Sword and the Script

Why you should comment on blogs



by Frank Strong

Generally speaking blog comments are down, meaning it just doesn’t happen as much any more.  I noticed on Brian Solis’ blog tonight, a very good post, with very little reaction. It’s puzzling.  That post has currently earned some 700 social shares, with but just three comments (currently).

Just the other day I was having this conversation with my colleague, about Gini Dietrich’s blog. Gini’s got a fraction of the followers Brian has, but so many more comments (of late).

I’m not trying to make a comparison here, Brian is a personable, engaging and nice guy.  He’s one of the original social media adopters — and was talking about this social media stuff long before many people understood what he was talking about.  He was light years ahead of the rest of the world.  I hope your PR recovery is still going well, Brian! :-)

And Gini, I don’t have compliments that suit her.  She’s the type of person that despite her busy schedule, knows how to make you feel like she’s talking directly to you and you’re the most important thing in the world.  It’s not something that can be taught. That’s a gift.

All this is a long winded way to say we should be commenting on blogs.  Back in April, Ken Mueller wrote an excellent post on 6 reasons you should comment on other blogs.  Tonight, I watched Rand Fishkin’s video on blog comments (posted nearby) and it just struck me that this is a topic that merits, well,  comment.  (It also motivated me to go back to Brian’s post earlier and comment; I had read the post, closed the page and moved on despite having a strong opinion, I hadn’t shared it and wasn’t planning to until watching Rand’s video).

There’s three pieces of advice I’d add to Ken’s post and Rand’s video:

1. Make a goal to comment on at least 3-5 posts a week.

2. Only comment on posts where you have something to say.

3.  If you are missing your goal and don’t have anything to say, read more posts until you meet your goal.

How about you? Comments up? Down? Do you comment or just lurk, like I was going to do on Brian’s post?

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40 comments
KarenD.Swim
KarenD.Swim

Frank, great subject! Over the years I have watched blog comments evolve as well. Conversations continue to happen but they do not always take place on the site. People may share and discuss a post on G+, or LinkedIn or Twitter. This is especially true when the blog audience is the "social savvy." Blogs that cater to a corporate audience also may not receive many comments. Readers are behind a firewall, and many are not using social media tools in the same way as marketers. Some are more comfortable commenting one-on-one via email. Blog owners, especially new bloggers are more apt to comment on other blogs. I think it's important to discern your audience and measure the conversations accordingly. A lack of comments may not mean a lack of engagement. 

JoanStewart
JoanStewart

My comments are up, and it's taken 7 long years to get there! I recently created a Pinterest board called "50 Tips for Free Publicity" at http://pinterest.com/publicityhound/50-tips-for-free-publicity/ and the tips, each linked to a blog post that goes into more depth on that tip, has really helped drive traffic. A few years ago, I started replying to comments, which is another reason the number of comments is up, I suspect. Wish I had done this years ago.   

rdopping
rdopping

Frank, I come to you by way of @ginidietrich blog, Spin Sucks, and actually stpooed by here because of your comment to her regarding personal branding. Before commenting there I decided to check out your site first and landed here re: title and interest.

 

Great thoughts and any seasoned blogger would likely concur with your suggestions. I certainly do yet not necessarily seasoned. I agree that if you have something to say then by all means let your voice be heard and if you frequest certain blogs then commenting seem like natural progression.

 

Where most things fall apart for me is the "need" for commenting. I feel it as I try to build readership. Being relatively new at blogging I am still testing what really works and need to focus attention to the niche that I write for and the concern raised with getting comments is daunting. When there are none I worry about the content. I have noticed though that when a certain subject matter, egro social media or blogging tactics, are woven into a post the propensity for comments increases greatly. This post is a prime example. Why do i feel comfortable enough to comment here and not on the next few posts?

 

Likely content expertise.

 

There are many things I wonder about regarding commenting and I cannot or have not seen a winning formula. @ginidietrich wrote an excellent piece on her blog recently regarding "commenting back" on your reader's thoughts which, in so many words, did not explain much other than her and some other more recognized personalities in the blogging world's approach to responses. Interesting ideas but more anecdotal in context but you may find some fodder there too.

 

Anyway, my opinion is that after time in the blogosphere you establish reputation, your personal brand per se, and yes that was a dig on your comments re: same, and that reputation or voice is what either entices people or not to comment on your work. It does take time to build a tribe and trust. That being said, I have no opinion on why Brian Solis is not getting comments. It is a puzzling subject.

 

If I had the time, I would propose a study on this subject. It does facinate me and I am always looking for the right formula. The juice, per se.

TheJackB
TheJackB

Commenting is one of the most effective ways I know to begin, build and develop relationships with other people.

Latest blog post: Mark - 2012-06-08 05:36:45

DesignSpikeUSA
DesignSpikeUSA

Really great blog post. A reminder as to why we comment and what good it brings. 

 

Sometimes, we hold back from commenting because we may feel that what we have to say is not valuable or it doesn't lend itself to the conversation. Truth is, as long as we're being real (no spinners!) whatever we have to say is valuable. 

 

And commenting is a great way to connect with others, to put ourselves out there, and, he!!, to bring attention to our brand.

AminaB
AminaB

Great blog post! I think that one of the reasons why I don't always comment on blogs is because I always have to sign in with a social media profile or create an account (like I just did to comment on this blog!). I will try to not let that stop me from now on!

rachaelseda
rachaelseda

Very good reminder. I've had the opportunity to learn from and get to know many people I never would have been able to before blogs existed. I was given a free registration to a conference just because I was an active reader of one writer's blog and they happened to have an extra registration. It was one of the best gifts and most exciting trips ever and it wouldn't have been possible if it weren't for the fact that I had spent a year or more reading and getting to know this person online. It's easy to get caught up in work and some days it's hard enough just finding the time to read your favorite blogs but taking the time to do so, even just a few times per week is important.

 

I agree with you about Gini, she has a special gift, I hope I remember to stop and take the time to help someone or listen like she does even when I am extremely busy. 

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

Like others have said, thanks for the reminder. I do try to comment on blogs, but I really feel like I have to have something original to contribute to the conversation to get me to post something. Given all the smart people writing and commenting, I can get intimidated by my own perceived lack of knowledge or perspective. 

 

As for @ginidietrich , I know exactly how she does it. She really listens to what people say, and then gives a thoughtful response. That is a rare gift in this day and age (because it takes a LOT more time), but it is one anyone can master. Gini, thanks for inspiring me to be better. :)

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

Thank you for the reminder. I know the power of commenting but sometimes I let it escape my daily tasks. I will be honest and say that I do feel intimidated sometimes commenting when I see such marvelous comments already exist, especially when they are by really intelligent people. 

 

I also agree with you that @ginidietrich has a gift of making you feel like you are the most important person in the world. I don't know how she does it!

 

Great post!

KaryD
KaryD

Good reminders here, Frank. Something I know I need to work on. I think we're all just consuming so much more and it's easier (faster) to share or like than take the time to comment. But...that's really where the value is. I've noticed, too, that sometimes, because of sharing, the comments actually occur elsewhere. For instance, I might share a post on G+ and it sparks a conversation in the comments there, rather than on the blog post itself. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

I'd say, overall, our comments are down, too. We do still get a ton of them, but I think this year has been busier for most than the years past. The past couple of years we were all trying to figure out if our businesses were going to survive, whether or not we were going to have jobs, and what was going to happen with this country of ours. We had a few hours in the day to fill. And now we don't. Unfortunately, none of us get paid to comment on blogs so it's usually one of the first things to go when people get busy.

 

That said, I'm with you - if you can comment on three to five posts each week, you're doing really well!

richescorner
richescorner

I've had the goal for a long time to comment on at least 5 posts a week. I think it's good for building healthy relationships with other blogs as well as hopefully drawing some interest back to your own blog. However, it's also important that you don't just spam. The comment needs to be productive. Don't comment simply to try and get a backlink if you don't have anything meaningful to say.

Latest blog post: Power Up Your RSS Feed

LedaRose
LedaRose

My site is new and no one posts and it is a little frustrating.  I gain some solace knowing, from someone like you, that commenting is a waning practice.  Everyone wants feedback.  Can you hear me now?!? Anybody out there?!

 

I think that in the case of bloggers who do have major readership the problem may be everyone is in a rush.  I know that I am trying to read a  number of blogs everyday, not trying to meet a quota, but because they beckon with very interesting info.  It is just too time consuming to stop and post a well-worded comment.  

 

Thanks for the 3 bullet points, and I will put them into practice. 

AliahPR
AliahPR

Great pieces of advice. I will make more of a conscious effort to comment on the blogs I frequent! 

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @KarenD.Swim I agree with much of that Karen. The audience for this post is largely PR and marketing types.  That said brands should definitely strive to be approachable -- to get those conversations on a site they own -- with the intent of keeping the reader coming back.  Likewise, if a customer writes a post and mentions a brand, brands should strive to acknowledge as many of those as they possibly can in the comments.  Thanks for stopping by!

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @rdopping  Hi Ralph, thanks for dropping by.  I'm an advocate for commenting on blogs because it leads to what is happening right here:  networking.  For me, blogging is 1) fun 2) it's thinking 3) it's experimenting with new tools 4) it's networking.  I say that because if people come here and read, I'm flattered and welcome the conversation, but I have little vision of gaining blogging accolades.  I'm too rough around the edges for that. 

 

With regard to commenting, you have a good point.  My advice above could be improved.  You don't need to dive in -- easing in as you are doing is a better approach.  Comment on things that move you -- things you are passionate about.  That's the way to do it. 

 

So thanks for stopping by and keep on keeping on!  I've got to go find out what a sandwich has to do with executing ideas. :-)

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @KaryD Definitely a good point.  I do that too -- I'll see a post on G+ and just comment there.  That's one of the things I think is unique about that platform.  I'd also say, we've seen this before, with a conversation about a post ensuing on Twitter, or perhaps sparking an entirely new blog post. 

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @richescorner Couldn't agree more Richard, thanks for posting.  Also, liked your post on RSS.  Lot of people believed social shares would replace RSS, but I just don't think it played out like that.  It's still an important part of content distribution.

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @LedaRose Don't worry too much about it Leda.  Often times I think more people read silently than they do comment.  Usually this is reflected in the analyitics. 

 

However, engagement like this helps to draw interest.  Often when commenting on blogs, if I see a comment I really like and don't know of the person, I'll go check out their Twitter stream and blog if they have one.  I'd imagine there are many people that do this.

 

As for commenting, no doubt it's work.  But that's why its important to read a lot and when we finds posts to which we have strong reactions, commenting is easy.

JoanStewart
JoanStewart

 @Frank_Strong Thanks, Frank. I'm getting sales from products that I promote within the blog posts. Not every post has a promotion, but some do. Some also have banner ads below the post.

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

 @Frank_Strong  @ginidietrich Good idea! One other thing i forgot to mention that I thought while reading this. Not all bloggers are as good as you and Gini about responding to the comments they do get. If you want people to comment, you have to acknowledge them when they do. Not only because it makes people feel heard and valued, but also because it adds to the blog post from its original form. This is a perfect example. My initial comment has resulted in additional dialog about the post. That's potentially more content for your readers. Same with other comments left by other people that you've responded to. If you didn't make the effort to respond to comments, not only would people miss feeling appreciated for their input, but all readers would possibly lose out on additional content that makes the whole better than what you started with when you hit 'Publish'.

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @JoanStewart That's the way to do it, for sure.  I've got a post coming out on the Vocus blog next week about how a blog is like a store -- and there's a theme like the one you expressed weaved in!  Cheers, Joan, and thanks for stopping by (twice).  Real honor to see you here. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

 @patmrhoads  @Frank_Strong Good point. So maybe there are three camps: Not allowing comments, writing for yourself and letting the comments belong solely to the readers, and building an engaged community.

 

Look at this! I think there is a blog post in this conversation.

Latest blog post: My Son, the Social Network

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

 @ginidietrich  @Frank_Strong I think those are two separate questions though: should you or shouldn't you allow comments on your blog. Like you said, Gini, that's up to the blogger. But for those who DO allow comments, I'd say that if you want more, one of the things you can do to help that is to respond to the comments you do get. (Of course, content worth commenting on is critical!)

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

 @Frank_Strong  @patmrhoads Well, Seth Godin doesn't allow comments either, right? It's really up to the blogger. Mitch Joel and I have this debate all the time. He writes to write what's on his mind and he thinks the comments are there for the readers and not for him to interfere. Clearly I see it differently. It's something I've been thinking about for a while...I think it just depends on the blogger/author/writer. I will tell you writing a book nearly killed me because I didn't have the instant gratification of knowing whether or not a chapter worked. Blogging is definitely a different breed.

Latest blog post: My Son, the Social Network

Frank_Strong
Frank_Strong moderator

 @patmrhoads  @ginidietrich Ha!  Wouldn't put me on the same level as Gini.  She's a machine!  But thank you for the kind words none-the-less.

 

You make a good point -- responding is important.  Who wants to comment on a blog and never hear back from the writer? MG Siegler, formerly of TechCrunch has caused a seemingly endless debate for disabling comments on his Paris Lemon blog. So much for engagement!