When somebody comments on your blog, do you make a point to reply to it?
There are two sides to this coin, and my thoughts on the matter have adjusted somewhat. In fact, long-time readers of this blog may recall a video I made where I jumped into a debate started on somebody else’s blog complaining that many pro bloggers don’t reply to their own comments. At the time, I argued that replying to every comment could actually hurt your blogging.
Today, I’m going to modify my position. Because, it has changed.
Completing The Open Loop
When somebody says something to you, it is an unfinished circuit – an open loop – if it is not acknowledged. Because of that, people can take it as a form of rudeness or invalidation.
We see it all the time in real life. How do you feel when you leave a voice mail for somebody to call you and you never hear from them? How do you feel when you make a point to praise somebody for something they did… and they just sit there stoically and never respond?
With this in mind, the importance of replying to comments (within reason) makes a lot of sense. It shows that you’re listening, and it closes the loop. That increases their affinity with you and your brand because you’ve actually interacted in a complete way.
These days, as more and more blogs are out there competing for attention, I think the importance of that PERSONAL brand is more important than ever before. See, when we hear the phrase “personal brand”, we usually think the cult of personality, where people are following you and, well, giving a shit. But, what makes people give a shit? Being PERSONAL. Really putting the “personal” into “personal brand”.
The Valid Counter-Argument
I’m going to make two points here… one is about the time factor and the other is more psychological.
It can be quite time consuming to reply to every comment on your blog. And, in the video I recorded way back then, that was my primary point. Once your blog gets to a point where you bring in a lot of comments, the considerations change. Whether it sounds nice or not, the simple fact of the matter is that you HAVE to practice a little judgement on who gets your time.
When you’re doing this for business, it is smarter to dedicate most of your time to people who pay you than to passers-by on your blog. That’s what customers are paying for, and you better provide it. If people on your blog want some personal dedication from you, then they pony up and become a customer.
In all seriousness, the only people who have a problem with that are usually the people who resent success.
Next, there’s a psychological factor at play that people know about, but a lot of bloggers don’t talk about it much…
Remember the “play hard to get” games when it comes to dating? The idea was that you don’t act super interested and that makes them want you even more, right? Well, it is true and it is basic human nature.
Human beings are attracted to a withdraw. Leave a little vacuum and they try to fill it. If you reach heavily, they have no need to reach back or, worse, they withdraw from you.
This can be used strategically in a marketing sense, in ways I won’t go into on this post. But, the point is… if you’re trying to sell something with higher access to you, and you’re all over the blog all the time and replying in lightning-fast time, then it reduces the reasons for them to buy. They won’t reach out to become a customer. Not as much, anyway.
Seeking The Happy Medium
There is no single, right answer that works for everybody.
I would recommend that most newer bloggers make a point to acknowledge and reply to every comment. It builds the community and brand affinity. Obviously, there are exceptions. If you really can’t think up anything to say as a reply, then don’t stress it. I don’t think anybody gets value out of a bunch of “thank you’s” as your comments. Also, I’ve seen some bloggers who reply to comments literally within MINUTES…. and that’s insane. If you try to do that on scale, you’ll never get anything done.
As your blog grows, decisions need to be made. I tend to lean toward replying to comments these days – when it makes sense. The “trick” is not to let it take up much of your time because the business side of things is more important. Replying to comments is a marketing activity – so it is important – but if customer service and product delivery suffer because of it, you need to scale it back.
Many times, it simply comes down to setting expectations and being up-front about what to expect.
What Say You?
Do you make a point to reply to comments on your blog?
Do you understand when bloggers don’t reply to you, or do take it personally when they don’t reply?
How do YOU handle this?