Here's a healthy dose of honesty for our readers…
Not too long ago, IFB noticed a dip in the amount of comments we are getting on our posts.
Yeah, we panicked a little. I mean it was like, why didn't anyone talk about what we were writing about anymore?
But after taking a hard look at our traffic and stats, we realized our numbers were still doing well, in some ways even better than it was before the decline in comments. Our social media engagement was still growing across all platforms, so theoretically, our audience was still paying attention and participating with our content.
That's when we began to start questioning the worth of commenters. Obviously, it's great to see feedback on a post within one space, but does having a lot of commenters mean you have a healthy blog? Or has commenting evolved into social media usage? As our population becomes more digitally savvy, are readers now commenting in their tweets and Facebook posts, rather than on the actual post?
This theory makes sense if you think about the psychology of the average commenter.
Recently, an article on Salon discussed the habits of internet commenters, and noted that commenters (most of the time) break into the following categories: the hater, the moral crusader, the debunker, and the defender.
The comment box is where the reader has their soapbox. And as a result, commenters can range from the helpful, to the oversharing, to the unintelligible, to the “virtual hit-and-runs” as the article points out.
There's something about the internet that causes a feeling of emotional dislocation, the act of being physically alone on the computer yet within a community online, which for some people can lead to more vicious or outlandish speech and opinions than “in real life.” As social media has grown into regular household usage (not just those who are social media savvy), there's been less of a need to have an article to comment on — now pretty much everyone is engaged enough to rant on about how they had to wait in line at Starbucks on Twitter, or complain about how the weather sucks on Facebook.
On the other hand, there seems to be a separation in the intentions behind the commenter and the social media sharer. Perhaps the commenter is there to shout out their opinions exclusively to the writer, while the social media sharer wants the world to know.
So, the question remains: are commenters still a reasonable gauge to measuring the health of a blog?
Have you seen any changes in your comments section? Do you feel it has to do with social media? Or are the two completely different?