The Importance of Comments

Preston's Office

<p style=”text-align: center;”No, this isn’t an Apple commercial…Here’s me in my office with all my important gadgets: iPad, Macbook and iPhone (and lunch!).

I have a secret to admit: I am obsessed with my blog comments. I remember when I first started blogging in 2007, and we were still on the old blogspot blog, I used to have my comments turned off. Why? For no reason, really, other than we thought blog comments weren’t that important.

Let me tell you right now… I was so wrong. When we turned commenting “on” in 2009, and I started getting real, honest feedback and questions from you my blog readers, the experience became so much richer. This really could have been filed under Common Mistakes as “Not understanding the importance of comments.”

I know this may be obvious advice to some of you blogging veterans out there, but it was a real epiphany for me. When you turn on blog comments, you instantly begin a conversation. Instead of a one-sided story telling technique, you open up a back and forth forum for the world to communicate with you.

I read every single comment you leave on my blog, and though I don’t respond to each one directly, I do sometimes write blog posts in response to comments or questions you’ve left. Many of your comments are very inspiring to me, and give me a lot of material and thought for writing the next entry. I also luck out by getting amazing recommendations, whether it’s for books, vendors or even types of junk food.

So, you’re probably thinking that’s all fine and great, but how does one encourage people to leave comments on his or her blog? Well, here are some things I’ve found:

  • Ask a question. At the end of each post, I generally ask a question or series of questions related to the post. This does two things. It offers an invitaiton for the reader to come and join the conversation, and it also gives me as the writer the opportunity to switch sides and listen to your thoughts on the subject.
  • Focus on your audience. Yes, this is another one of those obvious pieces of advice, but you don’t know how many times I’ve gone to a favorite blog and seen a subject that’s completely irrelevant to its audience. Since blogging is so easy and addictive, it makes sense that you may end up wanting to blog about anything and everything that comes to mind. Don’t. Just like being a good designer and not over designing, you want to make sure the content on your blog is focused and relevant to the folks reading it. This isn’t to say that your voice or content can’t evolve, but we’ll write about that more in a different blog post.
  • Extend the conversation. You may have noticed that I post my blog posts on our Facebook page as well as my Twitter account. Why do I do this? Because I know that conversations are happening on different platforms across the web. Some folks may not have time or even want to come to my site just to see if there’s an update on my blog. If I update everyone across all those platforms, it invites more people to the conversation. A word of caution, though: Do not abuse these communities. Facebook and Twitter each function in different ways and if you only use each platform for self-promotion, you are cheating both the audience and yourself of all the amazing capabilities that come with both worlds.

Of course, some folks just love reading blogs and don’t feel compelled to comment, and that’s okay. There are a lot of ways to judge your blog’s success, and it doesn’t end with just blog comments. Next week, we’ll discuss site analytics and how you can use those numbers to help you come up with more compelling content for your blog.

Now, for all those folks out there who always read my blog but don’t ever comment, I want to hear from you! Who are you and how did you find my blog? Also, if you have a blog of your own, I want you to post it here. I’d love to start reading it.