Content is often judged by how many likes, shares, and comments it gets. However, comment sections get a bad reputation, due to the fact that they often devolve into spam-filled free for alls – which begs the question, are they worth your time if you’re running a blog?
Absolutely! Comments sections are still relevant, as evidenced by how many people choose to engage with popular brands by replying to their content on whichever platform they happen to use. This goes double for blog comments, since along with social media, they’re arguably the most direct method of engagement and feedback that you’ll receive on a day-to-day basis.
In case you’re still not convinced, let us walk you through some of the reasons why you should care about blog comments, and the best ways to get the most out of them.
Why You Should Care About Blog Comments
Blog comments are definitely worth your attention, and they arguably offer greater feedback than any other medium of communication with your followers. Let’s look at three reasons to ditch your prejudice and start interacting.
1. Comments Foster a Sense of Community
Watching a comments section fill up is one of those things that can make your day if you manage a WordPress blog. In fact, it’s a pretty nice feeling for everyone involved in the content creation process (unless we’re talking about a YouTube comments section, that is). The main reason why is obvious – gratification is a heck of a feeling, after all. However, there’s also a second, more important reason which ties into the long-term growth of your blog – the fact that communities are built upon their interactions:
A lively comments section is a great sign that you’re doing something right, as far as your blog is concerned. The truth is that most people don’t bother to comment on most content unless it elicits some sort of emotional response in them – if your blog is capable of achieving that, kudos to you!
As for the comments themselves, you want readers to engage both with you, and among each other. It’s pretty common for a lot of comments sections to have all their activity directed towards the author, but the best ones all feature lots of users engaging between themselves.
Over time, this dynamic will make your readers feel like a part of your process. Patterns will be established, you’ll see regulars pop up to give you their take on your content, and the best part is that they’ll feel compelled to check back in, and do it often, to see what they’ve missed.
2. Comments Increase Your Social Footprint
Once you have a community, your goal will most likely be to expand it as much as possible. Regardless of what kind of content you’re creating, it’s natural that you’d want as many people to gain access to it as possible, and one of the better ways to do this is through social media.
An engaged community is a valuable commodity, not only because they provide you with a feedback and support network, but because they’ll feel compelled to share your content if they deem it worthy of their peers.
Now you don’t necessarily need to set up a social media sharing solution in order for your followers to spread the word about your posts, but setting one up is so easy that it would be kind of silly not to do it. For this purpose, you might want to check out the Monarch Social Sharing Plugin, or the Divi theme itself.
Social media sharing is not a magic button to gain more visitors, however. In order for your readers and commenters to feel compelled to do so, you must in turn provide them with posts worth sharing in the first place. It’s a responsibility you shouldn’t take lightly!
3. Comments Help You Gain Insight Into Your Readers
There are plenty of analytics solutions available out there for WordPress users, which provide you with the necessary information to fine-tune every single aspect of your blog’s management and content creation process. You should certainly avail yourself of them, but why not also take a moment to simply check out what your readers are saying to you?
Your comments section can be a goldmine when it comes to finding out more about who your readers are, what they’re interested in, and most importantly, what their take on your posts is. Although this latter form of input will sometimes require you to have a thick skin, you most certainly shouldn’t ignore them.
At Elegant Themes, we like to take the time to go over our readers’ comments – as you might have noticed, since we’ll often have multiple authors pop into the comments of our articles to provide input. It’s not part of the job, but it is a goldmine when it comes to figuring out exactly what you guys want, and sometimes we’ll even come up with new article ideas thanks to your input!
How to Get the Most Out of Blog Comments
Just caring about blog comments is not enough, sadly. There’s still a fair amount of work to be done to harness their benefits. Let’s take a look at three ways you can wring the best out of your user interactions.
1. Foster Discussion
So now we know that we should take advantage of blog comments to foster a sense of community, increase our social footprint, and gain insight into our readers – but how exactly does one get from a couple of spammy comments per post, to a well-rounded lively comments section?
Well, the numbers required to actually make a discussion possible in the comments are all up to the quality of your content, and once you have those, there are a couple of things you can do to foster discussion. For example, we like to use specific questions to get discussions going, and complement the subject of the posts they’re a part of.
Take for example our recent 50 Creative Commons Images for Business Websites article. You’d think that there wouldn’t be much to talk about in the comments, considering the topic, but that section actually turned out to be more lively than expected. We asked our readers to share tips for finding Creative Commons images, and a couple came through with their own site recommendations – plus a few questions relating to image usage specifics. This goes to show that if you’ve built a community around your blog and they feel comfortable interacting with you, discussion is possible on any subject.
2. Ask Readers for Their Input
There is a pitfall to which many content creators are prone to falling, and that is naturally assuming they’re more knowledgeable about a specific topic than every single member of their audience.
The fact is that regardless of your blog’s main theme (be it web design or artisanal hammock reviews), there will likely be someone out there who knows more about your particular subject than you do.
If you’re lucky, your readers will feel compelled enough to expound upon different viewpoints within comments, or correct you if you made a mistake. A lot of times they’ll even share relevant information which you weren’t aware of, which is always welcome:
Most of the time, readers will happily provide their input without any prompt if they’re familiar with your blog and have commented before, but a little nudge never hurts.
3. Be a Part of the Discourse
This final tip is perhaps the most important as far as we’re concerned for getting the most out of comments, and it’s pretty simple to boot – be a part of the conversation!
You’d be surprised at how rarely this happens, even on popular blogs. Authors will simply pop in with a new post every once in a while and then disappear until their next publication date, unless there’s some kind of blowout – and that’s definitely not what you want to do.
Sure – a blog doesn’t necessarily need its authors to stick around and answer every question, but it’s such a great way to foster a sense of community and keep discussions going, that it seems pretty illogical to overlook. On top of that, why should people invest themselves personally into a community in which its own creator doesn’t want to spend time?
Even looking at the issue from beyond a utilitarian standpoint, if you’re investing your own time into crafting good posts which you can be proud of (and that you also want people to share), why would you avoid interacting with those very same people?
We’ve already established the fact that blog comments are crucial to developing a sense of community and getting your site out there, but on top of that, you also get to know a lot of people who actually enjoy reading what you’ve got to say and are happy to provide feedback. What’s not to like about that?
Creating a community around your blog isn’t something that happens overnight. However, as is the case with most endeavors, if you make an effort to deliver the very best of yourself and make it clear to your readers that you value their input, it’s certainly possible. If you don’t believe us, take a look at some of our first articles – we all have to start somewhere!
If this is something that you want to achieve for your blog, keep the following tips in mind:
- Foster a sense of community.
- Increase your social footprint.
- Gain insight into your readers.
- Foster discussion.
- Ask readers for their input.
- Be a part of the discourse!
What is your attitude towards blog comments, and has a reader ever left a particularly insightful comment on your WordPress blog? Subscribe and share your story with us in the comments section below!
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