1 – Put your picture on the front page and the About page of the blog.
2 – On the About page write who you are and why you are blogging. Both #1 and #2 make it easier for readers to connect with you, which makes them more likely to interact with you.
3 – Highlight commenters. Remember to always reward the action that you want to encourage.
4 – Use the Comment Luv plugin on your self-hosted WordPress blog. Again, when someone comments, they get an extra link, which encourages more comments.
5 – Add a form to subscribe to your blog via email.
6 – Add Feed/RSS subscriber buttons to your blog.
7 – Add a link to contact you directly, by email at least. Or add a Contact Me page. Remember, not everyone is comfortable commenting on your blog, they may want to use email. Getting an email exchange going can convince them to start commenting.
8 – Create a blogroll or ‘Favorite Reads’ page highlighting your favorite blogs and add blogs from your regular contributors.
9 – Write a comment policy. Tell your readers exactly what is expected of them when they comment.
10 – Don’t moderate comments. Nothing about the words ‘Your comment is awaiting moderation’ encourages a reader to comment more. Nothing.
11 – If you do moderate, approve comments as quickly as possible.
12 – Take a definite stand. Tackle a heated issue and firmly state your opinion/beliefs. Notice how Beth Harte did that in this post on Social Media ROI. Notice how some commenters are agreeing with her, and how some are disagreeing. But by taking a stand, she got a conversation started.
13 – Close your post with ‘What do you think?’ Possibly the 4 words that get more interaction than any other. Chris Brogan often ends his posts with ‘Your Turn’.
14 – Link to other bloggers that are creating valuable content. Notice this post has 5 links to other bloggers. Those links will help my readers find valuable content, and it also increases the chances that my readers as well as the writers I linked to, will comment here.
15 – Be personal. Lisa Petrilli probably does this better than anyone, and note that her readers respond in kind. It makes it much easier to share your personal thoughts when someone else does first.
16 – Get on a regular posting schedule. We talked about this yesterday.
17 – Write in a conversational tone. This is tricky, but what I try to do is write a post as if I am saying what I think first, and then I know you are going to make your point in the comments, and then we’ll continue the discussion there. But in general, think of writing a blog post as if you are writing a letter to someone, not a memo.
18 – Write posts based on comments your readers have left. Did Jackie leave an amazing comment on your last post? Did it spark you to write a long comment? Why not take that long comment and turn it into a new post. Then reference Jackie’s comment, and link to her blog as well. Remember, reward the behavior that you want to encourage.
19 – Add great comments to your post. If you don’t want to do the above, then you can add a comment to the end of your post. Add an UPDATE at the end, mention the comment and person who left it (with a link to their blog). This ALSO encourages everyone to read the comments, since you just alerted them to the fact that there’s some serious smartitude happening there.
20 – Write about breaking news. Especially controversial news, my recent posts on Groupon’s Super Bowl ads and the Kenneth Cole Twitter PR snafu got a lot of interaction, because I wrote about them right after they happened. If I wrote about either topics today, there would likely be MUCH less interest.
21 – Write passionately. Don’t sell me your ideas, tell me why they are going to change the world. Make me understand why you are so passionate about your ideas, and that increases the chance that I will get excited about them, and want to respond.
22 – Encourage readers to promote themselves and share more about what they are doing. Becky McCray’s Brag Basket is a wonderful example of this.
Responding to comments:
23 – Refer to your commenters by their first name. Remember when I said to write in a conversational tone? This is a perfect extension of that. Notice how the HomeGoods bloggers do this at the Open House blog? Looks like they are writing letters, not comments, doesn’t it?
24 – Respond to comments. Back to Lisa Petrilli’s blog, she usually has double-digit comments on every post, and she’s responsible for about half the comments on her blog. See the connection?
25 – Say thank you. Seriously, common courtesy isn’t as common as it should be.
26 – Ask a commenter to elaborate on a point. If Tom makes a good point but you want to hear more about his reasoning, ask him to expand on his thoughts.
27 – Leave comments on other blogs. The best way to grow your blog, is to leave it.
28 – Leave comments on the blogs of your commenters. Again, you want to reward the behavior you are trying to encourage.
Other Social Media Sites:
29 – Promote great comments AND the commenter on other sites. Often I will tweet a link on Twitter to my latest post, but will link to the actual comment that someone left. And if I know what their Twitter name is, I will link to it as well. Such as ‘Love the comment that @SWoodruff left on my post about building a blogging team’. That way Steve gets acknowledged as well.
30 – Participate in discussions on other sites. I have left a ton of comments on blogs after ‘meeting’ that blogger at #Blogchat.
31 – Promote other people. All this does is encourage more people to check out your site, and comment.
But Mack, you promised us 40 tips, where are the other 9?!?
You have to figure out the other 9 for yourself. Actually, after you’ve been blogging for a while, you’ll discover a few dozen more tips (at least) besides these for getting more comments and interaction on your blog. These ‘tips’ and ‘How-to’ posts are always popular because people want to direction. They want to know what the ‘rules’ are.
But if you want to be a truly great blogger, here’s the best rule to follow: Make your own rules. Don’t look at the above as being the ONLY 31 tips that exist for getting more comments. Look at it as 31 tips to get you STARTED. Figure out how to add to this list, then share what you’ve learned, so it becomes your 50 tips for getting more comments.
What works for you that I didn’t list? Help us find the 9 missing tips 😉
UPDATE: Aaron reminded me of a great way to encourage comments: Thank 1st-time commenters with a custom page. I use this plugin so that the 1st time you leave a comment here, you are taken to a special page that thanks you for commenting!
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jonathan left this fabulous tip in the comments for leveraging Facebook to get more comments on your blog: “One tip that I have found helpful is to get a discussion going on our Facebook page telling my readers that I am writing a post on it. I include their comments to the discussion in my post and then share the link to the post in the original Facebook comment thread. It really has helped me build our community.”