Ever since I got into marketing, I've chatted regularly with bloggers. Some wrote for fun -- tiny blogs that chronicled their day-to-day lives. Some were entrepreneurs, using blogs to launch businesses. Others wrote for giant organizations, trying to keep a steady stream of leads flowing in. And while they all had different goals, writing styles, people to please, and topics to touch on, they had one thing in common: confusion about comments' value.
When these bloggers all had begun their jobs, lots of people hailed comments. They were the great equalizer of online publishing! Now, commenters were just as important as the publisher. Rejoice!
But now, with all of the new networks and platforms available to discuss a piece of content, do blog comments really matter all that much?
Truthfully, it's not really a black-and-white answer. Comments may be helpful for some and not so much for others. It really depends -- so let's dive a little bit deeper into the issue to help you decide if you should be worrying about comments on your own blog.
It depends on your content and marketing goals.
The value of comments to your organization depends on what your goals are. Do you care about leads, views, community engagement, or becoming a "thought leader"? Different goals mean different ways of gauging your success. And if your goals revolve around your business' bottom line, comments shouldn't matter.
So if you're getting zero comments on a blog post that is driving insane leads and revenue for your business, that's okay. If you happen to get comments on that post, that's a very awesome bonus -- not what you focus your energy on.
On the other hand, if your goals are around building a community in which every commenter is given equal exposure as the blog author, you should hope that people are weighing in through comments.
It depends on what readers do besides comment.
If people are just chiming in from the peanut gallery but not doing anything else on your site -- things like clicking on calls-to-action, downloading whitepapers and ebooks, sharing your content, buying your product, and recommending you to others -- does it really matter if they comment? Yes, here at HubSpot, we value what our commenters say -- and often get great ideas from what they say -- but comments themselves don't necessarily drive business results.
You're also missing out on a huge portion of your audience if you are only focused on commenters -- there are lots of things people like to do before adding their two cents to the conversation. Just because they aren't commenting doesn't mean that they aren't bringing value to your business.
It depends on what the commenters say.
Somehow, there are people in this world who still add hateful, trolling comments to articles. Every writer is going to have them at some point in his or her life. Let's be clear here: I'm not talking about negative but helpful feedback. I'm talking about those commenters who need to "add" to the discussion with racial/religious/sexual orientation/body-shaming slurs or just generally hateful language. That's the type of comment we do not stand for on this blog.
Same goes for spam commenters. You know exactly what I'm talking about -- those commenters who think it's appropriate to pimp a Louis Vuitton handbag in your marketing blog comments. Or those gobbledygook comments that say nothing intelligible, but link a keyword back to their website. Of course you know that most comments don't pass SEO juice, but it's still annoying to see people try to scam your readers because they have the authority to comment.
The bottom line is these commenters don't matter in the least -- to your business goals and your general life -- so why even count them? The commenters you should care about are the ones giving helpful feedback, real insights, or sometimes even a "Nice job!" if your writer needs a morale boost. (Who doesn't once in a while?)
It depends on how you define a "comment."
It's also worth saying that our perception of "comments" are so 2003. Back when today's popular social networks were in their relative infancy, people commented directly on the article. It's weird now when you think about how comments happen today. Today, they happen outside of your blog -- on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc. They happen in person. They happen in your company's IM system.
Now, if you're only tracking the number of text entries below your article, then you're missing out on the big picture: discussion. Discussion is the summation of alllllll of the comments you get across platforms. And discussions trump comments any day.
So if you're looking for that cut-and-dry, definitive answer, no -- blog comments themselves shouldn't matter. They are barely an indicator of success -- that's what we have closed-loop analyitics for. If you're trying to get a handle on a softer metric like engagement, conversations and discussion across all platforms -- not just comments on your blog -- are a better measurement. So go for those conversations and clicks, not the blog comments. That's where business happens.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog post -- but we'd rather let you pick your poison. Let us know in the comments or on your favorite social network (We're on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram most often). Heck, even send us an email! We love it all. :)