You write that fantastic blog post. You spend a lot of time on it. You stare at it in all it’s glory. You think, “Damn! That’s a hot post!”. So, you publish it. Sit back and wait for the limelight and praise of your audience. But…
Crickets. Deafening silence.
Quiet enough where you also just want to make your next blog post one single word: “WTF!”.
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The Real Scoop on Comments
In my recent informal survey about your frustrations, one of the big ones had to do with a lack of commentary on your blog posts.
Now, before I begin talking to you about some ways to get more comments, let me remind you of something…
Very often, it isn’t your fault at all. In fact, there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with your blog.
It is VERY common in other niches to not get much blog commentary. In our little bubble of “blogging about blogging”, we usually see more comments. If that’s all you look at, it is natural to feel pretty down because you don’t get as many comments.
Bloggers just happen to comment on other blogs a lot. Regular readers (who don’t blog) are USED to the one-way flow of the Internet. To them, it just feels weird to post a comment.
Case in point: My own tech site, PCMech. That site gets a lot of daily traffic, yet you’ll notice that the posts don’t get nearly as much commentary as this blog. The big difference is that the audience over there are not bloggers and are used to simply reading and moving on, whereas you guys are MUCH more likely to comment because you’re bloggers. Those guys are more into things like forums.
That isn’t to say that one of my goals there isn’t to increase comments. It is. That said, it is also VERY likely that PCMech will never get the came comment ratio as this blog. The audiences are very different.
So, don’t be down on yourself, guys! Is traffic increasing on your site? Are people spending time on your site and reading what you have to say? That’s a much more important measurement than your number of comments.
Yeah, But I Still Want Comments!
I don’t blame you. After all, blogging without any feedback is like talking to a wall.
So, here are some ways to get blog comments that I have found work…
1. Ask For Them. – Pretty simple. At the end of your blog posts, ask people to comment. Better yet, ask them a direct question related to your post, and ask them to answer it. Give them a REASON to comment. Give them some direction. Because if you leave it to them to come up with something to say, they probably won’t bother.
2. Use Question Posts. – Case in point, my question about frustrations posted a couple days ago. The post was short and sweet and had only one purpose – to ask you a question. I also backed it up with a quick email to my mailing list to drive people into that post. The key here is being brief. Don’t wander all over the place in a question post. Just lay the groundwork, ask the question, then shut up and let them answer it. When you email your list about it, don’t tell them the question directly. Incite them to click into your blog to discover what it is.
3. Don’t Lecture Them All The Time. In other words, straight-up instructional posts don’t always warrant a comment. What can they say, “Thanks”? Well, most people won’t bother with that (especially in non-blogger niches). Try posting opinion pieces some times and ask your audience if they agree or disagree. Provoke them. 🙂
4. Interact. When you are building up your blog, it is important that you try to reply to every comment. This way, people feel like they’re getting recognized and noticed for their input on your blog. As time goes on, your community will begin to interact with each other. It will still be important that you interact in your comments, but perhaps not to EVERY one. There is a balancing act involved here as the blog grows, but in those early days you should make acknowledgement of your blog comments a priority.
5. Use email notifications. When your blog is sending out emails for new comments (especially replies to comments), this brings people back to see what the reply was. This, in turn, sparks actual conversation. If you are using WordPress’s internal comment system, then Subscribe to Comments is a pretty popular way to go. Personally, I use Disqus for my comments and like the fact that those emails are now outsourced. Sending emails from your own server can sometimes prove a bad idea.
6. Make it easy and obvious. Another reason I like Disqus is that, once you have a profile, you can comment on any blog which uses Disqus without entering any information. It just knows who I am. Whatever you can do to grease the line and make it super-easy to post, it will help. Also, you can test out different visual ways to draw people in to post a comment. For example, most blogs have the form for posting a comment way down at the bottom. Try putting it at the top. You could even couple it with a call to action and an arrow which points right to the comment form. This will make it much easier and more obvious, rather than hoping they know to scroll down the page to find your comment form. You can also test different colors on the comment form to draw the eyes in. Different submit buttons for the comment, perhaps different background colors on the form fields, etc.
7. Draw out the conversation. This is a bit of a mix of other things I’ve mentioned, but the idea is to continue the conversation between blog posts. In other words, instead of each blog post being a self-contained island, you can make the blog a constant stream of on-going conversation. One way to do that is to make your next post a direct reaction to your own commenters. You could even highlight one of your commenters in a blog post and make a post out of it. In other words, make your blog’s content part of the conversation itself, rather than a top/down approach where the comments are merely a reaction.
Ending The Silence
Keeping in mind what I said before (that most niches don’t see as much commentary), realize that there ARE things you can to do draw out more comments. Just see the 7 points above.
But, realize it is a process and one which builds inertia over time. Don’t get frustrated when you try one of the 7 points above and don’t immediately see an influx of comments. These things have to take time. Commenters are, by nature, the people who are more mentally dedicated to your blog. These are people typically with a stronger bond to what you’re doing. If you’re just starting out, it takes time to develop that (along with some creativity).
Lastly, just keep in mind that this is very much an issue of mindset – THEIR mindset. So, you need to figure out what’s going on in THEIR head and use that to motivate them to post a comment. Just because you think a post is worth a comment doesn’t mean they do. They might be bored. Plus, not everybody understands blog comments. Perhaps, if they are more old-school, they understand forums, but not blogs. Perhaps using a forum rather than comments might be worth a shot.
Many people surf blogs like hypnotized, ADD-riddled addicts. Their eyes are darting around and they don’t fully focus on anything. Your job, as much as possible, is to have your blog reach out and wake them up. This will take a combination of quality content, personality, creativity, and blog design which points them at the things you want them to notice.
Time For You To Chime In. Yes, You.
So, what do you think? You think you can use some of these tips?
And, have you experienced this problem on your own blog? Judging from the frustrations I’ve seen with many of you, this is a pretty common issue. What have you tried to combat the silence? Has it worked?
NOTE: Notice how I’ve got a call to action here, with questions. And it is based on a conversation I started with my last post? 🙂 Also, note the added emphasis by saying, “Yes, you.”. Used correctly, that’s a little pattern interrupt that is designed to wake a person up from their boredom just a bit. 🙂 Did it work? 😉