We’ve already talked about providing quality content. When I’m reading a blog, I’ll sometimes have this moment of “wow, this person knows stuff I want to know!” Those moments are what push me to comment, sign up to their newsletter, share or follow them on social media – all those things we want our readers to do.
I probably don’t have to say that I don’t have those moments when I read a post that doesn’t really say anything or is just flat wrong. High quality information is what grabs my attention.
But getting my attention is just the first step. There are several blogs that I read and don’t interact with. If the goal is interaction, engagement and ultimately community, we’re going to have to go above and beyond quality content.
One way to do this is to make your blog welcoming to commenters. I talked some about that in my Open Letter to New Bloggers. The short version: make it easy to find the comment link, don’t force people to do complicated sign-ins to leave a comment, and set down the Captcha and back away slowly.
On a side note, I can’t recommend the CommentLuv plugin highly enough. There’s both a free version (see the link above) and a paid version. The free version is more than enough to get you up and running. It makes your comment area stand out, and it encourages people to comment because they can leave a backlink to a post from their own site.
Reply to Comments
When you say something to someone, you like to know that you’ve been heard, right? If you feel ignored, especially when the person you’re talking to isn’t someone you know well, you’re likely to just stop talking and go away.
It’s the same thing with your commenters. If you don’t respond, they’re going to feel like they’re being ignored. The truth is, you probably read every comment that readers make. But if you don’t acknowledge the comment, how does your reader know that you heard?
Your commenters will feel much more welcome – and more willing to comment again – if you respond to their comment. Just saying “Thanks, I’m glad you dropped by!” works in a pinch. Of course, saying something directly related to their comment is better. If you can, ask a question and get a conversation going. (I learned that tip from Bonnie over at BonnieGean.com. Check out her blog for great examples of community building.)
Let Commenters Know There’s a Reply
To make sure your commenter knows that you’ve replied, you can use the Jetpack plugin to let them choose to receive an email if there’s a reply to their comment. (If anyone knows of a stand-alone plugin that does something similar, I’d love to hear about it. Jetpack is great, but I’m always interested in other options.)
Controlling Comment Spam
If you’re worried about comment spam, check out Akismet, another plugin that is also free for personal use and very inexpensive for business use.
You can also set your comments to be moderated in the Discussion area of your Admin Panel.
Personally, I’ve gone back and forth on whether to moderate all comments or just the first comment someone leaves. Moderating all of them helps me remember to reply, which I’ll be discussing below. On the other hand, it means that all comments have to wait on me to be able to moderate them, and I don’t sit at the computer 24-7. A long wait for a comment to be approved can really kill a conversation.
What are your thoughts? Do you reply to comments? Do you moderate them? Have you changed how you handle comments since you started blogging? Let’s talk in the comments.
Did you find this post useful? If so, would you help me spread it around by clicking on one of the social share buttons below? Thanks!