Friday Fun — How to encourage blog comments

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: How do you encourage comments on your blog posts?

LisaJJackson_2014Lisa J. Jackson: I take the direct route: I ask questions (and bold them) to open a dialogue that encourages readers to reply.

 

 

 

wendy-shotWendy Thomas: Ah, and I tend to take the indirect route. I try to create content that is thought provoking and that raises questions within context. I know that reader’s comments are the Holy Grail of blog posts, but it seems like such an artificial measurement of the post’s worth. People comment if they want to, I don’t get bent out of shape if they don’t.

 

JME5670V2smCROPJamie Wallace: I love to receive and respond to comments. It’s nice to feel like people have been inspired enough by what they’ve read to add their own two cents. That said, I can also see Wendy’s point about comments being an artificial measurement of a posts worth. In fact, many prominent blogs have turned comments off entirely.

Before you can figure out how to get people commenting, you need to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why you want comments in the first place? How do comments support your writing/blogging goals?
  • What kinds of comments are you hoping for specifically? Do you want people to praise your work, add their personal experience to the conversation, debate your ideas, share related resources …?
  • Who would you like comments from – peers, fans, potential customers, potential readers …?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should start to get a sense of what kinds of content and post structures will encourage the kinds of engagement you’d like with the audience you’re hoping to attract. You will also have some good information to help you determine how you can use social media to drive/invite people to your blog posts. For instance, if you are hoping to have your blog readers comment with their own resources on a particular topic, you might share your post in a social media group of peers and experts. Or, maybe you’re hoping to get potential readers to share their personal experiences, in which case you might try something like posting your question (and a link to your blog) in a Goodreads group.

Deborah Lee LuskinDeborah Lee Luskin: I have occasionally asked direct questions, as Lisa suggests, though mostly I go Wendy’s route, of writing with passion about what interests me. I’ve started sending out links to my posts on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but I have limited patience for social media (unlike Jamie!). As a result, I don’t get many comments on my posts (nor did I know that number of comments was a scoring system of success). All that said, I’m thrilled when a reader does comment – whether to add information, tell their own story, or simply express appreciation. It’s all good!

 

32 thoughts on “Friday Fun — How to encourage blog comments

  1. I love this dialogue, and that’s ultimately the difference. I have been a bit schizophrenic about my blogs becasue I created three that I thought would allow me to post very different kinds of content. In fact they do which means it also disperses my followers.
    I have interspersed my content with open ended invitations to the readers, but didn’t bold them. I also use a conversational style in my writing so the questions could be interpreted rhetorically as well as direct questions.
    I’m replying becasue this particular post was created for the sole purpose of sharing experiences.
    Apart from rankings or raising profile of the blogger on a given post, the sharing dialogue changes the experience for both the writer and the readers.
    If you are merely looking for feedback, thumbs up or thumbs down or a retweet of your content I feel is akin to a pat on the back, after all who puts in a thumbs down and doesn’t share why?
    But I appreciate comments more when they do inspire dialogue and open my eyes to an alternative perspective. Hope I’ve done the same here.

    • Hello & thanks for bringing a few different perspectives to the conversation. I’m especially intrigued by your comment about starting several different blogs for different kinds of content. That’s a challenge many writers face, I think, and one that I have encountered myself. “Niching,” or focusing in on a very specific topic and audience, is one way to encourage comments because in theory you’re writing for a very passionate audience. But, it can be tough for writers with multiple interests and many-faceted writing lives.

      Interesting to think about and experiment with.
      Thanks for sharing!

  2. I got a bit hung-up on comments, I wanted them! But I realised that for all the great stats you can get over all Social Media, it’s only a reflection not a true record. People drop by, read, like but don’t bother to comment or even Follow; others will follow and comment – it’s a very personal response. But I also link my SM and that’s a great way to reach more people. I think it comes down to being human and we all just want to be liked 😉

    • I agree that there’s some element of basic human nature at work when we lust after comments. 😉

      And, I also agree that each reader has their own preferences and behavioral habits. Some people will comment all the time, others never will. You’re right that whether someone comments or not is not necessarily a reflection on your writing, but more a reflection of the reader’s way of consuming and engaging (or not).

      Great to keep that perspective in mind. Thanks!

    • Good point to pay at least as much attention to reader stats as to the comments. There are a lot of people who “lurk,” but they still count! 😉

  3. I confess I’m sometimes envious when I see a blog post with many, many comments. But, that’s not the reason I started my blog. I love to write and wanted a space to share my thoughts. Over the short time I’ve been blogging, I’ve gained some dedicated readers who will post comments and I’m grateful. Thanks for the post!

    • I think that’s often the case – that we attract a smaller group of “dedicated readers” who are willing and able to interact via comments. The “big time” blogs that get hundreds of comments are few and far between, and – honestly – I don’t think I could manage that scale. It would be tough (if not impossible) to keep up!

      TKS for coming by. 🙂

  4. I like comments because I like the feeling of community around blogging. I don’t do anything in my posts to encourage comments, but I do comment often on other peoples posts. Also, as time permits, I try to reply to each person who leaves a comment on my blog – even if it’s just a simple one liner. I don’t get many comments, but normally see five or ten per post.

    • What you’ve shared in your comment is worth another whole post, Andrew!

      You’ve honed in on two of the most important aspects of encouraging comments:
      1. Commenting on other people’s blogs
      2. Responding to comments on your own blog

      Seriously – that’s a BIG part of the secret sauce, as they say.
      Will file this away as fodder for a future post. TKS for the reminder & inspiration!

      • Looking forward to reading your post about this. I’ve been thinking about my own post on the subject, but my thoughts aren’t read to hit the page yet.

  5. Thanks for the post! I am in the process of acquiring new followers to support me through my first attempt at a novel. I am trying to build a platform before its release later this year. I have received some extremely positive comments so far which is great. I love hearing from other writers and I also try to reply to each comment that is left. Thanks again! Mark

    • Like Andrew, you’ve brought up a super important part of encouraging comments: responding to the ones you get. Excellent advice.

      So glad you’re getting some positive feedback.
      Keep it up!
      🙂

  6. At the end of every post I have something like this: Spit it out. The command comes with the theme and I can personalize the text the way I want it. I know it is not the everyday sweet polite manner to ask someone to comment that is probably why I don’t have a lot of conversation in my blog. Could be the topics also. Not your usual cup of tea.

    • Though your topics and “invitation” may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I’m sure there are people out there who would find your style and themes perfectly suited to their tastes. Whether these people are the commenting type or not, is a whole different conversation, but they’re out there!
      🙂

  7. I love comments, because it fulfils my need for a supportive community. I love to discuss, to have my say and generally be a part of things. To encourage a culture of commenting, I ask questions in bold, share interesting and engaging content, respond quickly and well, share on various forms of social media and comment widely and reliably on other people’s blogs.

    • All great tips, Sara, and the lively community on your blog is testament to the efficacy of your methods. Really what it comes down to a lot of the time is just asking and then being human in return. Our busy lives sometimes don’t leave room for that kind of connection and dialog, but it’s so worth it each time we make the effort.

      Thanks, as always, for being part of THIS community. 🙂

      • I am never too busy to connect with people and participate in community – and if I am, I make some corrections. It’s all about priorities I think, and definitely relationships are a priority for me. Not for everyone though!

  8. Many thanks for this post. Jamie’s contribution especially resonated within me. Blogging Goals! To be be very honest I have never really given this much thought. So for the next few hours and days my mind will be exploring goals – and whether indeed my post’s are actually working toward these. Cheers, you may have woken a sleeping beast.

  9. i love to blog. its liberating and getting people to comment on your thoughts gives me a different perspective obviously the one i missed.

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