The whole “blog comments thing” is the bane of most bloggers, who assume that if no one comments if means no one is reading, or that people are reading but aren’t all that interested in what you have to say.
Not so. Did you know that less than 1% of all blog readers leave comments? (That’s not scientifically proven, but I have heard that statistic bandied about over the years).
Particularly in our oversaturated cyber world, in which many people read a handful – or even dozens – of blogs per day, most of us don’t take the time to comment unless something really resonates with us (or ticks us off).
Don’t measure your blogging success or your personal worth by the numbers of comments (or lack thereof) you receive.
Still, there are a few things you can do to encourage comments:
1. Ask a simple question related to the post’s theme at the end of each entry. The easier the question is to answer, the more chance you’ll have of receiving comments. Experiment with different types of questions and figure out what works.
2. Don’t require people to register for your blog before they’re allowed to comment. The registration requirement scares people away and many people don’t like taking the time to add yet another password to their arsenal.
On my blog, I require that commenters submit the bare minimum: an e-mail address (visible only to me). Having an e-mail address from a real person helps cut down on auto-generated spam. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it significantly reduces spam.
3. Don’t moderate comments. When people learn that you pre-approve comments, they may be hesitant to leave additional comments because they might feel you don’t trust them. If you write about controversial issues, moderating comments is a smart choice, but if you’re delivering mainly informational tips and tutorials, most of the comments you’ll receive will likely NOT be of an inflammatory nature.
4. Respond to social media comments. Many of us stream our blog feed into Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts. We also syndicate our blogs so our subscribers receive our latest updates via e-mail. I often receive comments about my blog posts via my social media accounts or via e-mail.
Some bloggers get hot and bothered when this happens to them. “Why don’t people comment on my blog itself?” they whine.
I say, “Get over it.”
People have different preferences in reading blogs, and we need to go where our audience goes. If someone comments on your blog post via Facebook, respond to their comment on Facebook. Simple.
5. Use Google Analytics, a stats-tracking application that provides detailed information about who’s visiting your blog, where they’re coming from, and what blog posts are getting the most readers. Oftentimes, the posts that get the most hits also get more comments. It’s a good tool to help you analyze the types of articles that most appeal to your readers.
6. If and when someone comments, reply to them. Sometimes it’s challenging to come up with more than a quick, “Thanks for your comment, Alicia,” but even that is better than nothing. Address the commenter by name or by screen name and try to add some additional “meaty” content to the discussion. When your readers feel noticed and genuinely appreciated, they’re more likely to become loyal readers and post additional comments.
7. Expect the unexpected. I write several types of blog posts (tutorials, reviews, commentary) and monitor the types that get the most comments. I’m often surprised when posts I thought would get comments receive none, and when posts I assumed no one would care about get comments. Recently, I posted a random Twitter update and received a comment from a “top 10, big name” blogger a few minutes later. Who knew he was following my updates?
BONUS TIP: Comment on others’ blogs & social media accounts. This post was inspired by a LinkedIn discussion to which I contributed a comment. The day after I submitted a comment, I received a “connection” request from another member of the LinkedIn group. She told me she wanted to connect because she liked my comment.
I’m hopeful that my new virtual friend will become a loyal reader of my blog and begin submitting comments.
You never know who may stumble across your blog. So treat all commenters with equal respect and learn from them.
Your turn! What’s your best tip for encouraging comments?