Have you ever noticed how some blogs have more comments than others? I hear from a lot of new bloggers asking about how to encourage comments and get the conversation flowing. Indeed, building a community should be the second most important mission for your blog. The first, of course, is establishing yourself as an authority in your niche. While it does take time to get traffic and conversation flowing, comments are important.
Why do you need comments?
No one wants to hang out at a party where everyone is just standing around. In fact, half the fun of visiting a blog is reading comments and participating in the conversation. Here’s why you need comments:
- To build community – Comments are the lifeblood of your community. Without them you may as well be writing an article for some web content site.
- To meet others – Want to talk with other like-minded folks? You’ll find them in the comments.
- Gather ideas – Sometimes the best way to come up with ideas is by reading the comments. Not only do commentators have suggestions, but they’ll ask questions and offer insight.
- Find new blogs – Bloggers love to drop their links in the appropriate spot in the comments. This is a great way to find and subscribe to new blogs.
How to encourage comments
Ok. So you know it’s important to have an active discussion, but getting people to comment is often easier said than done. How do you get people to respond to your post?
- Ask a question – When you pose a question, your readers will want to respond. Ask your question in the title and again at the bottom of the post to encourage discussion.
- Inject a little controversy – Too much controversy scares people away but to post a thought-provoking discussion on a controversial topic gets responses every time.
- Ask – Ask your readers to comment. "I’m really interested in your opinion on this. Please tell me how you feel in the comments."
- Have a contest – Every now and then I like to have a contest. The most prolific commentator receives a gift certificate. Trust me. It works.
- Respond to comments- It’s hard when you receive 50 or 100 comments, but do try to participate in the discussion often. Your community will appreciate this gesture.
Basic Comment Etiquette
Sometimes comments are scarce not because of the subject matter or lack of traffic, but because of other commentators. A hostile or negative environment can keep others from joining in. Many bloggers feel moderating comments stifles free speech. I’m of the opinion that vulgar or abusive comments or comments made by trolls have no place in an intelligent discussion anyway. Moderate at your discretion. If you feel a commentator is being rude or insulting, feel free to do what you think is best. You won’t have a lively community if folks aren’t comfortable visiting.
Visit blogs with large communities. What do you notice? Commentators who are pleasant, helpful and know how to respectfully disagree. The key to a successful blog is a successful community. Be sure to encourage participation and a loyal community will follow.