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How to Make Your Blog Addictive Like World of Warcraft
 By Darren Rowse, founder, ProBlogger

1. Appear popular
The first reason that WoW is so addictive actually starts before you even play the game. Before you even buy the CD. Every gamer you know has played WoW, all your friends are talking about it and you constantly hear about it in the media. This sets up the game in a very positive way because it makes you feel like you are missing out. When I heard that 11 million people were subscribed to the game, I just had to take a look at what all the fuss was about.

This phenomena is called social proof, and it is anything that shows someone that they aren’t the first to try out your service. People do not like to miss out on popular things, but they also don’t want to be the first to try it. If you can appear popular, you take away their concerns, and set yourself up for success.

How you can apply it to your blog
There are quite a few ways you can apply these social proofs to your blog. Remember, you want to make people feel curious about all the other people involved, but you also want to address their fears about being the first to try something. In order to do this you can try:

Showing recent comments
Show your recent comments in your sidebar. This instantly tells people that there are other people interacting on your blog, and that you have some level of popularity. Showing your recent comments is a wonderful idea, as it also gets people involved in any discussions that you might be having.
Use Wibiya
Wibiya is a new toolbar that I am starting to see on a lot of the big blogs and websites, including Darren’s Digital Photography School. And yes, it is free. All you do is sign up for an account, add some code to your site, and you have this nifty new footer that shows everyone the number of people on your site, how to connect with social media, etc. It is a very useful way to make your blog appear less static and more dynamic.
Reference readers in posts
When you are writing a post it is a good idea to give shout outs to people who visit your blog. For example, if some guy called Ben left a really good comment about something relevant to your latest post, why not give people a link to the discussion and mention his name in the article? This has the dual effect of showing that you get comments, as well as increasing loyalty by being very personal and in touch with your readership.
Use subtle testimonials
Everyone knows about testimonials on product websites, but for some reason, people don’t use them on blogs. A subtle and well placed testimonial can do wonders for making your blog more sticky. For example, in your About page, you might want to have some dot points about your traffic, subscriber numbers, or comment count. This has the effect of showing people that others are using your blog, without plastering it all over your sidebar.
Appearing popular is important if you want people to feel like they need to be a part of the action. It is terrible when you arrive on a blog that looks lifeless and dead. On the other hand, when you arrive on a site that is awash with conversation and energy, you just have to get into it. Be creative with your social proof.
2. Leverage people’s need to be in a group
Something very similar to point number one, and one of the most addictive things about World of Warcraft, is the fact that it leverages people’s need to feel a part of a group. This is a very primal and subtle psychological phenomena that all humans possess. We find partners, get married, and have kids. We play team sports, join clubs, and hang out in packs at school time. Humans need to feel part of a group.

When you play WoW, you don’t play by yourself, you join groups of players from around the world and form guilds. Sometimes, these guilds become very close and chat by email and IM, and often log on at the same time each day to play together. This is an extremely powerful tool for making the game addictive, especially if the people have trouble making friends in the outside world. If you want to make your blog more addictive, you have to leverage people’s need to be in a group.

How you can apply it to your blog
So, how do you apply this to your own blog? How do you make people feel like they are special and a part of a group that wouldn’t function properly without them? Here are a few ideas:
Send emails
When someone leaves a comment on your blog, they usually leave their correct email which allows you to shoot them a message to thank them for commenting and let them know that you appreciate their input on your site. Now, there are plug-ins that do this automatically, but that is not what I am necessarily talking about. If someone leaves a great comment, you might want to send a personal message thanking them for their expertise. Or, if someone constantly leaves comments whenever you write, you should thank them for the frequency. Make sure you reward the aspect of their behavior that you want them to continue.
Refer comments to other readers
One of the first websites I ever sold was a fitness site that was mostly used by women. Over time, I built up some very loyal readers, and a lot of them were fitness experts, personal trainers, and dietitians. If someone posted a question in the comments about a workout or diet plan, I would occasionally send emails to the experts asking them to help them out. These experts then become frequent users of the comment section, and always seemed willing to be a part of the action.
Name your team
Something extremely subtle, but extremely addicting, is a team name. In the gaming world it is called a clan. Some clans are extremely hard to get in to, and involve several “try out” phases. For example, in WoW you need to be at a certain level before even being eligible to join. Once you are in though, you have brothers who look out for you in battle, give you hints, etc. It is just like high school! Giving your loyal readers, subscribers, and commenters a clan name is an easy way to maximize the team spirit.
Make people feel like they are part of an exclusive group, and you will have fans for life. Everyone needs to feel as if they have some sort of ownership in the blog, as if it might not be as good if they stopped visiting. This group mentality is an extremely strong tool for all online marketing.

3. Lure with the promise of rewards and new features
Why do people spend their entire lives playing WoW? Partly because the game is incredible, partly because the pollen outside gives me hay fever, and partly because there is the ever enticing possibility of leveling up. Why is reaching the next level so amazing? Because, you get to access new powers and weapons, and challenge new bosses. You also get the bragging rights associated with being a level 80, as opposed to a pitiful 79.

Blizzard (the makers of WoW) constantly add new things to the game. They tweak the maps to make sure they are perfect, they change the damage of certain spells by minor margins to make the battles more interesting, and they periodically release new updates that allow you to access new bosses, maps, and, of course, levels. All of this keeps the game fresh and new, and stops boredom from setting in.

How to apply this to your blog
To make your blog feel super addictive, you need to have a reason for people to come back. It has to be something that compels them to check back again and again, and they have to feel like they might win or gain something new by doing so.

Here are some ideas:
Have regular competitions
Your blog should have regular (but not too regular) competitions, that give away something useful. The prize could be won by leaving a certain amount of comments, subscribing to a feed, or mentioning your blog on Twitter. Whatever your competition is, it should be interesting. Something that gets people talking.
Have a long term, but secret release
One of the coolest things Darren ever did on Problogger was build up a new feature that he was adding to the site. This created a lot of buzz, as it wasn’t really something done before. Now, the great thing about this was the way he did it; very subtly. First, he acquired the domain name www.problogger.com which he previously didn’t own. We knew something was up. Then, he dropped a few hints over the months. Finally, he launched a new community on the address once everyone was seething with curiosity. Perfectly done. Try and have a long term reason for people to keep checking back on your site.
Plan your content and reveal it carefully
We all know that you need compelling content to succeed, but what a lot of people fail to do is release that content in a way that is interesting and alluring. WoW doesn’t just let you access all the maps and features at once. You’d be bored of it in a day. Rather, they slowly let you at it after you have earned it with interaction and game time (and subscription fees!). Try and think of your content in a similar way.
Your content alone should be enough to get people to come back to your blog. But, if you add an extra incentive, some kind of nifty reward or new level, you are going to generate a lot of interest amongst those regulars out there. Without new levels, weapons and magic spells, WoW would be dead and gone by now. So, what are you adding to your blog in order to keep it exciting and new?

4. Create an alternative world for your readers
The real fans of WoW don’t see it as a game, they see it as an alternative world. A world in which they can perform magic, make friends, conquer towns, and change. When playing WoW, you get an almost identical physiological response to events that take place, as if they had actually happened in real life. When you run into battle you get an adrenaline rush that makes your vision fuzzy, and when you can’t solve a puzzle you get flooded with stress and frustration.

How to apply this to your blog
The ultimate way to make your blog addictive is to create an alternative world for your readers. A place where they can go and get away from the problems of their daily life, and absorb themselves in a community of like-minded people. A place where they learn new things, feel more powerful than they really are, and discover their inner potential.
Make it as interactive as possible–A blog should not just be a place where you read/write about something. That might have been the original intention behind their popularity, but now they are so much more. If you want people to become addicted, they need to be involved on every level. Let them suggest topics, ask questions in the comments, and chat to you on Twitter and Facebook. Ask your readers for help and give them tasks to solve. The more interactive your blog, the more time people will want to spend there.
Make it beautiful and easy to use–Your blog’s design is so important, because it has to sell your content. Read that carefully, because I think a lot of people fail to grasp the idea. Your design sells your content. How many times have you left a blog because it was ugly, or the font size was too small, or the colors hurt your eyes? That could have been Shakespeare himself writing that blog, and you wouldn’t have cared. Make sure your design is beautiful and your navigation is as simple as possible. The look and feel of your website should become like a second home to your readers.
Solve real world problems on your blog–One reason that people find it hard to leave WoW is because it solves some of their real world problems. The classic example is the kid who struggles to make friends in school, but in Azeroth, he commands an army. Your blog should always try to make people’s lives better. Your content should address issues in their life, even if only indirectly. But, what if you run a product blog that only talks about antique cans or something equally as boring? Well, make sure that you address concerns, give amazingly detailed responses, and help people find the answers they seek. What do your readers want to feel and discover? What makes them happy? These are essential questions to know if you want to create an alternative world for your fans. And creating an alternative world is the best way to make your blog sticky.
---Source: OMC Aug. 20, 2010 newsletter (www.onlinemarketingconnect.com). Darren Rowse is the founder of ProBlogger (www.problogger.com).
 

Melissa Data


 
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