Previously in our series of 29 blogging debates we talked about the importance of blog comment moderation.
In this article in our series of 29 debates bloggers have about blogging we are going to talk further about interacting with your readers through comments.
How can you best leverage comment posting to get the most from your readers?
How to Adopt a Comment Strategy
One of the many enjoyable aspects of building up a blog is getting to know your readers along the way. Over time you will hopefully attract some regular readers who share your interest and passion enough to follow each article you right. In my experience these people initially tend to be bloggers themselves or have a specialist interest in the topic. But as your blog grows you will attract readers from all corners of the Internet.
Regular readers will have plenty of knowledge and input to share with you and your other readers.
When I grew the largest of my sites I had a policy of replying to every single posted message and I think this really helped as it brought people back for multiple visits. Over time I found that these regulars began to interact with each other more, soon I found people would:
- Post up additional information on blog posts I had made. This was great for improving the information on my site.
- Ask and answer reader questions without me having to get involved
- Monitor and report spam comments that got through moderation
When this starts to happen I think it is important that you then don’t drop out of the loop, if a question has been answered already then it seems pointless to answer it a second time, but don’t hold back if you have something extra to add.
Always to listen to your readers, whenever you come across criticism, think carefully about whether the input is actually justified before getting irritated by it. If you take the time to listen you’ll learn a lot about the people who read your blog which will only help you to make it better.
How Can I Attract More Commenting?
Blogs often start out very quiet on the comment front. Some seem to attract 100s of messages from a small number of committed readers, others seem to get 1000s of readers who aren’t so keen on interacting.
- Ask for them! Yes, it can be as simple as having a standard message at the bottom of each post asking people to leave their thoughts. Web surfers are often bumbling around vaguely trying to research a particular topic. When they get to the end of the a post they wil begon to think about what to do next and by giving them some options you can influence this decision. Always make sure you put some further actions in front of your user and the end of any page.
- Allow them “do follow” links. Often commenters are there to promote their own site, but the majority of blogs will block search engines from following links generated by comment posting. If you let people know that your links will be followed then this should result in more messages appearing. On the down side this might all be spam! Wordpress plugins such as “comment love” will even automatically link to the last blog post of the commenter.
- Get creative. Come with a post that is all about community input. Run a survey on your readers favourite breakfast cereal. This kind of post normally gets people interested and coming back to follow the results, you also get to post up the results down the line.
Should I post Fake Comments? I’ll be honest, I used to try this back when I first started! It took a lot of time and I quickly concluded provided very little value. You are better off investing that time in writing new posts.
Running a blog should be a fun activity (if you don’t enjoy it then go do something else!) and talking with your readers not only helps you to improve your blog but is one of the great things about working on a website. You get to talk to people from all over the world – all of whom share your same interest and passion.