when it’s genuine.
I know. Engagement needs to be built. It feels stressful, nerve wracking, terribly anxiety-inducing, too. Take it step by step and believe in it, because people are kind and welcoming, really.
How do I put myself out there and promote my blog, then?
Without using anything of these fake initiatives I mentioned above, it’s easy to promote your blog, too! Here are two easy ideas:
- Blog hop and comment on other blogs! Genuinely. Without adding “check out my blog” in your comment, because there’s no need. 95% of book bloggers check out their commenters’ blogs without them having to ask. I do. If that can help, here’s how I blog hop.
- Promote your blog posts on your social media! Tweet about your posts regularly! Post about them on your instagram stories! Create a Pinterest and pin about it all!
I’m not going to lie: you will encounter people never answering your comments, no matter how kind. People never building up conversations on blogs, people never blog hopping, people never talking back with you. That’s okay. You also will encounter people you’ll end up ranting with for ages and will love. It’s all a matter of time and finding the right people.
Once you start, all you have to do is interact genuinely, with your heart. I mean: isn’t it the best when someone recognize your hard work on your blog, by leaving a sweet and heartwarming comment, by sharing your post and spreading some love for your work? Don’t you want to give others that same feeling they give you? That’s genuine and so much more rewarding than anything else.
Engage with everyone at your own pace
I know. Interacting genuinely takes time and energy and that’s why it’s so important to interact at your own pace. I don’t care about people taking time, taking hiatuses, not commenting and interacting every time. We are all human after all and no one should EVER force themselves to interact. All I care about are the wonderfully genuine connections you can build, by yourself, just by being yourself.
Slowly but surely, you’ll find minds alike and build genuine connections, yes comments here and there, maybe stats spiking up so yayy, but MOST IMPORTANTLY, you will without realizing it, build a network of support, love and friendships, too.
Genuine engagement will help you grow as a blogger, authentically and I think that’s the most beautiful thing.
Don’t engage expecting something back
I know. We’re all human and we’re going to expect things, no matter how hard we try not to. We’re going to expect building up a conversation, a friendship, we’re going to expect to grow and more.
It’s hard to engage, to take time to genuinely engage with everyone and not to expect something back, I know.
I think what matters the most is to approach engagement as something to build up in order to build interaction and FUN. Not statistics. Yes. Engagement can make your statistics spike up and grow your blog, that makes sense, but don’t go expecting that. THAT is what fake engagement things are for, too. They expect growth.
The thing is : book blogging isn’t a monetary exchange (we’d know if we’d make money, ah ha.). Book blogging isn’t a exchange of services and goods. It’s a labour (yes, because it’s work!!), but it’s a labour of love. So engage with love, genuinely, by yourself, and with expectations of conversations with great bookish people.
☂️ Related blog post: My top 5 tips to interact with the book blogging community
This is how I try my best to engage with the book blogging community every day.
That’s what I am trying to do and that’s what I am aiming for with my blog.
To post regularly, to put myself out there, to engage with the content I genuinely enjoy.
To share my favorite posts each month in my monthly wrap-up, to support book bloggers and their work, to boost their voices without any kind of prompt or agenda.
To be authentic and myself and talk truthfully about these kind of things in blog posts just like this one.
Yes. It might take me a bit of time to engage with the community sometimes, with life and everything else, but I always want to do it as genuinely as possible. By reading your posts, by commenting on them, sharing them, without agenda or any kind or expectations, either.
My only expectation is to share the love for book bloggers’ work and it’s my only hope that you’ll all do the same yourself, without needing any kind of prompt to do so. Because you’d expect the same from others for you.
On that topic, my friend Kate @ Your Tita Kate wrote an amazing post about how to make friends in the bookish community, a lovely read if you want more tips!
☂️ In case you’re interested in supporting book bloggers’ work, you can now vote for the 2020 Book Blogger Awards up until August, 16th, 2020, right here!
Did you ever participate in these kind of engagement initiatives? How do you engage with the community? Any tips and tricks to share?
Quick question: would you be interested in a blog post about how to promote your blog? Or any other blogging topic you’d like me to cover? Let me know in comments!