I am obsessed with blog comments. I count them and recount them. I see their number as a sign that people are genuinely interested in my content.
Comments, however, are not necessarily an objective indicator of engagement. Their number, big or small, can be misleading. But is shutting down comments a way to avoid getting misled?
Internet marketer Dan Ronken recently started an InboundMarketing.com forum discussion about whether "closing off comments until a decent amount of readership is built" is a good approach. An extensive blog without comments, he suggested, "feels less engaging."
"Leave them open," advised him forum participant Brian Rogers. "I wouldn't shut off comments as that would delay when people start commenting!" Brian wrote. Here are five other tips that emerged from the forum.
Give Readers RightsGive your readers the rights they deserve. Readers want to know that they have certain rights even though they might not actually use them. Blogging is about expressing opinions and enabling free speech. This can be achieved only if you leave the communication channels open. As Rick Burnes wrote , "For users, the ability to comment is far more apparent than the ratio comments/posts."
Engage Known People FirstGet your friends and personal connections involved in your blog. This will create the foundations of your reading and commenting culture. In addition, it will give you valuable feedback for improvement. "If you're worried about no comments," Brian noted , "once you get the blog going, email some of your good friends to go in there and leave some comments to spur the conversation."
Reward Loyal ReadersReward your loyal readers by allowing them to comment on your posts and participate in your conversations. They might be a small crowd but they are on your blog and are there to learn and interact. By not nurturing your existing relationships, you might lose your most loyal readership.
Pursue What's AuthenticComments are important as long as they are authentic. Often times, no comments can be more authentic than lots of comments. Anne-Marie McReynolds suggested that we should be aware of the different motives behind commenting. "Is commenting really about building authentic relationships or about SEO (i.e. backlinks)?" she asked .
Stop Anticipating CommentsDon't blog in anticipation of the commenters' feedback. Keep your focus on what got you started on the blog post. Seth Godin explains that expectations for responses permanently change the writing style. "Instead of writing for everyone, I find myself writing in anticipation of the commenters," he noticed.
In other words, obsessing over the number of your blog comments is like every other obsession--it leads to unproductivity.
Photo Credit: earnest70six
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