Blogs were originally intended to be sort of online journals, places where you could vent, and give your opinions, and make a stand about something. And for the most part, the writer didn’t really care if people commented on their writing or not.
But times have changed, particularly for those of us who use a blog as a marketing tool.
Our hope, as we blog, is that we will be engaging our readers, developing relationships, encouraging community. One of the ways to do that is to make it easy for your readers to comment.
In a previous post I talked about how to help your readers want to leave comments, and how to link to the comments area to help them out. In this post I want to address roadblocks your readers may encounter, and how to avoid them.
If you have a WordPress site (and I hope you do), there is a comment function built right into your site. In the Settings >> Discussion area within your Dashboard area, you can set the options to be the most helpful to both you and your readers.
- Require the author to leave their name and email.
- Don’t require them to log in or register (more on this later) in order to leave a comment.
- Enable nested comments so people can reply to the comments of others and have their reply be indented under the original comment.
- Set the blog to email you when somebody comments, and reply to each comment as soon as you can — that will encourage your readers to come back and comment again. And if they comment on an older post, it makes it easy for you to know.
- Once somebody has commented on your blog, allow their next comments to appear automatically without being held for your approval.
These settings make it easy for someone to leave a comment on your blog – and if it is easy, more people will do it than if it is hard.
So what makes it hard?
There are many plugins that create a special commenting environment for your readers. They promise to make it easier for people to leave a comment and also to create community. Personally, I disagree. I’ll explain why, using just the two most popular ones, Disqus and Facebook Comments.
Disqus offers a list of different social networks that you can use to sign in, and claims that by forcing your visitors to either sign up with Disqus or sign in with one of their other logins, that it limits spam comments. That may be true, but it also makes it more difficult for legitimate people who want to comment. I do have a Disqus login. Somewhere. Please don’t make me go hunt for it in order to comment on your blog!
Facebook Comments is designed to make it easy for Facebook users to comment on blogs. And it is good for the blog owner, because the comments go to the visitor’s Facebook timeline. And there’s the rub, for me. It isn’t that I want to make comments that would be inappropriate for Facebook, but I don’t necessarily want to share everything as a status update. So, for me, if I have to sign in with Facebook (or anything, actually), I usually skip making a comment.
Another downside is that not everybody, believe it or not, that comes to your blog has a Facebook account!
You’ve worked hard to craft an engaging blog post, and the prize is getting comments and developing relationships. Don’t make it difficult for your readers! Help them out by providing an easy way for them to interact with you.
I would love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment in the easy to use interface below!