One of the biggest concerns that IFB members share is “how do I increase comments? How do I get more of them? How do I make my readers more engaged?” And you all ask this question with good reason– comments are, without a doubt, one very important metric of a blog's success.
That being said–the dynamic of comments had changed drastically over the last few years. In the past, comments were a source of conversation, and you still see this on many large, older sites. The comments section worked similarly to a message board, with the readers (and author) interacting to share ideas.
Now? It's not unusual to visit a site and find the comments section turned off or to find the comments filled with “great outfit!” or “great post! Please visit my site!” And it's no longer common to see the blogger respond to her readers anymore.
How comments impact our success:
If a blogger publishes a post, and no one comments, does the post exist? Does it have value?
Rest assured, that post exists, and only time may tell what kind of value it has. That being said, many of us gauge the value of our posts by the reaction it receives: do people comment? Is it retweeted? Do people engage with the link on Facebook or share it?
I've worked with many brands who look at comments and interaction as the primary indicator of success: if you run a giveaway, they don't want multiple ways for readers to enter. They want to see a high comment count. They're not looking at how much traffic you drive through to their websites– they're looking for how engaged your readers are with your opinion of the brand.
And all those comments (or lack of comments)? They determine whether the brand is interested in working with you again.
Engagement through Social Media…
Many bloggers are placing less emphasis on developing strong communities via their comments, but instead are focusing that attention on developing audiences through social media sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.
These sites should be tools to boost your blog's presence and voice– not fight for your readers attention.
What are the benefits to this over having the conversation on your blog though? By promoting engagement through social media, you're losing: traffic to your site; the ability to analyze metrics; longevity– a Twitter conversation eventually ends, and then it's difficult to find it; and, your audience' attention span. These sites should be tools to boost your blog's presence and voice– not fight for your readers attention.
There's a significant value of bringing the conversation to where your readers are, but there's an equally big part of finding where your readers are and bringing them to YOU.
What's the future of comments?
There are many days I think the future of the internet depends on shutting down comment sections (especially on larger news sites!). On many sites they're become inflammatory places full of hate, ignorance, and judgement.
And then you get places like IFB… the comments are places of valuable insight and shared experience. There are voices that help make the community a better place.
I anticipate it will become more and more difficult to get readers to spend their precious time actually responding.
Internet culture may be quick to adopt and adapt in many ways, but that doesn't meant that we're quick to give up on tried and true. I don't anticipate the value of comments going anyplace, though I anticipate it will become more and more difficult to get readers to spend their precious time actually responding.
So…what do we do?
I do believe that bloggers can turn the tide and impact how people use the internet. That being said– those that closed off comments in favor of social media only are still being criticized for it.
Do we evolve and encourage other forms of communication and engagement, leading way to an abandonment of comments? Do we work harder to encourage commenting and engagement through all platforms?
What do you think the future of commenting is? What efforts are you taking to increase comments and engagement with your readers?
Do you believe that commenting is a dying part of blogging, that it needs a revitalization, or that other options should be pursued?
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