"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Houston We Have a Problem!" 7 Reasons readers don't comment


Let's be real here. For most bloggers, comments left on our posts are the equivalent of a thank you card from a customer or client. Or finding an extra 20 dollar bill in the pocket of some old jeans, or roses for no reason, or a love note from Keanu Reeves.
Okay, well maybe that last one was just me.

But, the bottom line is that it serves as a bonus to the joys of blogging.
And why wouldn't it be? Who wants to write day in and day out and not "connect?"
It kinda' defeats the purpose of "going public" with our "journals." Hello?

Simply stated, comments are like a vote for what we're doing. They serve to validate that we're being heard and that we're on track with our efforts.
They are also seen as a metric for success.

Don't believe me? I recently remember reading the Blog of a "celebrity" blogger, where he stated that if he lands at a site where there are little to no comments, he doesn't even bother to stay, because there are no signs of life there. Or look at it this way: would you stay at a party if when you arrived there were only 2 or 3 people, and nobody was dancing? Probably not.

Of course there are exceptions to the rule. For instance, if you've been blogging for a year or less, don't fret. Building a community of commenters takes time.
Or if your comments feature button is "disabled" by choice or chance, then this does not apply.

But if you've been at it for 13 months or more and have just 2-4 comments on your posts, (regularly) Houston, there's a problem. Don't personalize it. Just address it. :-)
Let's do some collective trouble shooting today.

Here are some common reasons readers are not connecting through comments.
Or as I like to call them, the Seven Deadly Sins...

1. They have to jump through hoops! I hate it when blogs require that I "register", type in a code, check a box that I agree to the conditions and a bunch of other baloney. Don't you?

2. There are already too many comments, (most of us can only wish to have this problem, right?) :-). At the hot spots with the big time bloggers, I don't even bother to add my 2 cents if there are already 50+ comments before me. It takes too long, and after the first 49 or so, nobody is really that interested.

3. There are too few comments. Very few folks like to be the first one to speak up, or to voice their opinions if they feel like it won't be really heard.

4. You're asleep at the wheel. Your content is not "connecting." Either because your post is too abstract, or not conversational in tone, or way too long, or simply not interesting. Then there are those who simply can't relate to your material. Ask yourself...is your message universal enough?

5. You didn't ask for input. For instance, there was no question posed at the end of your post. Or there was no problem to be solved, or no "ah-ha" moment of which to relate.

6. You're not cultivating good karma in the blogosphere. From my experience, when you stop by and say hi at other sites, typically folks will reciprocate. But not always. (See my post on "Blog Snobs" for details).

7. There's not enough "take-away" value. Consider--Did you make them laugh? Teach something new? Tug at their heart strings? Provide resources?

Take inventory. Value your time and your readers' time by creating content that inspires conversation, recreation, and participation. You can do it!
Comments? :-)

IMAGE Michal Marcol

23 comments:

  1. So true Jennifer! Especially "too many comments". What's the point when there are so many? It's not really a community discussion at that point. But if you were to have that many comments I guess you should just count your blessings as a blogger!

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  2. Wendy,

    LOL...we should only be that lucky, right? :-)
    Always a pleasure to "connect" with you.

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  3. Hi Jennifer,
    Great suggestions.
    Thanks,
    Donna V.
    http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com

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  4. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 31, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    irishoma,

    Welcome! Book reviews, huh? Swell! Thanks for stopping in. Where did you learn about Pen & Prosper? Do tell. :-)

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  5. I'm with you; these are good tips. I think they all add up for comment success. :)

    The only thing I'd add is that I will comment on a blog with just a few comments (unless the content was just un-comment-able:) b/c I like to encourage the blogger. And hey, you never know, you just might start a flood of comments!

    Good stuff, as always, Jen. Thanks!
    Happy Monday,
    Karen

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  6. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 31, 2011 at 5:08 PM

    Yep. I can attest to that, Karen. Heaven knows you've started many a conversation here. :-) But I mean if there are no comments for a long stretch or repeatedly. Thanks for always adding to the mix here!

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  7. Hi Jennifer -

    Excellent post!

    I also don't like commenting on blogs where the commenters are trying to impress an agent or editor. I give those situations a wide berth.

    Blessings,
    Susan :)

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  8. Jennifer Brown BanksJanuary 31, 2011 at 7:03 PM

    Great feedback. Thanks Susan.

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  9. Jennifer, you struck a nerve already, my friend. Great post. I would say that the "bad karma" thing was definitely true for me. For so long it never occurred to me that I needed to be building community.

    I never thought about the "too many comments" thing - in this regard, it's easy to see why Seth Godin closed comments on his blog long ago. And as far as too few comments go, when I finally got sick of having no traffic and decided to do something about it, I made a deal with my friend that we would always be the first to comment on each other's blogs. He was one of the first to comment all the time, and it helped other people to see conversation happening. And I learned to always comment back to the person who was kind enough to comment.

    I would say you're a master at that, too. :) Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Another reason why people don't post is because there is a glitch in a system during the time they'd like to post. I tried to post a comment three times for The Weight of Words this weekend, and it would not work. However, I was able to do so this evening.

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  11. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 1, 2011 at 4:04 AM

    Bryan,

    Great food for thought here. To be honest, I never thought of having someone to do the "buddy system" where we would each post first on the other's blog.

    Hmmm...anyhow, these days I'm blessed where I have a pretty good community. Some folks are posting comments just as soon as I hit the "Publish" button. :-)

    Don't feel bad about the stuff that you goofed on in the past; it's a learning experience for us all. :-) Thanks for your thoughts!

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  12. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 1, 2011 at 4:09 AM

    Marcie,

    Yep, so true! Sorry, but some things are out of our control. :-) Next time it happens, please alert me by Email. Yours is the first I've heard with that happening. Thanks for the repeated effort.

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  13. Yes, great ideas. I especially won't comment if the author never, ever writes back.

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  14. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 1, 2011 at 10:05 AM

    Hi Lauralee,

    Great to see you here and adding to the round-up. Thanks so much for sharing.

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  15. Thank you, Jennifer--this post has prompted me to reevaluate my blogging style. It makes sense to ask for input as a way of encouraging comments.

    On a completely unrelated note, you and I have similar taste in men, I've noticed! Maks from DWTS, Joel Osteen, Keanu!! I know, I know--lots of women find these guys attractive. Thought it was worth mentioning, though. (I promise to solely discuss writing from now on.). ;-)

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  16. Hi Jennifer,
    I can actually relate to the feeling you said about commenting on a post which already has 50 or more comments. However, when I read the comments, and I know I have something to contribute in my own voice, then I go ahead and comment.
    Great tips you put here - I do leave a question to my readers in every article I post in my blog.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 5:40 AM

    Janette,

    You're good for making me laugh, girl. :-)
    And there's never a bad time to talk about men. :-)
    Yep, I think it's a good practice to ask questions to provoke thought and input. How else will we know what our "community" is thinking? Thanks for the feedback and the smile.

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  18. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 5:43 AM

    Johanna,

    Great feedback. I won't say I would "never" do it, but I'd have to say something pretty compelling and absolutely necessary for me to add to the mix! But that really shows commitment on your part. Good to chat with you again.

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  19. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 2, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Hi Folks,

    Just an additional F.Y.I.

    I forgot to mention that another barrier to blog comments would be too many available alternative options posted on your blog.

    For example---
    If you have and encourage "Tweets" and "Facebook" icons and interaction, many hurried readers will choose those quick options, simply because they're easier and less time consuming.

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  20. Hi Jennifer,

    You are spot on!

    I am guilty. I will not comment when I see a ton of comments a head of mine. Like you said, "what's the point."

    I am not afraid of being the first to leave a comment. It has happened before. I find that it works out better, if you first, second, or third to comment on a post.

    I agree with you about the social media icons. Many people will click those buttons and never leave a comment. Honestly, Jennifer, I'd rather have the comment. :) Now, I'm headed back to my site to remove a button. LOL

    Take care,

    Evelyn

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  21. Jennifer Brown BanksFebruary 3, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Evelyn,

    Smart comment. Smart move!

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  22. OK, I'm three years late in reading this post - but it is still relevant.
    Jennifer, my biggest problem is the 'google sign in' thing = on my blogspot site, it says you have to sign in on Google to leave a comment and I don't blame my readers if they don't want to jump hoops, I certainly don't like to. how do you get around this as you also use blogspot to host this great site?
    I am really enjoying following links to other articles after your posts and going deeper into the vaults of pen and prosper - feasting like a web-piggy again!

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  23. Maribel,

    It's okay to be tardy to the party! :-) I appreciate your input, even 3 years later.
    For Blogger, do the following to include more commenters:

    1. Go to "Dashboard" once you sign in.
    2. Click on the "settings" option.
    3. Under "Posts and comments" look for "Who can comment" section.
    4. Mark the circle that has "Anyone".
    5. Save your settings.

    Hope this helps.

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