Last week at Social South, Dell’s Lionel Menchaca and I led a Social Media Conversation on Business Blogging. I was hoping that the attendees would want to discuss how they could use a blog as a tool to reach larger business goals. But I was a bit surprised that most attendees wanted to know how to get more comments and interaction on their blog. This does make sense, as bloggers want something they can point to as being a sign of the success of their blog, and comments is a good way to show that customers are interested in the blog.
But I still think you need to link comments back to a larger business goal, so what I wanted to do in today’s post was address ways to increase comments and interaction on your blog. Then on Friday, we’ll talk about ways to link that increased interaction back to larger business goals for the blog (which is what your boss ULTIMATELY cares about more than the comments).
So for today, here’s 10 Steps to Getting More Comments and Interaction on Your Business Blog
1 – Ask. Yes it seems painfully simple, but few bloggers ask their readers to comment. Get in the habit of doing this.
2 – Respond to comments. Another no-brain tip, but it’s one many people overlook. The more you respond to comments, the more you encourage future comments. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to reply to every single comment, but it does mean you should try to respond to as many as you can.
3 – Refer to commenters by name. This REALLY helps put people at ease about commenting, and encourages interaction. If you want more comments and interaction, try to facilitate a conversation in the comments, and referring to commenters by their first name is a great example of this. Check out how the HomeGoods bloggers at the Open House blog do this. And notice how the readers are replying back to Cathy by her first name as well. The comments section is completely conversational, isn’t it?
4 – Respond to commenters on THEIR blog. If I leave a comment on your blog, the best way to ensure that I continue reading and commenting on your blog, is to come back and comment on MY blog. This is another seemingly no-brain tip, but many people overlook this as well. And track when people link to your blog in a post, and go leave a comment on that post! All you are doing is encouraging the type of action that you want your readers to take!
5 – Post regularly. Posting regularly does NOT mean posting 2-3 times a week. That’s ideal, but if you can’t do this, find a posting schedule that works for YOU, and stick with it. If it’s once a week, try to get that once a week post up on the same day every week. If it’s twice a week, then try to publish new posts every Tuesday and Thursday. The point is, post on a regular schedule so your readers know when to expect a new post from you. Yes, some of your readers will subscribe to your feed, but don’t assume this will happen. Train your readers to know when your new content will be published, and that increases the likelihood that they will read your new post, and comment on it.
6 – Moderate and approve comments as quickly as possible. Nothing kills the potential for a conversation to develop in the comments quicker than a 4-hour delay in approving comments. But if new comments are posted quickly, or aren’t moderated at all, then it increases the chance of other people jumping in and adding their 2 cents.
7 – Put the focus on your best commenters. The readers that comment frequently are GOLD, treat them as such. Maybe add a recent comments plugin to your blog, or Comment Luv, which is a WordPress plugin that this blog uses that adds a link to the commenter’s most recent blog post. Just remember that commenters are engaging in activity that you WANT them to take, so do everything you can to encourage this behavior.
8 – Put a ‘window’ on your comments section. Let’s say you write a post, and it gets a couple of comments. Then Jeff comes in and leaves an amazing comment that spurs 5 other people to comment within a few hours. Why not edit your post to add Jeff’s great comment at the end, and when you do, LINK to Jeff’s blog. This does two things; first, it alerts your readers that there’s a great conversation happening in the comments, and second, it rewards Jeff for his great comment. Which also encourages others to comment as well.
9 – Be controversial. This works with a BIG caveat; being controversial works great if you are taking a stance on an issue that you are passionate about, but not so much if you are being controversial just for the sake of getting a traffic spike. And yes, your readers can tell the difference.
For example, my most commented on post ever was this one I wrote a few months ago on The Viral Garden. This post tackles a subject that a lot of bloggers wrestle with; which is more important, good content, or having a community of readers for your blog. My stance is that community is more important, so instead of taking a ‘what do you think?’ stance, I titled the post ‘The idea that ‘content is king’ in blogging is total bullshit’. And I stated my position so strongly because I knew that it would encourage BOTH sides of this issue to comment, and that’s exactly what happened. But again, if this wasn’t an issue that I wasn’t passionate about, it wouldn’t have worked as well. So this is a well that most of us can only dip into so often, in my opinion.
10 – Thank your readers for commenting. I do this all the time, not because I am trying to ‘encourage’ them to comment more, but because I am honestly appreciative of their comments. If you are as well, your readers will pick up on that, and they’ll want to comment more.
These are 10 tips for getting more comments on your company’s blog. On Friday, we’ll look at ways to tie that increased interaction back into reaching your larger business goals. If all this is still confusing to you, please email me as I’ll be happy to discuss how we could work together to improve your blogging efforts!