Your blog can be thought of in many ways. As a pulpit, a soapbox, a magazine, a platform, a newsletter, a diary. A lot of bloggers focus on the “broadcast” aspects, getting their message out. While great content is essential, never neglect the community element of your blog. As we have shown your audience can be your best asset. Here are some tips for attracting participation.
First of all, as we have said time and time again, you must answer comments that are made on your posts. It is not only the polite thing to do, it also encourages more comments. If people see they are treated with respect and they will get answers they will comment more. It still surprises me the amount of bloggers who post then sit back and ignore the feedback they receive.
I’m hoping you will be able to add to my tips or correct me if I have something a bit off. Will be pretty ironic if my post about attracting comments goes without being commented on!
On with the tips.
- Ask! – Ask for people to comment, you are more likely to get comments if you ask for them. Sometimes people do not know it is ok to comment. Just because there is a comment form does not mean people automatically feel worthy to post a comment. The higher the profile of the blog or the less the person feels they “know” the blogger the less likely they are to comment. By “giving permission” they will feel more entitled to comment.
- Seed - Like a tip jar, people sometimes need a hint, get friends to comment to start the ball rolling and you might open the floodgates. On some blogs people like to be first, on others there is a hesitation period where they do not want to expose their opinion to early.
- Ego - People like to talk about themselves, provide the opportunity. They might not be experts in the topic but we are all experts in our own experience and we all know what we like. You know the famous phrase about everyone having an opinion. Sometimes it is nice just to give people the opportunity to brag.
- Links - Bloggers and webmasters are always on the lookout for link opportunities. They might not be your ideal kind of comment but they might encourage others that it is ok to feedback. Allow link drops in your blog comment settings and do not use nofollow so the link visibly has value.
- Hint - Open questions are the best to get great quality answers, ie. “What do you think?”, but they can be intimidating. If you struggle to get comments it might be easier to give simple leading ideas for what people should say, eg. “Do you agree?”, “Are you for or against?”. “Yes, no, me too” are not great responses but at least they are a sign of life!
- Restraint - Resist the urge to make your posts too complete if you want to receive community input. That’s one of the great things about top ten lists, you have to stop at 10! Don’t put everything into the post, especially if you know your audience has certain expertise they are bursting to share!
- Usability - Sometimes people don’t comment just because they can’t! Make sure the comment form is obvious and easy to use. Also do not take the visitor to a different site in order to comment. The very worst culprits for this are the hosted services that not only take you to another site, they use a popup to do it. Why not inflict actual pain while you are at it?
- Open - While a blog with a true membership is more valuable, if you are having difficulty getting comments open up your comment settings to allow comments with out registration. We can get away with requiring registration because we knew we would get the comments, consider carefully if your blog can get away with it too, many can’t.
- Topic - If you want to attract comments then you have to pick your subjects. Some subjects people just do not have an opinion on, others you can’t stop people talking about. Current affairs are good but it needn’t be contraversial, politics and religion get people talking but can also send your blog down a path you might not want to go down. Press peoples buttons. You can endlessly recycle some topics, others are shortlived.
- Observe - Note the topics people often comment on, there might be a trend. Just be observant. Be on the lookout for topics people comment on and write about them.
Not every post needs to get a ton of comments but if your blog hardly ever gets a single comment then it will look unpopular and start a downward spiral. Hopefully using some of these tips you will turn it the other way and create a positive community snowball affect.
Now your turn, what do you think of these tips? Have you any other ideas? What has worked for you? Is there a topic that consistantly gets comments on your blog? Let us know!