One of the most important things a blog needs in order to grow is a community. People who regularly read, comment and share the blog content.
Your community is likely to be like-minded people, some of whom may have blogs themselves and some may not. The important thing is the interaction. If people take the time to comment then it's polite to respond and this will also encourage further comments and discussion.
Of course it's not only responding to comments on your on blog and social media that's important - it's a two way thing, and equally important is for you to comment and interact with people on their blogs and social media sites.
One community location or several?
Do people comment on your blog? or on links to your blog posts on Facebook or Twitter?
As my blog has grown, so I've expanded my reach from only on the blog to across several different social media platforms.
Most blogs you visit will have their social media icons clearly visible so you can choose where to follow them.
Everyone has their own favourite form of social media. Some people are on Facebook all the time, others can't get enough of Pinterest and some people may simply read blogs.
By having a presence on a few different platforms, you can expand the reach of your blog.
Don't spread yourself too thin
Of course you can have too many different social media accounts which then become too hard to keep up with. It's best to focus on a smaller number and perhaps use each one in a slightly different way.
Different aspects of my own community
My blog itself is where I post my finished projects and tutorials. Occasional full posts about something else in my life - a family trip, a recipe or a running race.
Facebook is what I have open on my computer during the day when I'm working. Being home alone, this is where I share my thoughts, works in progress, and things I like during the day. It's like the social side of my workplace.
Instagram is what I use to take photos and share them directly onto Facebook, just because it's the simplest way I've found to do this.
Google + is something I'm using more and more - to share and find lots of variety of blog content.
Finally Pinterest is all about ideas - so much inspiration there and an awesome place to spark creativity.
I do have accounts on Twitter, Linkedin and have tried Stumbleupon and Flickr, but it was mostly a token effort as I don't have the time to dedicate to more platforms.
If there is a time in the future where I choose to expand again, I think Stumbleupon would be one I'd look into, as I've had a couple of HUGE traffic spikes as 'one offs' when something on my blog has been 'stumbled'.
Growing your community
Back when I first started my blog I did the whole, 'follow me - follow you' thing with Google Friend Connect. This was more about the number of followers showing on the blog than meaningful connection. But I think it's something a lot of people work their way through when they start out.
Now I try to build my communities with like-minded people. So on Google + and Pinterest I follow lots of people and boards with the same interests. You can search for people by topics and then once you're following them, their posts and shares come up in your feeds so you can start to interact with them.
Really, building your community is all about sharing - your content, other peoples and the discussion and interaction they provoke. The best and most valuable communities aren't necessarily the biggest - but they're the most interactive and supportive. I personally believe that is what you should aim for in order to build a successful blog.
How about you?
Do you have a community around your blog?
Is is centred in one particular place or spread over several social media platforms?