As part of his Social Media 100 series, Chris Brogan is exploring the power of blog commenting by "writing" his post through comments. (OK, I'm a day late in seeing this in my feed reader). It's an interesting experiment that has me thinking some more about commenting, a topic I've explored previously.
Many of the commenters in Chris's thread are complaining that they don't get comments on their blogs, something bloggers eternally discuss. It got me to thinking about how some people create an environment that invites conversation and some people don't. Since a major reason to blog is for that give-and-take, obviously a lack of comments causes a problem.
Some of the reasons for a lack of comments go back to things like the 1% rule or the fact that you may be operating in a really tiny niche that doesn't generate a lot of interest. But after clicking through to some of the blogs in Chris's comments thread, I began to see a pattern of behaviors that I think may be contributing to the lack of comments and therefore are extremely instructive. The result is:
Six Reasons People Aren't Commenting on Your Blog
1. You sound like a press release.
This is a particular problem when a blog is either being run by an organization or by an individual who's trying to generate business and isn't getting the informal, authentic nature of the blogging culture. The problem is that a press release is not something that's designed to invite conversation. It sounds like what it is--a way to get coverage from newspapers or magazines. It has its place in a marketing mix, but it doesn't belong on your blog.
Let me show you what I mean. This is a press release. Read it and then then let me know how drawn into a conversation you might feel if you saw this or some version of this on a blog. Right. I didn't think so.
2. You sound like an infomercial.
This is closely related to problem 1. Blogs that come across as thinly-veiled sales pitches don't invite comments. I would argue that they don't invite a lot of readership either, but that might just be me.
Certainly having some individual posts that are related to "selling" something can be OK, but I wouldn't expect a lot of comments on them. And I definitely wouldn't expect to create a big sense of community on your blog if most of your posts are geared towards pitching your products or organization. There are ways to do this, but you have to be adding value separate from anything you're trying to sell. I think that the Rapid E-Learning Blog is an excellent example of the "soft-sell" approach that works best in the blogosphere.
3. You sound like a know-it-all.
I've been running an informal experiment here for the past few months, trying to see which blog posts generate the most comments. Hands-down they are the posts where I ask a lot of questions and where I give incomplete answers on topics that interest me. I think this works for two reasons. First, no one is attracted to a know-it-all. Oh, we may want to bookmark their stuff, but that doesn't mean we want to talk to them. I also think it's because by asking questions and not having all the answers, we leave space for comments to happen. As a reader, it feels like there's more that could be said on the topic, so I'm more inclined to comment. Questions are the lifeblood of conversation . They need to be a regular part of posts.
4. You haven't showed them how.
If you're blogging for bloggers or for people who are comfortable with the conventions of blogging, then explaining what comments are and how to comment isn't necessary. But if you're blogging for people who are new to the blogosphere or who aren't that proficient with the technology, you definitely need to make commenting easy to do. This is something I learned during the 31 Day Challenge and have seen a substantial increase in comments since then.
5. You haven't created the right atmosphere.
You know how you go to some gatherings where the hosts make you feel right at home? Even if you don't know everyone there, they do a great job of introducing people to each other and creating an environment that invites people to settle in for a chat. It's the same dynamic with blogs. Some blogs make you WANT to talk to the author and to other commenters. Some blogs--not so much.
My personal feeling is that a lot of it has to do with "tone." If someone's writing seems warm, inviting, authentic and transparent, then I want to join the conversation. If they sound "institutional" or distant, the conversation will have to be pretty darn interesting for me to be drawn into commenting.
I've also found that I'm reluctant to comment if it feels like I may be breaking into someone's "clique." Not that you won't have regular commenters, but sometimes there can be a problem with having an "in-crowd" that emerges over time, making newcomers less likely to share their thoughts.
6. You just don't seem that into it.
I LOVE talking to people who are really passionate about a topic and are incredibly excited to share their ideas with me. I'm less thrilled to talk to people who aren't that into the conversation. Same thing with bloggers. The ones who are passionate about their topic--and allow that passion to shine through--they're the bloggers we want to talk to. But if your posts feel like you're slogging through them, unless it's a post on how you're slogging through posting, you probably won't get the conversation started. Blogging is about passion and about sharing your excitement about a topic. It's those posts that tend to generate conversation, not the ones where you're going through the motions.
So those are my six reasons for why I think that people may not be commenting on your blog. What would you add to the list?
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