Blogging: You Need To Pay Attention to Your Comments

by Ron on September 28, 2009

conversation over coffee

Seth Godin, who has been writing about marketing in social media for years, decided to stop taking comments back in 2006. For him, it was a conscious decision based on the fact it affected the way he wrote and that he felt compelled to defend himself to every commenter. But not all of us have the clout of Seth Godin (or likely have to deal with sheer number of comments and comment Spam), For most of us, comments give us the opportunity to communicate with our readers and you need to respond to your readers and let people know you’re listening.

Two-way Communication

Some people would question whether blogs are actually social media. Social suggest that you have a relationship with someone. This relationship is clear on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn; but less so on a blog. What provides the social aspect of the blog is that your readers leave comments and then you respond. It’s a kind of conversation. And it’s important that it be a two-way conversation.

My TechTreasures by Ron Miller blog on DaniWeb was recently redesigned to make the blogs more part of the community. One extremely positive outcome of this is that I’m getting a lot more comments. People don’t always agree with me, which is fine, but the fact they leave comments shows me people are reading my work, and that is extremely important to me. I can respond to their complaints and criticisms in much the same way I might if we were sitting in a coffee shop with them in person, debating the merits of Windows 7 or the latest gadget from Apple.

Engage, Engage

The comments give you the opportunity to engage with your readers. You would be foolish to ignore this opportunity. Remember, that people won’t always agree with you. They will sometimes be nasty. People will use the comments section as a soap box, to promote themselves or their products–sometimes openly and sometimes subtly. You have to monitor the comments and decide which ones to respond to, but you should respond as often as you can and not waste the opportunity to interact with your readers.

Just like in-person interactions, it might not always be pleasant and sometimes even confrontational, but I encourage you to embrace comments and use it as a way to speak to your readers.

Photo by Ed Yourdon on Flickr.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 WritewhereUr September 28, 2009 at 10:50 am

A blog utilizes your voice; you speak with your voice to be heard and to move people either in thought/opinion or, through action. Getting feedback (comments) helps to shape your voice and it strengthens the power that the blog can wield. Blogging is not only a way to inform people, engage business prospects, and express yourself; it is also a way to exchange ideas/opinions and to encourage action taking.

All of this requires nurturing your blog to get the most out of blogging. http://www.writewhereyouareblog.com/?p=1659 For me, the commenting/feedback part of blogging is the most rewarding; it is the gauge by which i can measure the impact of my efforts! Thanks for your post on the importance of paying attention to the commentors on your blogsites. WritewhereUr

2 Amy September 28, 2009 at 10:58 am

I specifically migrated all my content to blogging platforms specifically for the comment features. After 6 months, I’d had all I was going to take and haven’t allowed comments since on any web site where I have administrative control. I’m sorry, but just like Godin, I just got sick and tired of defending myself to people who oftentimes obviously didn’t even understand the point(s) I was trying to make.

Maybe if I wrote on less-controversial topics, I’d feel that blogging was “social” but how can something be social if 99% of the comments are coming from people who are obviously just looking for a soapbox?

3 Ron Miller September 28, 2009 at 11:13 am

Hi Amy:

While I don’t agree with your approach, I can certainly understand why some bloggers resort to this. I actually agree more with the first commenter (even if he is promoting his own platform in the process). Those comments can also help you and inform other writing you do. I’ve found as a journalist, I’ve asked some of the questions raised by my commenters and as a result, I got more informed.

There’s little doubt that there can be a lot of noise in the comments, but I’ve found for the most part, it can be a useful means of communicating with your readers and having them communicate with one another. It also helps to have a strong Spam filter like the one found on WordPress blogs.

It might not always be pretty, but neither is in-person communications.

Thanks again for taking the time to leave a comment.

Ron

4 Mark Sherrick September 28, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Blogging for public view with comments turned off isn’t blogging – its telling.

Some bloggers do it for the conversation, and those are the ones that have comments as a rule.

Some do it to get stuff out there. Whether those have comments or not is up to the author.

Some people do it to hammer their point of view at you at every turn, like Seth. He says what he has to say, and then splits. Oddly enough, even though Seth doesn’t think he has to “defend himself” to commenters, he does have to “defend himself” to people who blog about him but not on his blog.

Granted, a lot of the time Seth has something useful to say, so he can get away with the cut and run thing, because people will read it and think “hey, I should share this…but I don’t feel enough about it to comment (even though I can’t anyhow)”

5 Ron September 28, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Hey Mark:
Even newspapers have letters to the Editor. It seems odd to me that you would have a blog without some sort of feedback loop, but Seth is a great writer and for the most part I’ve agreed with him and admired his writing. Most people are not Seth Godin. They don’t have is reach. They don’t have his recognition and they don’t have his brand equity, but you’re right that a lot gets written outside his blog.

His proposal last week didn’t go over very well and got slammed in many blogs. Of course, if you’re Seth Godin, you’re also a target. In the end, I think if you’re running a business blog–and that’s mostly what we’re dealing with here on this blog–I think you should leave comments open. You should be using these tools to create communication, not cut it off.

Thanks as always for *your* thoughtful comments.

Ron

6 Mark Sherrick September 29, 2009 at 5:56 am

He may not have comments, but he’s got an email address, and other ways to reach him – I guess he thinks that’s enough – if you actually take the time to get ahold of him, then you probably won’t be all “you suck you bald jerk” and would actually leave useful feedback.

7 Chris October 21, 2009 at 4:59 am

@Mark Sherrick you also Forgot Digg. If people want to comment on his work they will have to submit it to Digg first. Maybe this is another Reason he does not have Comments. Personally I am only Blogging a short Time but I noticed that many blog commentators Say noting when you help out with your Post’s but if you Discuss something they are Ready to Say your Post is Incomplete. Blog post’s are Not always Answers but Sometimes Questions and the readers don’t understand this Most of the Time.

Leave a Comment