Human beings are relational. We like to be acknowledged. We like too participate and contribute. We like to feel that what we have to say is valuable.
Most of your blog’s readers are human beings (well most of mine are). So acknowledge and interact with them.
The most common way for interaction on blogs is through comments. An an old study I once read found that 43% of blogs use comments – I suspect the figure would be much higher today with most blogging platforms now integrating them (remember the days when you had to use a third party comments system!?).
Not everyone likes comments. Some bigger bloggers don’t use them because they get overwhelmed by too much interaction and some smaller blogs don’t use them because they don’t get any comments at all and are embarrassed with the ‘comments (0)’ at the end of each post. Still others gave up on comments because of comment spam.
The Upside to Comments
I personally think commenting is the best part of my blogging – especially here at ProBlogger. You see I’m not that profound or wise, but many of my readers are. Comments add value to my blog. They take my posts to the next level and often take my ideas in rewarding new directions. I have learnt a lot from comments left in this blog and have even met some new friends through them.
Comments have the ability to help create a ‘virtual community’ at your blog. It sounds strange but I’ve seen a number of blogs where the commenters seem to know each other really well and where I suspect people keep coming back to purely to interact with each other. I’ve noticed this starting to happen here at ProBlogger as I constantly get emails from readers who tell me about the relationships they’ve started with other readers that they meet here.
Comments bring accountability to bloggers. If you post something that is inaccurate, controversial or not thought through, expect to be told about it in comments. Whilst this doesn’t always feel the best at the time – it does make you a better blogger in the long run.
Comments add to the content on your blog – One of the things I’ve noticed over the years as I watch my blog referral statistics (which show how people end up on my blog) is that quite a few of them actually end up here having search for a word/s that someone wrote in my comments section. The more comments you get the more content you end up with.
The Downside Comments
With all good things there is a negative flip side. Comment spam has become an increasing problem for many bloggers in the past year. The key to comment spam is to read every comment as it comes in. (Mine get sent to an email address to help with this) and to delete spam as it arrives. Many blogging tools now also have built in means to stop or limit comment spam – learn to use them – don’t let it overwhelm you. Whilst it might take time to monitor your comments it is worth it in the end as a blog infected by hundreds of spam comments decreases the value of your blog not only to readers but in the Search Engines.
You’ll also receive a lot of comments from people trolling for hits at their own blogs. I personally don’t mind these too much, unless they are serial trollers. Flaming in comments can be an issue also. I’ve had a fair share of comment interactions from people that have gotten too personal. You might want to develop some sort of comments policy to help with this.
How to Get Comments on your Blog
– Ask questions. I will often end a post with a question or invitation to comment.
– Interact with comments left. I read every comment left on my blog. I try to either reply to it via comments or email (this gets hard when you start to get a lot!). In my opinion a key to whether you will get comments will be your willingness to use them yourself. Don’t expect your readers to go to the effort of commenting if you ignore them.
– Be humble. People will not comment if you write in a way that presumes to know all the answers. Acknowledge that you’re on a journey, post honestly about your own failings or gaps in knowledge and show people that you believe in them. If you do this, more often than not people will feel comfortable having their say.
– Be gracious. You will get angry, nasty and rude comments. Attempt not to take them personally. Don’t reply to comments in the heat of the moment when angry. Delete comments when they step over your boundaries and attempt to respond to such comments with grace. You may even find that when someone is trying to push your buttons with their comments that the best way to defuse them is to ignore them or simply reply politely with a quick ‘thanks for your comment’. I know it is hard but you will win the respect of your readers if you do.
– Be controversial? – This is a strategy that I see a lot of bloggers using to get readers and stimulated comments. I’m not convinced that it is a good one. It is easy to stir people up and get a lot of comments by saying something controversial just for the sake of it – but I wonder if you do more harm than good this way. Do it too much and you’ll disillusion your readers. I’m happy to put the cat amongst the pigeons occassionally, but don’t do it purely for comments or hits – do it because you believe what you’re saying.
Do I need to even invite you to comment on this post? What’s your experience with comments on a blog?