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As bloggers we are constantly testing engagement techniques, looking for ways to increase our metrics. The bigger the stats, the bigger bucks, after all. One of the most effective methods to gaining numbers quickly is to participate in link ups, comment circles, group boards, and other trading activities with fellow bloggers. Our support networks are valuable in many ways, but we need to be sure we’re including some discretion in these practices.

The Dangers of Trading as an Engagement Technique

First, let’s talk about the dangers of trading engagements. While this practice is widely considered harmless, and even beneficial, it could be giving you (and your partners) a false sense of influence. All these comments and likes and shares look really good for your metrics, but since they were traded it’s arguable that they’ve been paid for. Purchased engagements can be hollow numbers that end up harming your business when it comes down to dollars and cents.

Why Influence Matters

True influence occurs when you have the ability to motivate someone to take an action. That action could be anything, sharing your post, leaving a comment, downloading an incentive, signing up for your newsletter, or purchasing a recommendation. The more organic your influence, the more likely you are to motivate your community members to act on your suggestions. This influence is especially helpful (and even necessary) when posting paid content on your site. As the influencer marketing industry grows and matures, more and more advertisers are asking difficult questions in regards to the value of paid content. They want to know, how influential are you really?

Up Your Influence

That being said, there is definitely a right way and a wrong way to participate in these popular engagement techniques. I would highly recommend that you proceed with caution. As you have the opportunity to work with Advertisers over the long-term, vanity metrics will reveal themselves eventually. Let’s talk about a few engagement techniques that will increase your metrics, as well as your influence.

3 Engagement Technique Musts

  1. Connect Within Your Niche – If you do decide to participate in trading engagements be sure to connect within your niche. It can be tempting to follow and follow back every member of a blogging network. If they are only interested in trading engagements and not niche-related content or discussion, then they are not a valuable member of your community.
  2. Hashtag it Up – A great way to meet new people in your niche and invite them to your community is to use hashtags. But, don’t just throw the hashtag in your post and walk away. Click on it. See who else is using it. Comment on their posts, engage in conversation. Develop relationships around each hashtag you use.
  3. Publish a Guest Post – Trading guest posts with a fellow blogger in your niche provides more benefits. Share something of value with each other’s readers that will engage them in conversation and grow your communities.

BONUS TIP: Launch an Ad Campaign – Find new followers! Facebook Ads allow you to target your audience based on the parameters of the people who are actually visiting your blog. This is one of the most effective sources to find new people who are already engaging in conversations about your niche.

If you’d like to learn more about creating an ad budget, join us on Twitter Tuesday at Noon Eastern for our blogging chat, #FreshChat. We are discussing how to create an ad budget and launch an ad campaign on Facebook. Come learn, share, and maybe even meet a few new people!