Why should I read your blog? Why should I comment on it? What’s in it for me?
If you’re creating great content that’s reason enough for me to subscribe and read. But I read a lot of blogs I don’t comment on. What does it take to get me to comment and interact publicly with you?
This week I’ve been sharing a series of posts: Four Leaf Clover Strategy for a “Lucky” Blog Today is leaf #3: reward your commenters and interact with them.
I’ve seen blogs by successful, smart entrepreneurs that have a comment section like a graveyard. It’s a little disconcerting, isn’t it? There are reasons.
There’s no traffic.
This one’s pretty basic. If you aren’t getting traffic you’re not going to get comments. Only a very small percentage of visitors will comment and often you’ve got to get a visitor back to your blog several times before they’ll jump in and comment. Traffic can be fixed though. I’ll give you some tips on that next month, but here’s one: go join the free Ultimate Blog Challenge (it starts April 1st).
The content isn’t great.
You’re brilliant and passionate about what you do, or you wouldn’t be doing it, right? Don’t save that brilliance for only your paying clients–or how is someone new going to know you’re worth working with?
One of the topics I’ve tackled before is the whole “keeping your best content to yourself” idea. I’m not a fan. Sure, there’s a ton of info rattling around in my brain that I haven’t shared on my blog, yet. But I don’t hold back ideas or content that I think can help you just because I might give away too much.
I’ve been around long enough to see when some recycle content. Now, that itself isn’t bad. Absolutely repurpose your content! But if you reprint the same exact article over and over with no updates or changes… every couple of months as a new blog post… no matter how good that article was the first time, I doubt you’re going to inspire a ton of comments unless you’re generating really high traffic numbers of new readers. You’re leaving your older readers behind and I’m not sure that’s a great way to build community at your blog.
Two thoughts on this: (1) There are some articles so helpful that it’s worth sharing them again. But why not spice up that article by offering part of it, a profile of how well it worked for a client or reader, then a link to the original? Or do a “part two” with additional thoughts around the topic? Or share the same ideas in a different format, different order, different… something! (2) Some people aren’t “blogging” to build community or even to “blog” as much as they are just using a blogging script to share their ezine or articles. If that’s working for them, then cool, keep at it.
It’s a little curious to me if someone doesn’t have new content to share if they’re only blogging once or twice a week. Entrepreneurship, business, marketing, social networking, the world in general — it’s all moving and evolving at such a rapid pace that there’s always something new we should be out there sharing with others, or something we’ve already shared that we can add a new twist to. Same topics, more/deeper/different info on the same strategies, no problem. Same exact article… I’m not so sure. I don’t want stale bread. So I don’t want my blog to feel that way to my readers, either.
Here are some tips for creating great content (back to leaf #1 on the clover).
There’s no engagement or interaction.
If you see a blog where the owner never gets in the comments and responds, does it make you less likely to comment? I’ve seen blogs where the blogger doesn’t reply even when a question is asked about purchasing a product or enrolling in a workshop with the blogger! Yikes!
But let me add one huge “IF” here. IF your content is absolutely great, IF you have a platform already developed, and/or IF you have a big enough community around your blog, you can get away with staying out of your comments or even turning them off completely. If you aren’t Seth Godin, and you’re still trying to find exactly where to poke the box and why your cow is supposed to be purple, then leave your comments open and get yourself there interacting–now. Oh, and go read those two books. Then read Thank You Economy and you won’t even think about ignoring your commenters.
Get in your comments section and reply to comments, thank those who comment, and answer questions that come up. Do you have to reply to *every* comment? Not necessarily. But at least show up and show you’re reading them.
There’s no reason to comment or reward for doing it.
Are your blog posts inspiring response? If not, maybe it just needs a little tweaking! Is there a question asked, opportunity to engage in a debate, or something to add?
Does your blog give readers a link back to their website/blog, or feature commenters? If not, there’s even less reason for readers to share their thoughts. I’m a fan of “do follow” blogs. I’ll still comment if a blog isn’t do follow, but I’m more likely to hang out at a do follow blog because I tend to connect better with people who think that way.
Here are some plugins and features you should consider installing on your blog to reward and encourage commenters (or functionality to seek out if you’re not on WordPress):
- Do Follow. More on this here on my blog and on YourWordsYourVoice.
- CommentLuv. This is one of my absolute favorite plugins. If you check out my comment section look for the “Commenter’s last blog post…” part — that’s what CommentLuv does. It rocks.
- Subscribe to Comments. Make it easy for your commenters to know when you, or another commenter, have responded to what they wrote.
- Top Commentators. On the right side of my blog you’ll see a list of the top commenters this month. Each of their names links to their website.
- Threaded Comments. This is where commenters can reply to specific comments. It’s built into some themes by default and you can change it under “Settings” > “Discussion” in WordPress. It’s enabled in Intense Debate and Disqus.
- Thank Me Later or Comment Redirect. These plugins give you a way to thank commenters. The first one sends an email, the second redirects new commenters to a thank you page.
- Twitip ID. If you’re using Twitter to connect with commenters this will add a link to their Twitter ID with their comment.
- Recent Comments Widget. You can feature your most recent comments in your sidebar by adding this widget. Just another way to thank and feature your commenters. Plus, it can help you get more comments by providing “social proof” that others are commenting on your blog.
And now, I need to practice what I preach so I’ve got to go whip my comment section back into shape (after I pulled my comments out of Disqus I didn’t get them set back up with a couple of plugins I mentioned here–oops!), and I need comments to reply to. So, while I go install plugins and rearrange my sidebar, please hit me in the comments section with…
- your favorite way to inspire comments
- the post on your blog that got the most comments
- what inspires you to comment
- a favorite plugin or feature in comments
- your favorite blogs to comment on and why
- why any of my points above are right or wrong
- or whatever else is on your mind about commenting
You just might find yourself featured in a future blog post, ebook or somewhere else around here if you comment… because that’s another great way to reward your commenters, come up with new blog post ideas, and it’s just plain fun.
Oh, and the first commenter to tell me why the picture above totally makes me shudder and not want to blink, you win a free copy of any product I offer here on my blog (look under “Quick Guides” and “Home Study” tabs above).
Photo Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/profile/c_francis