The Value of Blog Comments

website-design-guide-cover-2

Free: 10 Things the Best Law-Firm Website Designs Have in Common

For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dharmasphere/20993325/

When you write your blog entries and/or read your favorite blogs, are you participating and becoming part of the conversation or are you just writing and reading without any interaction? Commenting on blogs is a great way to extend your presence online, meet other bloggers, business owners, and potential customers, and ultimately drive more traffic to your own blog and website. This blogger goes so far as to argue that:

“A blog without comments enabled is not a blog. It’s more like a church pulpit. You preach the word, and the audience passively receives your evangelical message.”

Consider the value of the comment section when you shop on Amazon, browse through Yelp or Trip Advisor. I find that these are the most valuable sections of these sites and offer more useful and credible information.

Only 1 out of every 100 Readers Comment on a Blog

Regardless of all the valid reasons to contribute, there remains a tiny percentage of readers who actually add comments. This provides a unique opportunity! Even if you don’t have a blog, you can (and should) participate in the conversations that are happening. You will become part of the select few who actually speak up and actively connect to a select community. Consider some of these statistics:

  • Jakob Nielsen’s study finds that 90% of online community users are lurkers (read or observe without contributing)
  • Only 9% of users contribute ‘a little’
  • 1% actively contribute

So 1% of a blog’s users are actively engaging with a blog and the rest are at best occasional contributors. As a part of the community, this means that your comments are rare and valuable, so be a great commenter and comment as much as possible. If you own or manage a blog this math can make it difficult to create an active and engaged community with regular commentary, so scroll down for a few tips on how to comment and encourage comments.

Pay it forward: be a great commenter

Commenting on other blogs is a great way to build your online social capital, get traffic to your own blog or website, participate in a community and target a niche audience. Before you post, keep a few simple guidelines in mind:

  • Stay professional, on topic and grammatically correct. This seems obvious, but I have witnessed many rude and offensive comments on posts. Even if you violently disagree with the message or opinion of the blogger, be courteous.
  • Find your people. Seek out a number of different sites that might relate to your work, related to your customers, your partners or your vendors. Visit these blogs frequently and contribute thoughtful remarks to these conversations. Example: If you sell pools, and write a blog about pools and hot tubs, find some blogs that discuss outdoor home decorating, home gardening, lawn sports, and other related leisure activities. These sites might give you ideas for posts of your own: what kind of furniture do you need when you own a pool? What are some tips for keeping your skin safe from UV rays during the warmer months?
  • Contribute new information. Make sure your response is unique and has not already been covered. Avoid leaving comments just for the sake of leaving a comment. While everybody likes to be agreed with, try to go beyond a simple “I agree” in your comments. What exactly do you agree with? Was one of the points made by the blogger more persuasive than the others? Which arguments were less persuasive? When you have a great resource or additional information about the topic provide links and/or inline quotes.  However, do not try to sell anything or provide any gratuitous self-promotion to your own site. Instead contribute your knowledge and expertise on the subject which will go a lot further in supporting your reputation.
  • Own your comment and consider your tone. Do not post anonymously – it is seen as cowardly and negates the whole point of community-building. As in email, recognize that your tone is easily misunderstood. Ensure that you do not sound like a know it all or disrespectful to the author.

Build it and they will come: increase comments on your blog

You might have the greatest blog and most amazing articles, but if you are unable to get comments on your posts you are missing out making your site more “sticky” and enjoying a more regular flow of repeat traffic. Once the comments begin to flow it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and easier to get additional comments. Keep these ideas in mind to get the ball rolling:

  • Invite comments, ask questions and be open ended. New readers don’t always know about comments or how to use them – invitations to participate are good for helping them to get involved. Including questions in your headings can be a particularly effective way of getting a response from readers as you set a question in their mind from the first moments of your post. Don’t cover everything on a particular topic – write open ended posts that leave room for your readers to be experts also.
  • Interact with and reward comments. If someone leaves a comment interact with them. This creates a culture of interactivity and gives the impression to other readers that your comments section is an active place that you value. Be sure to visit their site and return the favor of the comment. Reward the comments by drawing attention to your readers who use comments. It will affirm them and draw attention of other readers to good use of your comments section.
  • Be humble and gracious. Providing an opportunity for your readers to help is a great opportunity for comments. Pose an unsolved issue you have been wrestling with and leave the comments open so your readers can create a place to discuss. Being defensive is never appreciated – be graceful when you make a mistake or receive negative comments. When you are able to admit you were wrong or that a contrary opinion is valid, it can bring other lurking readers out of the dark.
  • Make it easy to comment. Blogs that require a login before making a comment are less likely to get a comment because it creates a hurdle that some will be willing to leap but that others will balk at. Keep your comments section as simple and as easy to use as possible.

Now it is your turn – if you have never commented on a post, start now! Why do you think commenting is such a rare sport? What other ways have you tried to increase comments? Do you maintain a regular schedule of commenting on other sites?

Subscribe

Get Lawyerist in Your Inbox, Daily

Current Articles
Current Lab Discussions
  • Great post, Karin! One of the things that has perplexed me for some time is why people, particularly lawyers, post intelligent comments anonymously (I can understand anonymity for the wackos). People should take ownership of their ideas and opinions. It also adds credibility when a commenter is willing to fully identify him or herself. If a person is afraid of others finding out who they really are, maybe they shouldn’t be posting on a public site in the first place.

  • Excellent post! I live for comments on my blog, so I can really relate to what you’re saying. You’re right: I notice that once you start getting a few, more will come. It is like as if people just want to see the reassurance that they won’t be the lone commenter. Though I have a hard time getting over about 25 comments per blog post.

  • I’ve been waiting for this post my whole life. Well, since January 2010, when I started my own blog.

    I’m excited (and grateful) because you quantify what I’ve suspected intuitively. That there’s a good reason I’ve been leaving comments — strategic comments — on blog sites related to what I do. Even well before I had my blog.

    OK, here’s my give-away. Be brief. Whether it’s a comment or a post.

    Long content is hard to read, and hard doesn’t get done. Your post, for example, tips the scales at a hefty 2226 words. So, either go on a word diet or break it into more readable installments and serialize them. The latter might also build a more engaged followership, since there’d be a greater sense of anticipation…and a reason to keep coming back.

    Thanks again!

    DOUG