You want people to comment on your blog, to subscribe to your newsletter, and to connect with you. After all, it’s why you started a blog in the first place.
But it can be downright maddening when you’re churning out high-quality content and people still aren’t interacting with it.
Your blog posts may not be the problem at all. The problem may instead lie in your blog’s personal touch, the personality your team brings to it.
If your team is operating completely behind the scenes, your blog may come off as robotic and impersonal.
People do business with people, not businesses.
The concept holds true in blogging. People follow blogs, share blog posts, and comment on posts not only because they like the ideas in the content but because they like the people who wrote it.
With a few simple tweaks to other areas of your site, you can see the engagement you initially hoped for. It all starts with putting the “human” back into your blog.
Start with the following tips to help you “humanize” your blog.
Use Team Headshots on Your About Page
It’s simple psychology. People like pictures of other people. KISSmetrics reported on a case study where the art-selling website Medalia Art performed an A/B test. They looked at how images of the artists’ paintings compared to images of the artists themselves.
Using the artists’ headshots resulted in a 95 percent increase in conversions! And the crazy thing is, it was the art they were selling, but they sold more when users saw the artists behind the paintings.
You can apply this same concept to your website.
Too often bloggers try to give their blog its own individual persona. They use the logo as the face of the blog and give it its own sort of “bio” by highlighting its founding date and awards.
While those aspects help build a brand around your blog, they can’t stand alone.
Show the real faces behind your blog, and people will start connecting with it more. Don’t be afraid to let your team members’ unique personalities shape your blog’s persona.
Take this example from Mirasee, formerly FirePole Marketing.
They list all 29 team members, each with their own bio and contact information page.
If you don’t like this approach or simply have too many team members to list, try to show real pictures of your team rather than using stock photos. It will add a personal touch that people can really connect with because, believe me, they’ll be able to spot a stock photo a mile away.
Here’s an example from Simply Measured’s about page:
Notice their whole team in the background?
Use Team Members’ Names on Posts
This may seem obvious if your team members are actually writing the posts, but too often I see blog posts that are written by “admin” or “editor.” This is common when the blog owner is purchasing content from a freelancer or agency but didn’t write it himself.
It’s okay to put your name to it as long as you’re not breaking your contract agreement. That’s what you’re hiring a ghostwriter for.
Even better, create a content calendar so that your team members can contribute their own original articles. This allows real people from your company to give your business a voice. That’s partially why you hired them, isn’t it? Because their personality fit well with your company culture?
When readers can put an author’s name to the content, they feel like they’re responding to a real person rather than a robot named “admin.”
If all your content gets thrown into a huge “pot” and there’s not really one author, still assign an author. This might be the blog’s founder, content manager, or blog editor, for example.
Show Headshots on Your Blog Posts
Similar to how you want to use team members’ photos on your about page, you’ll also want to utilize them on blog posts. You could, for instance, showcase the author’s headshot next to the post’s title like Kikolani does on the home page.
Want to know what difference it makes? In the past five months, posts on Kikolani without an author photo have averaged 8.5 comments. Those with an author photo averaged almost 27 comments. That’s over three times as much engagement!
Now, I realize that correlation doesn’t equal causation, but that’s a pretty big difference if you ask me.
Another area to place author photos is in the author bio.
This can be powerful because it’s usually in plain sight at the same time your blog post’s call-to-action is visible. So when people reach the end of your post and you encourage them to leave a comment, they can see exactly who they’re responding to. That makes the entire engagement process more personal.
However, author bio boxes like this don’t typically come as default, at least not if you’re using WordPress.
Some popular author bio plugins include:
- Simple Author Box
- Sexy Author Bio
- Fancier Author Box by ThematoSoup
- Starbox – The Author Box For Humans
Most plugins like this will connect with Gravatar, making it easy to display author headshots across the site, including for guest authors.
Encourage Team Members to Respond to Comments
A lot of times I see blogs manage the abovementioned tips well but then fall behind in the comment section. Aside from social media, this is where a huge amount of your engagement will occur, but what happens when no one responds to blog comments?
It seems like you don’t care. Even worse, it can seem like your content is automated when no one is actually hanging around the blog.
Encourage your team to respond to comments, and not just on posts where they’re the author, but on all posts. This creates a social atmosphere and assures commenters that real people are listening to them.
Just be sure you’re leaving genuine, thoughtful replies. Something like, “Thanks for commenting!” can also seem automated.
It’s also a good idea to connect your team members’ accounts with their Gravatar profiles so commenters can put a face to who’s responding to them.
That way, you get a comment section that looks like this:
Instead of this:
Notice how much more personal and humanized the first set looks?
Sign Your Social Updates With Team Member Initials
Social media is an integral part of your blog that’s just as important to driving engagement as the blog content itself is. However, it can be hard to infuse the “human” aspect into your social channels when all your team members are tweeting and sharing from the same account. It’s not like you can set up different profiles to tweet from the same Twitter account.
The solution is to have your team members sign their name or initials at the end of your posts. That way, your followers know who’s talking, and they can connect the idea to an individual rather than your business as a whole.
Of course, you sometimes want to post your ideas from your business’s perspective, such as if you’re sharing new posts.
Signing your social updates is helpful when personally responding to comments. It helps validate that a real person is truly behind the posting and, again, that it’s not automated.
Here’s an example from Buffer:
@MikeKoshko Amazing! Thanks so much for the update, Mike! 🙂 -Darcy
— Buffer (@buffer) February 5, 2016
Use a Headshot on Social Media Instead of the Blog’s Logo
Although this won’t work for every business, it does work out for some blogs, especially if you’re running your blog on your own or you have a small team. Then you’ll typically use the founder/blog owner’s headshot.
People connect with other people rather than objects and logos.
Take this example from Freelancer FAQs. Owner Elna Cain uses her own headshot with a small logo in the corner:
Not only does this help create a more personal connection, but it helps followers recognize the blog owner across the Internet, such as in guest posts and other online profiles.
Katie Wagner points out on LinkedIn:
Lately I’ve seen an increase in a certain type of hiding – one that will actually hurt your online presence: refusing to use your picture on your accounts… When someone withholds information, we often feel as if they are trying to hide something. This is especially true on social media. Whether you love the way you look, or (like most of us) have a list of things you would like to change, using your image on social media is an important part of social networking.
Be conscious of when a headshot is appropriate. For example, a headshot may not make sense on a blog’s Twitter profile if you have a huge content team. However, your blog’s founder would want to use his headshot on his LinkedIn profile.
Putting the “human” aspect into your blog can help readers connect with you in ways they couldn’t otherwise. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to “humanize” your blog once you’re conscious of what needs changing.
Which one of the mentioned tips will you start with to connect your team with your readers?