A blog can be a really lonely place. You’re putting your thoughts and opinions in writing for the Internet to read and when no one talks back it feels like you never really said it out loud in the first place. It can be pretty heavy on the self-esteem of a new or low-traffic blogger.
There’s no feature that calls out a deserted site more than the comments section. For some, “be the first to comment” and “0 comments” seem to be the most frequently found terms in search. But what you might not realize is that you’re the one rejecting the comments from happening. You’re keeping people from taking part in any real conversation, which is what a blog is meant to start.
The last couple weeks I’ve been working with my New Year New Blog Bootcampers and the ones with existing sites and traffic all seem to have the same issue. Low, dead-end engagement.
But they’re sharing content consistently. They’re promoting to a social media community that’s 3-4 figures large in social media. So why is there no conversation happening?
Let me ask you if you have a similar situation on your site? Do you have any blog comments? Have you ever received one? And what did you do with it? Did you leave it to rot? Did you dismiss it as the first of many that never came? What you do with the comments you get is extremely important to the health of the engagement that moves forward for your community.
When someone leaves a comment on your content, at the very least you should be responding to them in a reply comment.
For one thing, they want to know you’ve heard them. So why wouldn’t you let them know? If they took the time to write a response to your thoughts, why would you not continue the conversation on the wavelength that is their thought process on the subject? I’m giving the commenter the benefit of the doubt that they left more than a “This is great. Thanks for what you do here.” But even those guys should get a little ‘like’ or smiley face as long as they aren’t spammers.
A second and possibly even more important reason to reply is for the future visitors. If they see you leaving a reader stranded with their own ideas in the deserted island that is your comments section, why would they join in?
This may sound like a no-brainer and I even think my bootcampers are kicking themselves because they really meant to reply but just hadn’t had the time or maybe didn’t get the alert email from their blog. But you just can’t let that happen. You can’t just start a blog because all the gurus told you to. You had to do it because you care about what others think of your industry as well — especially those who you expect to pay you at some point.
Sidenote: Oh and if you’re worried about negative commenting (which BTW isn’t happening because you’re not inviting it per this blog post and would be considered a victory the first time!) I wrote about that here.
I don’t have thousands of blog comments, but it doesn’t matter. Each and every thought someone decides to leave me is a stepping stone for my community to grow and I’m going to be verbally thankful each and every time until it’s virtually impossible… and then I’ll hire a professional commenter. Seriously.
Here are some more ideas you can use to increase the comments on your blog. Because if that’s what you’re waiting for, then you need to start acting and stop expecting:
- Use a more interactive commenting platform instead of the default that comes with your blog. I like Livefyre. It makes it a lot easier to ‘like’ comments, see who is listening quietly, and share comments to social networks which ultimately promote the blog.
- When you’re done thanking the commenter in a reply, paste the blog link in a tweet or Facebook status and give them credit for their thoughts and ask what others think of it. This is great for getting other points of view together for a really interesting conversation.
- Comment on other blogs. When you are intelligently sharing your ideas with other communities, there’s a great chance that other engagers will take notice and click your link. If they want to engage that blog and then like what you do, you can be sure they will be joining the conversation with you shortly.
What are your thoughts on the comments section? Share them… in the comments section! I promise to reply.