8 min read
Have you heard all the guff rumbling around about blog comments? It’s actually been in discussion for years now. Bloggers from all corners of the Internet have been debating the validity/value/currency/staying power of the comments section on blogs and usually coming up strong on either side of the fence.
I’m not sure how far back the debate goes, but I am sure that powerhouse bloggers like Seth Godin have some pretty strong stances against comments. Even Copyblogger took them down for a while (with some added healthy boundaries, their comments section came back with the site redesign in January of 2016).
So before I get into our personal stance on comments (Is it any surprise that we love them?), just to play Devil’s Advocate, I’ll tell you why a bunch of people have said adios to the comments section.
Its seems the biggest reason people are shutting down comments sections relates to the upswing in social media. There’s been a cultural shift where most all conversations – political, social, familial – are taking place across the many varied social platforms, and it’s no different in the blog world.
Seeing the potential with social media’s span, many bloggers have made this a permanent move. With the ease of scanning, quick shares, and a wider audience, it’s more likely that content will be found by new readers when you direct comments to social media. It also allows bloggers to take the conversation to a resource they want to point out.
For example, Tara Gentile is a proponent for Google +. It only makes sense for her to use this medium as her preferred way to communicate with her audience.
And the girls at Being Boss have created an amazing space with their Facebook group. For them, this private group is the best place for their community to interact with each other and with Kathleen and Emily.
As more and more people continue to adapt to Twitter and it’s social media brothers and sisters, I don’t see this trend changing anytime soon.
While the move to social media and other spaces has been the overwhelming reason I hear, the next reason on bloggers’ lists is their annoyance with spam. If you’re a blogger yourself or if you’ve ever checked the comments section on your favorite blog, I’m sure you’ve seen the ridiculous amount of spam comments. Links to pill-pushing sites, pingbacks, poorly developed sentence structure, and who knows what else – it’s impossible to be completely immune. After using up so much valuable time trimming the fat, bloggers like Michael Hyatt decided to cut the comments.
I spend about ten minutes a day culling the spam. It may not sound like much, until you add it all up. That’s five hours a month or sixty hours a year. You know me: I can do a lot with sixty hours.
I get it. All those spammy comments add up creating a mountain of monitoring work for for bloggers. By deleting comments, all that extra work and clutter is undone in one easy swoop.
So it’s not all dark clouds and rain in your parade. Now that you’ve heard the other side’s reasons, – which I can totally understand – let’s forget about those teeny tiny annoyances and talk about how great comments really are.
Ps-Hyatt did eventually bring comments back a year after taking them away.
I believe my feelings about comments are beautiful summed up by the ever-wise Pat Flynn.
Without comments, a blog isn’t really a blog. To me, blogging is not just about publishing content, but also the two-way communication and community building aspects behind it.
Engagement, engagement, engagement.
It’s pretty obvious that the biggest value of keeping comments is the engagement factor. Giving your audience an easy and quick way to directly communicate with you is, in my opinion, unmatched. Yes, you can carry the conversation over to social media to like and retweet all the things, but that extra step is kind of annoying, right? I’d rather stay on the same page I was reading to find out more.
But have you ever wondered if that engagement will actually help your bottom line? Wonder no more! A while ago, Brian Harris was struggling with this same “comments vs. no comments” dilemma and took it upon himself to measure the validity of comments. There’s a little too much math involved for me to get into it, so you can read Brian’s commenting experiment on his blog.
Basically, Brian found out that someone who commented on at least one blog post in 60 days leading up to a 10K subscriber launch was five times more likely to purchase from his launch than someone who didn’t. Five times is a lot of times! So yeah, I’d say keeping comments around is good for business.
Find out what’s on your reader’s mind.
The comment section is an amazing place to cultivate topics for your future blog. Your readers are basically handing you your content calendar when they ask you questions or talk to each other about different topics. Turn around and take your answers to their questions and write a new blog post. Research more on what their talking to each other about and do a fun series.
No need to guess about what to write when you can read your comments.
Helps new bloggers grow community.
When your blog is new to the Internet, it’s a little daunting to figure out the best ways to bring readers into your world. Lucky for you, the comments section is a cozy little space right at the bottom of your blog to talk directly with anyone who stops by.
Comments are for the community.
Skim through a couple comment sections and you’ll find people asking questions, learning, sharing their experiences, and making friends. It warms my little heart to check out our comments and see our readers engaging each other and lending support.
Where do you stand on the comment debate? I believe that however you feel, every brand needs to decide for themselves. We all talk to customers differently and our customers will most likely have different opinions about where they are most comfortable to continue conversations.
But if you’re following on our side of the fence, here’s a couple way you can create a comment-friendly environment on your blog.
Stay active. If you’ve decided to keep comments up, you’ve got to make sure you’re participating in that two-way street of communication. Let you readers know you’re there. Respond to their questions and ask them questions in return. Be supportive when they come in with an issue and celebrate with them when they’re excited. Be an eager-to-help host.
Show your personality. Being yourself will help your readers do the same. Your personality is an unfair advantage you have over other bloggers. No one else is the same kind of smart, funny, endearing or wise-ass that you are. Show off that charm! By proving that you are human, your readers will be more at ease and will be a on a fast track to trusting you.
Also, if you’re blogging for a company, never using the company account to respond to comments. Make sure you’re responding under your own account name. You’ll never see someone here responding as ConvertKit. You’re hearing directly from me, Val, Darrell, Nathan, or any one of my other brilliant co-workers.
Use a good tool. There’s quite a few commenting tools out there to help you organize, prioritize, and respond to comments, but our favorite is DISQUS. It’s what we use right here on the blog and I think it’s top notch. It’s super easy to install and get started increasing reader engagement. There’s so many cool features, but I’ll talk about my personal favorite two.
First, DISQUS allows readers to follow other commenters. So, if I really liked what someone was saying, I could follow them to see where else they’ve been commenting.
Second, DISQUS helps me discover other top conversations happening on the blog. It lets me know where everyone is congregating so I don’t miss out on the big conversations that day. Love it!
Be patient. Finally, you’ve got to understand that no matter how much work you’re putting in, community takes time to foster. Yes, keeping blog comments up will help you develop and nurture relationships with your readers, but you’ve got to put in all the work to earn their trust too. So keep on pumping out that great content and talking to your readers. They’ll love you for it, and you’ll love them for all the attention 🙂
All this talk of comments has me itching to respond to some new ones! I’d love to hear from you in our comments section.
What are you working on? What are you excited about? How to do you feel about blog comments? If you had to choose between pizza or tacos for the rest of your life…what would you chose???
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