Localism: Winning the Hearts and Minds
It’s ironic that newest member of the Vine, Jonathan Greene, chose to write an article that completely defines the reason we want him here in the first place. Jonathan writes with a clear understanding of how he wants to educate and delivers his knowledge in a refreshing and compelling manner.
Jonathan also happens to be one of our newest re-design clients. Look for his grand re-opening later in the month.
Localism: Winning the Hearts and Minds
I read lots of local blogs. Mostly, I read for the purpose of gathering intelligence. I can’t help it. My days as a shadowy secret agent type in the military have made me a perpetual seeker of targeted information. I want to know what works. I’ve stumbled upon an unspoken truth in my web travels: You don’t have to be a nationally recognized pundit to offer quality, readable content for your viewers. Some local blogs are good. Some local blogs suck.
The idea of a hyper-local blog is to become the respected (and oft read) expert on a given area for all things real estate related. That being said, I think I’ve determined what types of local blogs I (and your readers) like the most: those that win the hearts and minds. Let me explain.
Winning the minds: This is (presumably) the easy part. You just find some useful information and put it on your blog. People will come because your useful information contains keyword rich text (right?). Then, the people read the informative stuff that you write, and they learn….thus becoming less stupid and helping me enjoy the world a little more. For this, you have done a great deed. You’ve done the world a service.
Winning the minds should be the goal of the factual information that you put into your posts. If you offer something analytical, informative, and different than what your competitors are offering, then you’re doing your job. To this end, feel free to include statistics, charts, graphs, analysis, and big words so smart people can get their intellectual workout (see John Lockwood’s posts).
So having done due diligence to get people to show up at your site and to offer them something useful, you’re feeling pretty good about life. However, if you fail to address people on an emotional and psychological level, they’re likely to write you off as an information depository rather than an actual human being, the effect of which is a long and lonely life of internet isolationism. Trust me; you don’t want to go there. So, your new goal becomes winning the hearts.
Winning the hearts: If winning the minds is a science, winning the hearts is an art form. You’re offering the reader much more than just quality information. You’re offering them a warm fuzzy feeling. You’re offering them a place to come and spend a while at their leisure. You’re offering them the e-quivalent (get it…the internet equivalent) of a warm bath with bubbles and wine. You’re saying “Stay a while. Enjoy yourself.”
Admittedly not everybody can do it. I had a friend in high school who was (until I’m proven wrong) the smartest human being alive. However, he had the worst sense of humor. He was just dry. I understood him, so I thought it was funny, but the rest of the world tossed rotten tomatoes (no pun intended) in his general direction. He would be what we would refer to as a bad candidate for writing a successful blog. He just couldn’t connect with people.
The good news is that if you’re not “that guy” there are some things you can do to win the hearts:
Use Humor: There’s a fine line drawn in the internet sand between those who use appropriate humor and those who are just stupid. Of course, we don’t like lines….or sand….so we just write whatever we want and damn the consequences. We’ve been known to write about ninjas, pirates, etc. When balanced with the appropriate amount of useful information, we still manage to maintain some semblance of professionalism. If you’re not accustomed to writing in this way, I would ease into it. Otherwise your readers will think you’ve lost your mind and have you committed.
All the World Loves Pretty Pictures: This is blogging 101 material, but people like to look at bright, colorful photos. Having them on your sight just might make the difference between snagging that faithful reader or casting him to the multitudes.
Outrageous Headlines: We like “Home Selling: How to Hone Your Ninja Skills” and others like it. If you were just strolling lazily down Blogstreet, this headline might make you stop for a minute and read the first paragraph at least. Headlines seem also to be directly linked to the popularity of your posts on social bookmarking sights like Digg and Del.icio.us. More importantly, the headline is your opportunity to scream at the world “I’m not Boring!”
Conversational Tones: We recently wrote a post entitled “Time to File for Homestead Tax Exemptions.” Knowing that the title alone was enough to bore most readers to sleep, we decided to mix it up a little and add some elements of conversation to the post. The result is a much more enjoyable, if not slightly schizophrenic read.
Develop Your Voice: This seems to be a topic of much discussion, and we’ve framed it as some mythical pursuit only to be undertaken by the best and the brightest of the blogging community. I assure you that finding your blogging voice is much easier than pulling the sword from the stone, and requires less nobility. It’s simple. Be the same person on the page as you are in person. It helps to read your blogs out loud to yourself with a critical ear tuned to discover and eliminate mundane prose. Having learned to write with your own voice, people won’t be able to resist your natural charm.
That’s all for now! Off you go! Blog about something, and make it good. I demand everybody write a post showing off your charisma and personality and link to it in the comment strand for this post. I’ll be reading!
Thanks Jonathan! It’s great to have you on the Vine.
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