No Blog Comments? It’s All a Matter of Perspective
Photo by DavidDMuir
timethief has a post about generating blog ideas, which I used to find a topic for this post. One of her suggestions was “Canvassing comments my readers have left on earlier posts.” This led me to read “Encouraging Blog Readers To Comment“to see just what as on her reader’s minds. But as happens with ‘inspiration’, I chose instead to read the reference to Chris Brogan’s post about ‘no comments.” So my topic became how to put comment numbers into perspective and get on with blogging.
Commenting is very close to all bloggers’ hearts. Many find comments not only a measure of success but a primary reason to blog. Even in this virtual world, we want to connection with others on a human level. The very thought of getting no comments can strike terror in our minds and feed self-doubt. But do readers attach that same importance to the number of comments on a single post? Are the embarrassed for you? Do they hesitate to subscribe? The quick answer is no. Rarely are they on your blog for the comments unless they are friends, fans or promoters.
How readers view comments
Most visitors notice the comment number, and scan the dialog for interesting comments, avatars or blog names. It’s sort of like circulating at a party or conference gathering. They may leave a business card (comments) to network with the blog owner or visit a couple of other commentators. Many who comment don’t expect a response and go their merry way, never signing up for the comment feed.
Many comments on larger blogs with high page rank are self-promoting. Some even have a game plan to be on the first comment results page! Blogging gurus tell us to use comments for marketing — it’s a good way to open doors. So don’t be surprised you’re not getting that kind of commenting on your lower page rank blog. Also that probably not the type of interaction you’re looking for to build a community.
Readers are too busy to do your job
I learned this when publishing several posts asking what they want to read about on my team blog. Only one or two people gave feedback. On another post we asked them to tell us their short-term goals so we can use that to tailor the content. Again only one person responded because they really connected with the introspection the question demanded. So you just have to do what you feel is best for your target audience and keep them coming back or referring your work to friends or social media.
Expert advice about commenting
Let’s take a look at what Chris said about having no comments and examine why you don’t believe a word he or other pro-bloggers say on that touchy subject! At least you don’t act like you do.
“It’s hard to keep writing when you feel like no one’s watching or that they’re not engaged. … Keep trying. Persist. Try new things. Experiment. Comment elsewhere to build relationships. And don’t give up. Blogging is more fun when there are comments, but your ideas are still just as valuable just being out there.” – Chris Brogan
Okay, sound advice, but there were exactly 153 words in that post, including the photo credit. He got 136 comments over a very short time span. Compare that to your blood, sweat and tears 900-word post which got zip in comments! To add insult to injury, there were 9 track backs from blogs that wrote about this153 word article.
One track back post by the FearLessBlogger added useful information. In a follow-up tweet, Chris had suggested that readers “choose three people who commented on that post, visit their blogs, and leave a comment.” Okay another tip to add to our list of bookmarked (ignored) advice.
So what if Chris and other big guys had no comments 3 years ago? They made it, but will you? You already know your posts are valuable and will only get better, but you need some validation. So you look for more posts about why you should not be discouraged. What’s wrong with this picture?
Chris has 30,000 readers, so 136 comments is rather small — only 0.5% or one half of one percent of his readers. So when we have 200 readers and get 1 comment it’s not so bad! Right? Remember those who comment are the ‘vocal majority’ and not necessarily the best sample of your audience. In my case, I can tell lots of people implement my tutorials and never leave a comment.
Yet I continue to write for the mostly invisible readers. They are the ones reflected in the RSS feed count rather than in the typical comment. You acknowledge that only a few are truly engaged in conversation, while others may leave the same comment “great, I’m going to try this…” and never do. Which is a bigger disappointment? Well that depends on why you’re blogging.
Who do you blog for?
By visiting the FearLessBlogger track back, I found his post on the question of “who do I blog for, you or me?” He concludes ‘both’ but says that “comments are nourishment allowing meaningful exchanges, like a neighbor sitting down to talk.” My contention is you can get that from a handful of blog ‘friends.’ Then concentrate on expanding your reach and finding more who use (cherish) your content and you. They don’t call it ‘comment luv’ for nothing!
If you need nourishment and have no comments, look off-blog. I’ve found great unsolicited testimonials on forums, and strange sites like TagFoot where someone bookmarked my blog. There were 22 views and 5 comments; one stated they had subscribed. Similarly people write glowing reports on StumbleUpon and you may not even know about it. Try a search for SU reviews by keying http:// http://www.stumbleupon.com/url/… your url. Be adventurous and follow the trail. You may find a new neighbor. If you want to brag, start a testimonial page until your comment counts go up.
There are no magic potions to gain reader conversation
By now you’re read so many tips on what to do, so just take some action. Pick one. Any one and experiment with it. Tell your readers you’re looking for engagement. Show them you’re serious by responding to their comments. Many bloggers end each post by saying something like “It’s your turn”, “what have I left out?”, “Share your experience”, etc. Be creative.
Now it’s your turn to Engage!