"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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

How to Get More Comments on Your Blog (and Why it Matters)


One of the most common challenges for bloggers today, other than coming up with a constant stream of quality content, is getting readers to connect through comments.

And frankly, for many, it's a tough nut to crack.
By all indications, readers are stopping by to check out your goods.
The analytics provided by your site confirm this.
In fact, your blog's stats reveal more "peepers" visiting you than the local Lens Crafters.
Still, week after week, month after month, you get the "silent treatment" from the majority of your reading audience.
Sound familiar? Don't despair.

Here are a few things you should know to preserve your sanity, govern your expectations, and increase the likelihood of more feedback in the future.
But first things first. Let's examine...

Why Readers don't often comment

1. Many times, they don't recognize the value of their feedback.
They don't see that leaving a comment is like the equivalent of providing a tip for a waitress or service provider. Though there is no obligation, it's a small courtesy that "compensates" them for sharing their time, talent, and resources. And it makes the blogger feel appreciated.

2.  They  have a "voters'" mentality. They don't feel that their say matters.
Many are unaware that their comments inspire future topics and helps to navigate the direction of the blogs they read; including issues like blog frequency, subject matter, and even interviews.
Other than surveys, polls, or a psychic, there's no better way to assess their needs and their interest level.
Word to the wise: much like the political process, your "vote" matters

3. Readers sometimes forget that blogs by their very nature are intended to be "interactive".
Why else would writers spend hours creating content and going public with their personal feelings and failures, if not for the potential of feedback and creating a sense of community and support?
Hello? :-)

4. Readers are busy and have to ration their time and comments.
You're not the only one "courting them." And if given a choice, many of them will choose to leave comments for the celebrity bloggers (i.e. Darren Rowse, Carol Tice, Brian Clark); it makes them feel like part of the "in crowd".

5. They're "just not that into you."
Sometimes silence speaks volumes. Though everyone has off days where they fail to capture input from their audience, I have visited sites where there were no comments for six or more posts consecutively. Ouch. If this happens to you, perhaps you should reassess what you're posting. Don't be bitter, be better. Make sure that your content is engaging, addresses the needs of a specific target audience, and has solid take-away value.

6. Readers don't comment because you haven't asked!
Though this may appear simplistic, it's often overlooked. Readers typically need a "call to action." Pose a question at the end of each post. It can be something simple like..."Thoughts?" "Agree or disagree?"
Like the Good Book says: "You have not because you ask not."

7. You have too many comments or too few.
Remember the story of the Three little bears? The consumption has to be "just so". Too few comments and your readers may feel that it's not worth their time to provide feedback. Too many comments and they feel as if their "two cents" will get lost in a sea of many.

8. There's a barrier to entry. It's too tough to leave a comment.
Nothing is more frustrating than to have to type in a code, register, dodge pop-ups, jump through hoops, or practically sacrifice your first born, just to be heard. Run a test. Try to leave a message at your site and see what the experience is like. Are there any glitches? Does it take too long for the process? Is it easy to identify where to leave comments? These are things you'll want to assess.

9. You have too many social media options.
It's often easier for folks to "Tweet you" or "Like you" on Facebook than to leave a comment.

10. Though they enjoy your content, they feel shy about leaving a comment.
Don't take it personally. Sometimes readers see it as "public speaking." It makes them nervous or paranoid.

11. They feel that they need to say something "profound" or clever to add to the conversation.
Not so. Not always. I think I speak for most bloggers who sometimes appreciate the proverbial pat on the back with simple comments like "good job." Or "Thanks for sharing this." Ironically, I get direct emails from people like this, but they hesitate to leave it on the blog.
Though I'm not complaining; it just confuses me. :-)

12. Readers don't always consider that leaving a comment has mutual benefits.
Many times if a person leaves a comment at a site they've visited the blogger will reciprocate. Additionally, it's a quick an effective way to get "discovered" at other sites. Really. It's true. I have actually had "followers" say that they discovered my site through a comment I made somewhere else, and they simply followed the link. Michael Corley, realtor and entrepreneur is an example.

Okay, now that we've "discussed" why readers don't always leave comments and potential ways to address the problem, here's why comments count...
  • It validates the blogger and makes him feel "heard." Not to mention, it's one of the few things now and days that's free and fat-free.
  • It serves as a success metric for professional situations. Did you know that the number of comments at your blog is used by potential advertisers, clients, publishers, and even blogging contests to assess your ability to engage an audience, build community, and sell your "brand?" For example, at Write to Done's popular "Top 10 Blogs" contest, 15% of the total scoring for each site is based solely on the number of comments received on their posts. 
  • It encourages today's busy blogger to go the distance. It's a huge investment of time and energy, and comments allow us to reap a return for our sweat equity. 
  • Leaving comments helps us all to teach, learn, and grow.
*Also, to optimize your chances of receiving comments in times ahead, make sure to respond to the ones that readers leave behind.

Well, there you have it folks: the good, bad, and the ugly behind the act of commenting. 
A special thanks to Linda O' and Michael Corley. Their comments inspired today's post.

Now, I'd love to get yours! Thoughts?
Which of the "Dirty Dozen" are you guilty of? Do tell. :-)


9 comments:

  1. So true ... I followed Jennifer over to here from a comment she left at Corbett Barr's "Think Traffic" website. I've been an avid reader ever since because of the comment she left and her work at Pen and Prosper.

    I'm digesting this one, Jennifer, and look to implement the suggestions made soon to grow a community.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer Brown BanksDecember 12, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      Glad to hear, Michael. I value your readership and support.

      Delete
  2. I think you are right about the fact that social media takes a big chunk of readers' time. No one can comment on every blog. I find that making the blog about the reader, asking a pertinent question, offering a give away or even a take away, usually gets a response. Thanks for addressing this issue.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer Brown BanksDecember 12, 2014 at 10:24 AM

      Linda,

      It was my pleasure. Thanks so much for your time and input.

      Delete
  3. I usually don't have that much barriers to write comments (or replies on comments) because I do find them interesting challenges, and consider them as great writing opportunities to practice formulating my thoughts.

    Hopefully this eventually will also result in being able to structure, construct and forumulate better blog posts on my own blog(s). Blog posts that get many comments & replies.

    Talking about formulating thoughts, in future blog posts on my blog(s) I like to experiment with 'blog post templates' with things like a good compelling headline, opening lead etc. etc.

    In a few recent posts I also actually ended posts with a short Summary and a Question to help stimulate 'online conversations'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jennifer Brown BanksDecember 12, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      "Blog post templates?" Very interesting. Thanks for sharing here.

      Delete
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