How do you REALLY build a blog community? A love story.

This is my 500th blog post.

It snuck up on me. I’m sorry that I don’t have anything particularly profound to say to commemorate this milestone, but I thought I would address a question I hear constantly — “How did you build such an awesome blog community?” Certainly this has been the most visible achievement of all this work.

As I reflect on what has happened here over the past few years, I think a few turning points stand out that might help you in your own efforts. At least these are things that have worked for me.

Early promotion — I used the old marketing maxim to go where my “customers” are as tried to introduce the blog. For example, as I was trying to gain traction, I would use links to blog posts to help answer questions in LinkedIn forums.  I was an active participant in other blogs (as I still am) and also promoted the blog everywhere I would naturally have an email address. I used the blog to be authentically helpful and connect to new people. In all honesty, I had no idea what I was doing. This was a distinct advantage in some ways!

The first visitors — What a joy and surprise to find people enjoying my blog and even commenting. I made an effort to connect to them by helping to support their blogs and Twitter efforts too. Sadly, I have so many regular readers of {grow} I cannot possibly do this today.  The irony of social media is the result of success is LESS engagement.  I really hate that.

Asking for help — It got to a point where I was writing what I thought were really unique posts but they still were’t getting much attention. So I asked for attention. When I wrote something really great, I would send a link to some bloggers I admired and asked them for feedback. This is a euphemism for “a tweet.”  People are really nice on Twitter and I never had a request turned down. Of course I only asked sparingly and only when I thought I had an extraordinary post. But it helped.

Show gratitude — There is this rumor going around (Gini Dietrich!) that I wrote personal notes thanking people for their help. This is true. That may seem like over-kill but I didn’t know any better. I was being polite! For example, early in my blogging career Jason Falls wrote a very kind post indicating that I was an up and coming blogger to watch. So I wrote him a thank you note. Why wouldn’t I? Sidenote — Since Gini started broadcasting this two weeks ago, I have received three personal hand-written notes. : )

Taking a human view — Behind every little commenter picture is a story and an awesome person.  That fascinates me to no end. I am so hungry to learn more about you. I wish I could know all of you so much better. One of the things that has made a difference is treating people like people, not comments.  If I sense that a commenter is struggling or suffering, I invite them to call me.  I know that is seen as “taboo,” but the way I see it, we’re all in this together right?  Why not help each other when we can? There is no reason we can’t be friends.

Being involved — I try to thoughtfully respond to each comment. I think that encourages people to comment, but it also is courtesy. Every day I am blown away that people spend their precious time commenting here. I think I owe them a response in return. The least I can do.

But the big community driver is … content. It seems trite, but it really is true. I know that people find the blog and stay here due to the content. When I write something great, I am rewarded with comments and tweets, meaningful social media engagement. So if you want to grow a community, be prepared to put in the hard work to settle for nothing less than consistent, compelling, relevant and entertaining content.  And be human.  Think about your favorite {grow} post. I bet it had something to do with me admitting a weakness or having the courage to be humble. As writers, and as leaders, there is strength in weakness.

Where do we go from here?

The growth of the community has been staggering by every measure. I’m averaging more than 50 comments per post which I was told is in the top 1 percent of all blogs. And you’re a classy bunch.   I have had almost 11,000 comments on {grow} and have only deleted three for being inappropriate.

I have lots of ideas on how to grow {grow} and try some creative new ideas.  The hurdle is time and resources, which I’m sure will sound familiar!  I’m on a mission of continuous learning and improvement, which is what this is all about. This is a community of students, not gurus.

Yes, sometimes I get weary responding to comments at 2 a.m.  I have wondered if I am on the right path.  But then I catch a glimpse of an evolution of something exciting happening here. This is a REAL community. People are connecting and helping each other.

And when I finally meet folks from our community in real life … and they embrace you like a brother … and they trust you with their life story … and tell me I have impacted their life … I realize that this is becoming a movement that is leading to something bigger.  I don’t know what, but it’s going to be bold and amazing.

So 500 posts is just the beginning. The community has become important to me on so many levels. And I’m going to create insanely great content and respond to all the comments I possibly can because I can’t wait to see what happens next!

The answer to today’s post headline really belongs to you. Why are you here and why do you stay?  Do you have a favorite blog post that hooked you?  If you have been reading for some time, why not take the leap and tweet and/or comment. Join in and let everybody know you’re here!

Thanks to all of you — whether you comment here or engage in another way — for making this a special place and an amazing experience!

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  • Congratulations!! What a milestone. I will say that I’m surprised.. I would have thought you were approaching 1,000 🙂

  • Yes, it is only an illusion that I drone on endlessly : ) Appreciate your support Kristen!

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations, Mark. The idea of the hand-written notes blows me away. Love how far you are willing to extend your friendship to those in your community.

    In fact, if I had to sum it up, I’d say it was a “friends, not fan” mentality that has helped grow become such a special place.

  • Mark,

    I could write an entire post about my deep respect for you! I have to say that I found your blog by accident as I told you. I was searching for “leadership blogs” and a lot of them were painfully dry to read. I came across yours, and you approach business from a standpoint of being a REAL leader.

    By that I mean, you really get that leaders need to set the tone. There is no heavy hand, and no hard sell. I read your blog for a while but really connected with you on “Confessions of a Smartphone Douchebag” I loved that post, not just because it had “douchebag” in the title, but because it showed something many of us are guilty of. I love the human side of business. I think that is just as important to me as what your company does.

    You have always been incredibly helpful to me, and gave me enough of a push to get my personal blog started. I could never thank you enough for that.

  • Mark,
    Congrats on this milestone—and looking forward to many more!
    Personally, I look forward to reading your blogs and have appreciated your sincere encouragement and support with my “projects”. You are a great guy!
    Clink Clink—here’s to 500 more!

  • That is an excellent way to put it. I have made more friends in the past two years than in the past 10, I would say. The forum attracts intelligent, professional, caring people. What a great group to get to know. That’s why I think it is such an opportunity for people to comment and interact on {grow}. It’s a great opportunity to network and build strong bonds. And when you meet these folks in real life, they are even more impressive and amazing. Such was the case with you, of course. : )

  • Anonymous

    Mark, my heartiest congratulations on this significant milestone, and kudos to your ongoing intention and action to keep this party going!

    My most significant take-away from this post (paraphrased): Treat people like people, not comments. That should be a number one rule for all of us.

    Why am I here and why do I stay? Because when you find someone and someplace where you feel like “home”; where you feel like you could complete the sentence of others because you’re so on the same path; and then, just when you feel like it’s safe to go into the water, someone challenges that kumbaya feeling with an awesome, different point of view that shakes you up and wakes you up…well, I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t want to stay and play:)

    I’ve just started to share a bit of my own story publicly, as I’d kept my mouth firmly shut for over 2 years. Nutshell version: I spent over 2 years in groundless TM litigation – had to close one company – had to rebrand my existing company that I’ve had for over 25 years. Painful, expensive, soul-searing stuff. It was truly like starting over.

    People I thought had my back, didn’t. Taking the high road and keeping my mouth shut was right, but lonely. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

    So, I picked myself up and dusted myself off, and decided I would spend at least 3 months in intensive self-learning about “social media”. Oh, I’d dabbled before. But this was now going to be full-time school for me.

    And this is how I found the people and places I wanted to hang around with, be part of, connect and grow (yes, pun intended) with.

    So why am I here and why will I stay? Because, Mark, you have an amazing way with words, providing content that I resonate with, with a community of followers and connections/kindred spirits that are simply awesome. And connecting with one leads to finding others.

    As Elizabeth says: {grow} is a special place. Cheers and Congrats! Kaarina

  • So kind of you to say Nancy. I have always had a good eye for talent and it is cool to be in a position to find it and encourage people like you. You are a talented writer and it will be fun to see how you progress with your blog. Thanks for being such an important part of {grow}!

  • Congratulations, Mark! I can honestly say that when I think of a blog that inspires and educates, as well as entertains me, this is top-of-mind.

    I was introduced to your blog via Twitter, and have been thankful ever since. The way to write is engaging, and I always know I’m going to smile or nod in agreement – not to mention the vast amount of learning I’ve been lucky enough to do while reading here!

    Thank you so much for being an inspiration and creating a comfortable place to relax and let my mind open. 🙂

  • Clink clink back. And my, this is a very fine wine selection you have chosen for us : )

  • This is your first blog post that I read. I found it on twitter. But I really like It. This way of thinking can make us better.

  • This is a great post in its own right, Kaarina. Thanks for sharing your journey with us.

    I had a similar “end of the innocence” experience about 15 years ago when I was set up to takwe the fall for my boss’s costly and unethical behavior. I was simply in shock as I peiced together what had happened. Ultimately I was vindicated and my boss was canned but it changed me.

    It is a delight to have your active participation in {grow} and I’m proud that we’re all contributing to your renaissance!

  • Welcome! And thanks for stepping out and commenting. I hope you’ll be back Dragan. If for no other reason than you have the coolest name : )

  • Thanks Tab. It has been fun getting to connect with you!

  • Hiya Mark,
    First and foremost – congratulations on yet another of your incredible milestones – only recently you reached 10,000 comments and now 500 posts! Wow and wow again. Hat tip!

    You’ve touched upon my favorite topic here and I think from your early days – where you say you didn’t know what you were doing – until today – where you continue to provide the same effort, caring and respect with regards to your community – you’ve been doing an impeccable job!

    Some of these points you mentioned are common sense. Where as others involve a little smarts and going the extra step to make folks feel at home when they’re here. Something you do well – and something I’d like to think I excel in as well. I’m not one to toot my own horn but I think for the most part – we know some of our qualities and the things that work for us.

    The 2 things I’m afraid to say I did not do when I first started blogging were early promotion and asking for help. In all honestly – even as a somewhat marketer – I was clueless as to what blogging entailed as I hadn’t done much reading on the topic when I started nittyGriddy. I just wrote and that was that. Yes – one of those “build it and they will come” attitudes. Needless to say – I learned otherwise very quickly.

    Showing gratitude should go without saying – common sense really – although it seems we have to remind certain folks of it time and time again for it seems appreciation is being taken for granted much too often.

    Taking a human view – well, since I eat, breathe and sleep – I don’t see any other view that I could take but that one! The day I’m reduced to nothing but tin is when I’ll act like R2D2 ;). I wouldn’t hold your breath lol.

    Being involved – I’m a firm believer of the meaningful comment and replying in kind – I actually wrote a post that touches upon just that last night – where you were also mentioned by the way :). If someone has taken the time to leave a thoughtful comment – then it’s only courteous and normal of me to reply in a way that will show them a.) I understood their comment and I’m listening, b.) I agree or disagree with it (in a respectful manner and tone), c.) I’m glad they took the time to share their views, d.) whatever else is appropriate….

    Yes – it’s time consuming. But your audience will respect your for it and you will create discussions and a community that participate and engage both with you and the other commenters. I consider my comments section somewhat like a “chat room” or a “gathering place” – a sort of “Central Perk” for smart and like-minded folks.

    Anyhow – My musings have gone on long enough. I loved what you said in this post Mark. Thanks for taking the time to define what makes a community the healthy and agreeable one that it is.

    Enjoy your big day :).
    Cheers

  • Anonymous

    Why am I following your blog? Very easy all your posts (I read over the last few months) are full of sense or make you question yourself, your strategy or your online behaviour. I read a new post as soon as possible and I tweet a link if I think it would be relevant to my TL (so it is 100% for the most recent ones).

    And I know you are read by a lot of people across the Atlantic. I read an in depth review of you video where you discussed the future of social media with J Bear. You make people think and take a step backward to have a better picture about what they are doing or should be doing.

    And I read the Tao of twitter as I thought “the blog posts are relevant I should read the book”, even if I did not made myself completely public and did not put a picture of me for my avatar (it will come…).

    So thanks a lot for the blog and keep the posts coming. I just wish I had enough time to read all the posts I missed.

  • Mark, I’m grateful I’ve found your blog. I’ve shared it as a resource for colleagues wanting to understand how to build a bridge between what they consider conventional marketing wisdom and the new channels available through social media.

    I’m sure I must have arrived here via a comment you made or a reference to you in one of Gini’s posts. She is a rather dynamic presence, is she not? My favorite post so far was a recent one on the measurable ROI of social media. I think that if we’re engaged in any social media for business purposes, we have to know if it counts. And I was grateful to hear your expert commentary on that.

    I found when I looked this morning that I have written 284 posts in more than three years of blogging. I have never taken the blog seriously as a business tool. I took the approach of organic growth quite literally–scattering seeds and letting nature take its course. That is about to change with the launch of a new website next week. I’m more grateful than you can imagine for this motivating, helpful message today. Thanks for generously sharing your insights with the rest of us and Happy 50th Post Day!

  • Synchronicity. How incredible to read what might have fallen out of my own head! I’ve had a few blinding insights, tucked up in bed with a cold, and (finally!) reading Seth Godin’s Purple Cow. How exciting to be part of this global movement (yes! movement) of genuine compassion. Forget the widgets, I say. Focus on the people and the stories. The widgets will (or may not) come along for the ride. But what a ride!!! Thank-you for putting all of this so beautifully into words. I am thrilled to have found your blog.

  • Congrats, Mark! I must say, I love that picture! Spanky front & center! My now almost 10 year old son looked like a carbon copy of him until he was about 5 (now he resembles him, just not a chunk!)

    I love that you do hand written thank-you’s! I think the world would be a much better place if everyone took the time to utter those two little words more often! Great example you are setting, and I am happy to hear as a result of Gini spreading the word, you are getting some in return! 🙂

  • I think you really are a model on how to nurture a blog community, Ingrid. You are incredibly generous in your comments and share important insights like you did today. I’m a big fan of your blog but even more of a fan of your authentic, caring friendship you extend to all readers. It is a warm and awesome community! Thanks so much for connecting with me and offering this wisdom today!

  • 50 comments a post in 500 posts. What an awesome achievement. You’re an inspiration Mark and I love the fact you keep a great sense of humour going throughout the obvious stacks of work you put into maintaining the community on this site.

    Here’s to the next 500 posts! Rock on :=)

  • Thanks! I have loved the fact that you have become such an active member of the community and will soon :reveal” yourself! : )

  • I’m delighted to hear you are re-positioning your blog to be a more important part of your busienss. A blgo can do so much to establish a voice of authority, create a value-add for customers, contribute to SEO, connect with new people and partners and create PR opportunities. Can’t wait to see it take off. Thanks for adding your story today Mimi!

  • That is so very kind of you to say. Seth’s book is really impactful isn’t it? Appreciate the fact that you took your time to comment today!

  • Sometimes I just get inspired with those pictures. The blog community is kind of like Our Gang, so why not? Thanks for your comment!

  • To be clear, the 50 comment average is in the last 12 months. Over the life of the blog, it averages about 22 comments per post. Sorry for that confusion. Like any one, there were crickets chirping around here for months. : ) Thanks for your friendship and support Jon! I look forward to seeing you SOON!

  • Wow! 500 posts! Thats an achievement. Now I wonder if I should be keeping track… Anyways, you know I am a fan and while I dont always comment, I enjoy the posts and always seem to walk away with at least 1 nugget of good info or a refreshing uh-ha moment. What you said about the pain of success with social media and how you lose the engagement and personal connectedness I could not agree more. I have over 700 followers as of today and I remember just started out late last year and having wonderful conversations with great minds, being able to stay on top of all the great stuff being passed around, comment back, etc. Now, I am torn between excitement at the notion that people care what I have to say and tweet about enough to follow me and the threat that my engagement is being withdrawn. I am going to start asking for help spreading my blogs around. That is something I have not tried. Thanks Mark!

  • Hi Mark

    Congratulations. 500 post in 2,5 years means a lot of thinking and a lot of work.

    Why am I here? To learn!

    Why specifically here? Its just the instant, that you answered not only one of my questions on focus, but you followed me back on twitter. Thereby you demonstrated the truth of your answer and your engagement, which impressed me.

    So I am still here and will be here tomorrow too, hardly waiting for your new ideas and suggestions.

    Kind regards from Germany

    Hansjörg

  • I’m humbled and honored by what you said here Mark. It means a lot to me that you think that. Thank you 10x!!!

  • It is an enigma isn’t it? I would say I was probably happiest with Twitter when I had about 400 followers. Just enough to keep it manageable and interesting. But when people start piling on, I’m not going to tell them to go away. I consider it an honor that they find something interesting about me. So it has become something different. Thanks for being such an important part of this community Christina!

  • What a wonderful sentiment! Thank you! I’m glad we’re connected. I hope we have a chance to meet soon and continue to lear from each other.

  • Congratulations Mark – I am here because you are real. Your appeal for me is your willingness to say what you think needs to be said and to say it with class!

    I am very new in my blogging/business career and I have gained much by reading you and watching how you respect and respond to the community you have built.

    Thanks again for answering my questions both through the blog and via personal emails. My goal is to work to build a similar community within my sphere. Examples to follow online are easy to come by, but good examples are rare indeed. Thanks for being a good example for your community.

    Now (as my favorite line from Cool Runnings says), GET BACK TO WORK! 🙂

  • Congratulations, Mark, what a fantastic milestone! I usually read your blog through my RSS reader and only comment occasionally. So while I consider myself a member of your community, I’m the quiet guy standing in the corner of the room. I’m not a marketer, well, not in the traditional since anyway. I’m a teacher and a professional learner. I teach in a K-12 setting and have no aspirations for becoming a businessman or entrepreneur.

    All that said, I keep coming back to {grow} for two reasons. First, you engage people authentically online and in-person. These are real conversation and genuine relationships, and I think this community is a model of what blended learning could be and what 21st century networking should be. I’m learning lessons here that help me guide my children and my students. Second, I think this community is an excellent example of what “lifelong learning” really looks like. We use that phrase a lot in schools, but it’s always been rather obtuse. I think {grow} is an excellent example of what a “learning community” looks like in the “real world.”

    By the way, I still have a Brooks Museum pass for you for the next time you head this way.

  • We had a mutually beneficial experience on {grow} didn’t we? Amazing how many people have been featured on the blog and contributed to its success in so many ways! Thanks Dave!

  • Phil this is simply an amazing comment. You have my wheels turning here. I agree with you … but how can the model be expanded? Adapted to meet the needs of broader audiences? Special needs?

    I recently opined that I believed extroverts had an advantage on the social web. Introverts vigorously disagreed, stating that they liked being able to connect on their own terms and in their own way. This got me thinking too.

    Continuous learning through something like a blog or wiki could appeal to many people but it is probably an under-utilized academic resource. Fascinating.

    Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  • PS … I will be in Memphis in September and will take you up on the tickets!!

  • This has been my favorite post so far, which I’ve only been subscribed for a few weeks. It is obvious that you care about your blog and followers. I would suspect that is what has made it such a success. People want to be heard and appreciated. Excellent work!

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  • We go way back Mark, i remember receiving a few DM’s of your great post last time when I ended up commenting after I read and posted.

    Why am I here? and why do I stay
    1) I like you
    2) Love your content
    3) Been a fan since i started reading this blog
    4) You’re nice!
    5) You’re a role model
    6) You take the time to respond to everyone
    7) You’re funny in your writing, a lot of blogs out there are too boring
    8) I love your photoshop photos
    9) I love how you share your personal experience in each blog putting your personal touch
    10) I like your blog consistency
    11) I like how you spin your blog post adding humor post and not just business oriented like the funny twitter bio post
    12) I like to see what you reply back to my comments, making me stalk this blog post a few times after I’ve comment
    13) I like to ask questions and I wanna thank you for answering them. I remembered asking you how much time one should spend chasing after a customer on twitter because you wrote about you and your experience when you wanted to buy a camera if i am not mistaken, and you answered me that it depends on the price/how much they’ll be getting
    14) I like your cheekiness
    15) because you’ve been a huge support to me. By praising and giving me more confidence.

    Do i have a favorite blog post that hooked me?
    Yes! the one on Malcolm Gladwell, I remembered the blog post and also remember getting the comment of the week! Woot! I still think Malcolm should use it rather than not using it and saying that it shouldn’t exist! I still love his book 🙂

  • Lexy @AYates & @ClearpointPR

    Mark, congratulations! What a sweet post. You like us don’t you? You *like* us! 🙂 Well, clearly we like you back. Pat yourself on the back. The two reasons I think communities succeed, both of which you pointed out, are treating people like humans and having good content. People need friends and useful content. In this busy, busy world, we just don’t have time for one without the other.

    As I start to engage more in social media, I find that acting like a real person, with humor, inexperience, kindness, true opinions, etc. makes success easier anyways! Love the comments here – Kaarina, Aaron, Philip, all evidence of the great community that you have created here at {Grow}. I’m looking forward to many more posts & developing more {Grow} friendships!

    Best, Lexy

  • Anonymous

    Congratulations! I know I have learned a great deal from your posts and from your guest bloggers. Thanks so much for your willingness to share you knowledge.

  • Mark,
    A simple congrats. I so enjoy the open honesty of your stories of your early days.

    Ken

  • Nice of you to say Jackie! Thanks!

  • Gosh, I don’t know what to write after that other than this is probably one of the best comments I’ve ever received. You really put a lot of care into that. See what I mean? People like Mr. Aaron Wei-Ren just blow me away.

    Thank you young man!

    You know I always like that comment of the week feature but when I took it away with the blog re-design, nobody said anything about it, plus people with an RSS feed never saw it any way. Oh well.

    Thanks for being such a great supporter and friend Aaron!

  • Hurray for you. I’m glad you’re here! I hope you enjoy the ride!

  • I’m happy to do it, Jennifer. Thanks for stepping up and commenting today.

  • Thank you my friend!

  • Im afraid you failed in your attempt to not say something profound 🙂

    I think this is a very profound post with a ton of lessons any one of us can take to the bank.

    Congrats Mark 🙂

  • Congratulations on your milestone and all of your success. Your post is inspiring and uplifting. Thank you!

  • Congratulations!

    I can identify so closely with the paragraph about writing posts you believe are good, but not getting any attention.

    Oh well, just need to keep cracking away at it!

    I’m looking forward to your 1000th post.

    Cheers,
    Matt

  • Mark – I can’t recall exactly when I first discovered you or your site, but it was more than a year ago. I’m quite certain I was drawn in by the content. I kept coming back for that and the great conversation. It wasn’t long after I started visiting your blog that we had the pleasure of meeting this time last year (can you believe it’s been that long?!).

    I remember being blown away that you reached out to me and wanted to get together when you were coming through Nashville. It spoke volumes that I was more than just a commenter and friend on Twitter. You really proved that you wanted to extend the relationship.

    It’s hard to resist a person or a blog that is willing to so deeply invest in his/her readers and community. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with many other readers and commenters on your blog. That’s pretty amazing and quite rare – at least in my experience.

    I think the content is what gets people here, but it’s the people and conversations that cause folks to stick around.

    Thanks for being generous with your time and helping all of us grow! Congrats on 500. Look forward to 500 more!

  • Thank you my friend.

  • Thanks for caring enough to comment Mary!

  • I’ll be here if you will too? : )

    Blogging does take patience. Chris Brogan famously said it took him three years to get his first 100 readers. It took 18 months of almost daily blogging before mine started to get some lift, so hang in there!

  • Boy we have come a long way haven’t we? You’ve become one of my most trusted business partners!! Social media rocks. Thanks for everything Laura!!

  • Indeed! Thanks for the kind words. The feeling is mutual. And yes, social media DOES rock!

  • Karen Bice

    Mark, congrats on your 500th post! I look forward as always to more great content from your blog!

  • Congratulations Mark!! I’m a newie to your blog and I must say that not only are your posts useful, they’re a pleasure to read. The ideas you’ve expressed in this post are not new in the online marketing arena, but you’ve done a great job of synthesizing it. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head – that it’s about creating relationships. Coming from someone who is developing my own blog, you’ve given me much food for thought and inspired me to keep at it. Keep up the great work. Looking forward to the 1000th post.
    Anthony

  • Hi Mark, first off, congratulations on your 500th post – the good majority of which I can honestly say I’ve read. I come back because you write in your own voice AND you have strong, original thinking. I don’t always comment now because you’re so popular AND I don’t always have something to say. But I always come back to learn. Hell, I even trekked to Tennessee to meet you (and take advantage of a great conference)!

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  • Thanks for being a faithful reader Karen!

  • Stick with it Anthony. it does take time, and remember there are many concrete business benefits to blogging even if nobody reads it. I went through down times too trying to find my footing but I found my voice slowly but surely month by month. Thanks for your very kind comment!

  • Well what a special person you are and what a tremendous role you have played in the blog and in my life. We don;t communicate every day but I know we are there for each other and it never would have happened without {grow}. Deepest thanks for everything!

  • You seem to have appeared out of nowhere Kaarina – what a brilliant mind you have : )

  • What makes this community thrive is your genuine care and passion for people and the industry you’re serving Mark.

    There are many good resources on the social web, but many of them don’t put people first. This one thing can set you apart from most on the social web.

    OK, it helps that your content here is cutting edge and contributing to shaping the future of the socail web… but if you we’re a douchebag, it wouldn’t rock like it does.

    What an awesome community of people you’ve inspired here Mark — not too many people have what it takes to build one like this.

    Cheers to 1,000 – It’s going to be a great ride!

  • Sorry to just get back, Mark. It’s been one of those days.

    Many progressive educators are using 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, etc.) and social media to connect with each other and with students while building their own learning network. We call them PLNs (Personal Learning Networks). The problem with the “personal” aspect of the learning network is that it often develops into an echo chamber. I know I’m guilty of growing annoyed with those whose opinions differ from mine. On a few occasions, I’ve even gone so far as culling my opponents from my network. I appreciate the way you embrace the push-back and use it to refine your ideas.

    How do we expand the model? I’m not sure I have any grand ideas. I once heard someone say that you change a culture through thousands of conversations…had one at a time. I guess we’d better get busy within the sphere of influence we each have. You have a powerful online presence and a serious professional stock. I have a school full of kids, teachers, and administrators. I think that’s enough conversations to get us started and keep us busy for awhile.

    I think formal education, especially secondary and post-secondary education, needs not only to present and require mastery of content but also to empower students to build learning networks that will sustain continuous learning. So you’ve obtained a degree, how are you going to continue growing and developing in your chosen field?

  • Just let me know when!

  • Thank you Mark: in many ways, I feel like I’m emerging “out of nowhere”, after the challenges of the past few years. I’m honoured by your comment, and look forward to staying in contact.

  • Congrats Mark. A very big reason why you/blog are so popular(apart from amazing content), I think, is that I always get the feeling you give more than you take (or could take). So glad you excel in what you are doing and allow the rest of us to be part of your largesse.

  • Mark, although I still self-censor a bit about my experience over the past few years (although I’m over the hump, the wounds remain a tad raw), it’s very cathartic to share. Thanks for affording the opportunity, and for sharing you experience as well. Shock is exactly what I felt throughout a process in which, although I was “right”, it really didn’t matter: deeper pockets ruled the outcome.

    I’m delighted to participate in {grow}, and you are all, indeed, contributing to my renaissance.

  • Mark, Congratulations
    on your 500th post! Your tips on how you got there are excellent. I
    am still blown away by the level of engagement and activity on {grow}, and the
    amount of time you put into maintaining that community. I don’t always have the
    time to comment, but I do read every post. So, I’ll try to answer your questions.

    Why am I here and why do I stay?

    My father used to say that one of the rarest things in
    business was to find a computer guy (i.e. programmer) that understands
    business. I would probably say the same thing today about a social media
    expert. You are one of a small group of social media folks that seem to really
    get all that’s amazing about social media while understanding that the business world
    doesn’t generally allocate capital because something is cool; eventually, it
    has to be produce results. I really enjoy the frank discussions about what social
    media does and does not do well. Your content simply rocks, the posts and the
    ensuing discussions!

    Do I have a favorite blog post that hooked me?

    In keeping with the above, the one that hooked me was On Twitter
    No One Can Hear You Scream. I thought it smacked of integrity for someone who wrote
    the book on Twitter (literally) to note the limits of its effectiveness to drive
    behavior.

    Again, congrats on 500 and good luck on the path to 1,000!

  • A delight with every comment. A new star : )

  • Thanks Mark. However I would contend that being a douchebag and being a popular blogger are not mutually exclusive events : )

    I appreciate your kind comment and support!

  • You and I could chat for hours about this. I am particularly interested in apply social technologies and game theory to a learning environment. Virtual reality in the classroom. It will be here soon! We have GOT to meet!

  • Maybe. I sure do get a lot from you guys though. I learn something every day. Look forward to seeing you in Montreal some day soon Jacob. One of my favorite cities of the world! Drop me a line and let me know how your business is progressing.

  • That time and healing thing … they had something there I think : ) With some of the things that happened to me in the past five years, I have become a student of the concept of forgiveness but still working on mastery.

  • Adam, I am so grateful you took the big leap into the comment section today. I know it can be a chore — some people have even said intimidating — but it really does make a difference in so many ways.

    I loved that post too. Sometimes you just KNOW when it is going to rock and that was one of them. I put a lot of thought and work into it and, as i said, good content does get rewarded! I teach in my classes that great posts should be RITE — Relevant, Interesting, Timely and Entertaining and that post did pass the test.

    Thank you so very much for your thoughtful comment!

  • You were made to blog @Griddy:disqus ! You are really gifted.

  • Kelly Fajardo

    Well, today is the first day I have read your blog…quite impressive. I just finished writing blog number 5, so I call myself a ‘baby blogger’ with lots to learn. I look forward to spending the next 500 with you.

  • Rob Kravitz

    Mark, Congratulations buddy. I read your blog because it’s insightful, it’s grounded in reality and your tremendous experience in marketing/business, and it’s a pleasure to read. When you use the words “trite” or “awesome” I can literally hear your voice in my head and it makes me smile. Keep up the good work!

  • Congratulations Mark, glad to join you and your {grow} community on this auspicious occasion! To answer your questions: You are why I am here and what makes me stay. Your candor and your transparancy brings out the very best in all fo us who have grown accustom to your love of learning and sharing. With appreciation and gratitude i look forward to your next 500…

  • Mark, Kaarina, you both are very inspiring people. You both courageously share your ups, downs, struggles and victories with a community of friends and strangers and by doing so, you bring many people hope and connection most folks don’t get the privilege of having on the social web.

    Kudos to both of you…

  • I love building community through blogs. I started following a few and started to notice i really trust and love some of the blogs. i feel like i know the people who write them. Social media is so great.

  • Many studeis I’ve seen show that blogs have more credibility even than word of mouth. I think it makes sense. Blogger stick their reputation on the line every day! Thanks for your comment Judy!

  • Mark, You said you didn’t have anything profound to say for your 500th post, but you did. Being authentic and talking from the heart was fabulous. It felt as if you were writing a personal note to me.

    I loved that you wrote personal notes and after reading your post, that doesn’t surprise me at all.

    Everything you said will be taken to heart. I hope I sound as genuine as you. I don’t think so, so I’ll be working at improving that from now on.

    I’m new to your blog and am so glad you’ve still got lots of ideas to share.

    Connie

  • HA! So funny. It is so nice to hear from you Rob! Thanks.

  • Welcome Kelly! Glad to have you here!

  • So kind of you to say, Dr. Rae! Thanks for being such an important part of this community!

  • That is so great Connie. I’m glad the post had an impact on you. That makes my day!! Thanks for taking the time to provide this uplifting comment!

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  • Anonymous

    Almost missed your 500th blog post on my moms birthday;-)

    I am coming back to your blog Mark because I know you will tell us a great story I can always take something away. May it be personally or professionally;-)

  • Congratulations on your 500th post Mark! I was excited just last week to publish my 50th! LOL
    As I write you have 88 comments and 88 Tweets. I’m definitely taking notes! (and RTing). Kudos to you!
    Lori

  • Hey, 50 is a huge milestone! Congratulations and thanks for being part of the community Lori!

  • Well it was blog post number 500 published on 05/05! …and your mom’s birthday! Hurray : )

    Thanks for all your support Claude!

  • Great ideas attract great people. Great people attract other great people. Those other great people share great ideas.

    These are the two things at the top of my list … great … people. It is not easy at all, but when you boil it down to those basics, it works!

  • Great ideas attract great people. Great people attract other great people. Those other great people share great ideas.

    These are the two things at the top of my list … great … people. It is not easy at all, but when you boil it down to those basics, it works!

  • Love that perspective Mark, thanks!

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  • I think the most awesome of all is “Being Involved”. I say that not because it is just a nice thing to do to reply to comments, as being involved also means – to take genuine interest in the commenter’s self and content.
    Though I may not be a regular commenter here, I’ve definitely been a regular reader! I must say that your content is awesome and I’ve been a fan ever since. Plus you always take the time to respond to comments and my annoying mentions on Twitter. Above all, you’re also a great and humble person. 🙂
    p.s. i still wanna sit in your class one day!

  • Hey Mark, sorry I’m so late to this wonderful post. I’ve just spent the lat 15 minutes or so reading comments, and it’s incredibly impressive what you’ve built here and how you’ve done it. 500 is a major feat, something that 99.9% of all bloggers never achieve. Although I haven’t been reading your stuff till recently Mark, I’ve been nothing but blown away with the value you share with each post and your ability to teach me something I didn’t previously know.

    Cheers to you and this amazing community,

    Marcus

  • Wow, a high compliment indeed Marcus. Thank you!!

  • That is so kind of you to say, Jan. I would be delighted to take my class on the road and visit you in Malayisa. A wonderful part of the world. Thank you so much for being a loyal reader Jan!

  • This comment needs more than a ‘LIKE’ button, something along the lines of “OMG wow!”

  • Read this over the weekend Mark, only now taking the time to add my measly two pennies to what’s already been said. Hmm let’s see, I remember the ‘social elite country club’ post that got a lot of folks talking about what it takes and how many dues one has to pay and how long before they’re allowed to be ‘in’ such a new field. That one ruffled a few feathers. I also just think you were one of the first bloggers I read who wasn’t stuffy. Much better than reading Part IV of a post-graduate lecture series on the ‘implications of social media networks in a post-enlightenment era’ or some such stuff. IDK… you just let things fly and had some fun with the graphics, headlines, etc.

    Must admit you were one of the first followers, commenters on my blog. That helped encourage me and kept me writing and tweeting before I started figuring out how to drive traffic and get noticed which finally kicked in week before last. Anyway I knew I wasn’t being ignored, it’s kept me coming back and it’s made me feel welcome here along with your oh-so witty relies. You still write good stuff, your community rocks, there’s free cookies and a chance you might win something, so even if I don’t always comment I’ll still lurk by. 😉 FWIW.

  • You figured out how to drive traffic? I’m still in the slow lane on that one : )

    You have been such a great member of the community Davina! It’s worked out well for both of us! Thanks for everything.

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  • OMG.. I did write that. Well ‘traffic’ is a loosely defined term. In my case it’s from Zero to 10-20 readers in just a few short years. And I’m only paying for half of them. 😉

  • Hi Mark, I will catch up soon. Do let me know if you are in Montreal

  • Thanks Davina 🙂 ~hugs~

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  • Saw the tweet to this post.
    I’m a watcher, and I watch here often.
    This is a very diverse community of people and it’s not all a love fest.
    I like that too.
    Mark the best post for me was the one about “Why are the Social Media Elite ignoring us…”
    It might happen to you too, but I hope not…
    Thanks Billy

  • Actually I think the thing I am most proud of is that this blog is not a love fest (usually!). There are a ton of diverse opinions represented here. I learn something every single day.

  •  Hi, Mark.

    Thank you. You literally spoke to me with your article, being the neophyte blogger that I am. I started blogging during the last week of April and in the first week of March, I got an advice from Bill Dorman about building my own community. He said this is the most important thing.

    I followed his advice and began finding blogs to subscribe to in earnest, although getting to all the posts take time. That, along with using Twitter and Facebook was about all that I am doing now to build that community Bill was telling me about. And, here comes your article, telling me in detail what I still need to do.

    So, again, thanks. I am glad I clicked the link on Marcus’ lion den. 🙂

  • It’s so very rewarding to learn when a blog post helps somebody so Kim, THANKS for taking the time out of your busy day to tell me. And most of all, be patient. It does take time and hard work but the rewards are worth it!

  • Rach B

    I just ran across this post and it’s awesome!  I, like many other new bloggers, feel like there is community going on around me, but I’m not yet a part of it.  Reading a post like this makes me want to keep trucking along.  Thank you.

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  • This post has to be my favorite since it is my first time here!  I got chills reading about meeting virtual friends in real life, realizing that we are impacting one another in real ways, and the connections made are genuine… and bigger than ourselves.  That certainly is ‘bold and amazing’! Thanks for writing an inspiring post; I look forward to reading more.

  • Wow, congrats on 500 posts and average of 50 comments on each. You’ve gone well over that on this one! I read the whole thing word for word which I don’t always do. This is my first time on your blog, so I can’t really answer your questions, but I can say I will poke around a bit now and explore 🙂

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  • Ted409

    I want to be your friend. I am going places, and need a mentor..

  • 500 Posts – this is really impressive and shows some significant commitment. I am new to blogging and still trying to build up a readership – I hope I will hit some significant milestones like this as well!

  • Mark – just started reading you – came over via a mention in Marcus Sheridan. Love the authenticity and personal tone … very pleasant, not preachy … working on doing more myself

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  • Ugh, YES. Thank you so much for writing this. Sometimes, I feel like everyone is ahead in the blogging game (okay, a lot of times, I feel like everyone is ahead in the blogging game) because you never hear the “before” or “during” stories, you tend to find blogs that just have a lot of traction. Then you’re left to wonder “what the heck am I NOT doing?” Here’s to 500 more posts by you!

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