Blog comments are serious business

If you have a company blog, you’re probably dying to drum up a few comments that can lead to a community. yet established bloggers have some surprisingly diverse views on the value of commenting and engagement.

Gini Dietrich revved up an interesting debate last week with her examination of blog commenting strategies but I think some important points were missed and I’d like to add my voice to the discussion.

Gini identified three blog comment “camps” …

  1. No one comments.
  2. The blogger leaves the comments open for everyone to debate, argue, or agree with one another, but the blogger rarely responds;
  3. The blogger replies to every comment left on his or her blog post

… and she concludes that none of them are necessarily a predictor of success. There are widely-read blogs in all categories. Her position, and I agree, is that it’s your blog and you can do anything you want with it.

Mitch Joel responded with a post called the Disease Called Blogging and explained his own interesting position on blog commenting:

I don’t think that the blog comments are my responsibility. It’s not a dialogue between the blogger and the reader … I have the spotlight already. The blog comments are your space to shine. The blog comments are not about me and how I respond.

As I perused the posts and the many ensuing comments, there were two big points that I think have been overlooked.

Comments create community, community creates benefits.   The community here on {grow} has become an essential part of my business and personal life. Through the blog community, I have made great friends and business partners. I’ve found a group of people who are interested enough in me to maybe even hire me, buy one of my books, or ask me to speak at their event. I’ve hired people from the blog community, provided referrals, and provided help and counsel. The business benefits of blogging have been incredible.

Point number one: If you are writing a blog, why don’t you want to have a supportive community?  How can you create a community if you don’t engage? Engaging just makes good business sense.

It’s not just a comment. It’s a gift.  Nearly everyone I know would describe their lives somewhere between “busy” and “swamped.”  But somehow, each day dozens of people take some of their time — life’s most precious commodity — and devote it to me and this community through the form of a blog comment.  Wow. That is just so humbling. I never, ever take a blog comment for granted. What a gift.

Point number two: A comment is an amazing gift of somebody’s time and talent.  How can you simply ignore that? 

For these reasons, I try to respond to every comment, even if it is a simple “thank you.” Sometimes it’s at 1 in the morning, sometimes it is a day or two late, but I do try to respond.  It’s not easy, but it’s important that I show you gratitude and respect.

If you’re a blogger, do you recall the wonder and excitement of the first comment you ever received?  Did you respond? Of course you did. I still feel that excitement every day and I hope I never get to the point where I take my community for granted. if I do, you have my permission to give me a swift kick in the ass.

I can’t promise responses on every single post or every single comment (especially if it is simply people nodding in agreement), but I wanted to explain the reasons behind my commenting philosophy.

Where do you fall on the commenting continuum, and why?

Illustration: The Conversation by Renee Kahn

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  • Every comment should be responded to by the author. Like you said, a reader gave your platform her precious time. The least a blogger could do is acknowledge the comment and be gracious for it. We don’t get a ton of comments on our blog (yet) so there’s no excuse for failing to reply.

  • I agree 100%, Mark. And like you, I try to reply to every comment, even if it’s late – and sometimes, I get back to my own blog very late! That’s something I encourage all the guest bloggers to do as well (most of them watch the blog for the first comment, but I also shoot them a note when the first comment on their post comes through). When I comment over at someone else’s blog, I want to be acknowledged, and if that’s how I want to be treated, that’s how I should be prepared to treat others.

  • I remember the first comment on one of my blogs. I was ecstatic. While I’m still building and comments trickle in at a slow rate, it still humbles me when someone takes time out of their day to not only read my work, but also to comment and add value to it.
    I think engaging with your readers is essential. I don’t necessarily think you have to respond to EVERY comment, but you should be in there, being active in the community that you’ve created. I think that community is precious and valuable and that you should treat it as such!

  • I appreciate the enthusiasm. It does get a little taxing when the momentum picks up and the business is booming at the same time but it is the best part of my job!

  • That’s a good guest policy Shonali. I always run the post only after making sure they have the time that day to attend to the comments. Thanks!

  • We’re certainly aligned in that regard Brock. Good luck with your blogging efforts and community-building!

  • Hehe –

    Would you like to leave a gift on my site in exchange for the few I have offered you – You may donate your comment at
    http://blog.kwiqly.com/2012/06/tale-of-venture-capitalist-tragedy.html
    Sorry couldn’t resist !

  • Philip_Cummings

    I like your second point, Mark. I read/skim hundreds of bog post each day in addition to being a full-time teacher, a husband, and father of four. If I stop to respond with a comment either I the post has resounded in me, I have a really strong reaction to the post, or I have connected with the author. I don’t think the author owes me a thank-you response comment, but I appreciate your acknowledging that I have gifted you with my time, my engagement, and my comments. This is the primary reason when I get overwhelmed by my RSS feeds and all I have to do and start unsubscribing to the noise my {grow} subscription remains. (At this point yours is the only business/marketing blog I’m still reading.)

  • Robzie81

    I’d have to say that I’m in your camp. I’m honored any time someone finds my blog interesting enough to respond to. Of course, I’ve only been blogging four about 4 months, so perhaps I just haven’t become jaded yet. I don’t get but a fraction of the comments you and Mitch surely get. I appreciate your stance though. It’s inspiring!

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  • Just one more point, besides a “supportive” community I like to think that I some how add to the knowledge base of some of my blog followers who are new to SoMe. Not to split hairs, but I think an educated, interactive community is a goal most bloggers should be pursuing.

    While I love to try and respond to all comments, sometimes it is just not humanly possible. I think that most people understand, and appreciate the effort to at least try.
    I will be checking back regularly for your reply…LOL Hope you are well Sir.

  • I always find a middle way here Mark, especially on topics that are quit divisive and polarized.
    Question?
    Did you set out to have a community or was that an outcome that you didn’t see at first, and did you comment a lot at the beginning on other blogs to help build yours?

  • very good post and I personally put a huge value to the community that build around a blog post. I don’t think as a blogger you need (or are expected) to respond to every post. The community will organically grow from the conversations and steer it towards wherever it ends up. However, it is good for blogger to throw in a few comments when needed as it might turn a comment into a conversation which, in my opinion, is the ultimate goal!!

  • Misty Dietz

    Our blog is still in it’s early phase, so I’m able to respond to every comment. Ultimately, even when we grow (I hope!), I will make every effort to be an active part of the commentary. When I visit blogs where the poster never responds, I never return. It smacks of arrogance and disrespect. Your blog is one of the first ones I subscribed to. I have remained with you because of your content, your professionalism, and your respect for your audience. Keep up the great work! 😉

  • Any type of acknowledgement works for me. Especially if there is no debate or question posed. I often just want to acknowledge to the writer that I have been there and appreciate their efforts. If there is a ‘like’ button it may be as simple as a click. I don’t see a response back as a debt owed but rather credit earned.

    I certainly respond more rapidly and with increased frequency to the blogs that acknowledge my participation. I may not unfollow those that do not respond (if they continue to offer great content) but I do keep a list and check it twice when it comes time to pruning the feeds.

    I believe everyone appreciates acknowledgement, social media is a two way street. The ‘gift’ is yours to give and to receive.

    Thanks
    Anneliz

  • I agree 100%! I don’t comment on blogs where the author doesn’t interact or respond. In my opinion, it’s just kind of rude. Comments are the audience’s turn to make conversation with the author, and to be ignored is discouraging- especially when there are questions involved. I love the way you look at comments, and I look at them in a similar way. I LOVE comments and respond to every single one because I’m grateful for their readership.

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Haha thanks for making the commenters feel appreciated – that’s definitely amazing. How has your commenter community grown over the years? Is growing it simply a matter of consistency and persistence through engagement and good content?

  • We don’t get tons of outside comments on our blog, but nothing beats the rush of excitement when we do! I love responding to people and answering their questions. However, I know a few bloggers who rarely reply to commenters because they feel the same way as Mr. Joel — that the comments section is a place for others to shine. I think it really is up to the blogger to decide what how they’d like to proceed…but it always makes me smile when I get a reply. Even if it’s just a “thank you.” Somehow, it feels like someone’s listening, which is why I’ll continue to reply as often as I can on my own company blog. 🙂

    By the way, “commenting continuum” has a nice ring to it. But I’m a sucker for alliteration.

  • This guy above pointed this article out to me, and I think it’s now at a point where I can’t really add too much to the conversation, but I definitely agree that you treat a blog like you’d treat any other piece of social media real estate — you engage. You interact. If you want people to come back, appreciate the time they’re investing to share a little bit of themselves with you. Anything else seems like a bad play to me.

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    I don’t understand why a passionate blogger won’t interact regularly. If you’re writing about it and you’re passionate about it, don’t you want to keep talking about it more. It’s akin to telling a great story to a group of people, and when one person starts adding his thoughts on the story, you just walk away.

    Now I’m not saying a blogger has to reply to every one of the comments – especially if it’s simply an agreement; however, when letgitimate thoughts are being offered, it’s plain rude to ignore it. If the blogger wants conversations within the comments, then he/she should be the first one to partake. It’s their blog, their spotlight, and they should set an example.

  • This actually brings up an important point — reciprocity and expectations.

    When i started out, there were 5-6 of us who would support each other’s blogs and that eventually led to a community. Today, I get more than 10,000 readers a day. As much as i would like to, I simply can;t keep up with all those blogs. It sucks but the irony is, the more successful you are on social media, the less you are able to engage!

    Thanks James. And yes, I will leave a comment on your blog!

  • Mark – I am finding the disqus.com comment system in conjuntion with engag.io effective in exactly this way. However, I would not that I am more a giver than a receiver thus far 🙂 – Time is a great leveller !

  • I usually do not return to blogs that do not engage with readers. It is a priority to me to reply to every comment I am fortunate enough to get. I remember the feeling of being so excited that other people felt my posts were interesting enough to leave a comment. That is something I will always be grateful for.

    Not replying to any comments to me is the height of arrogance.

  • I have to agree with you that comments left are sort of a gift. I have only been blogging for a few months now but I am just so excited when people decide to leave comments on my blog posts and for that reason, I feel as if they deserve to see how thankful I am.

    But then again, some of the bigger bloggers may get more comments then they can handle…similar to how they get tweeted so often that they do not care to respond to most. I’m not a huge fan of that but I’m not in their position so I can’t exactly be a judge.

  • nice to see you old friend. Hope you are bearing up under the Memphis heat!

    I thank you for bringing the discussion to a very practical level. Most of have families, jobs and many other interests. These are not just avatars! These are amazing people who care enough to give you a gift.

    Thanks for keeping {grow} around!!!

  • Glad the post resonated with you. Thanks for caring enough to comment!

  • Ha! Glad to comply. I do not begrudge anybody who does not have time for comments. It does take time and patience. I’m not in a position to tell anybody what to do … I only know what works for me and my style. And you are right about the education aspect. I learn something from the community every day! Thanks Gerry. I’ve noticed you coming here consistently and I appreciate it!

  • Honestly, i started blogging as an experiment because to teach it, you have to do it. So my first goal was self-education. I was blessed with a community who connects with me but I cannot say that was the original goal. And yes, I had a group of 5-6 people and we all supported each other when we got started we still help each other to this day!

  • That is certainly a valid strategy Abdallah. Thanks for adding your wisdom today.

  • That is very kind of you to say and I appreciate the feedback (and feedback is different from a comment!). Much appreciated Misty!

  • “I certainly respond more rapidly and with increased frequency to the blogs that acknowledge my participation” — that’s kind of the business case for community-building right there, isn’t it? Really superb points Anneliz! I appreciate your consistent and thought-provoking participation!

  • I always find it a bit mysterious when the authors don;t comment. Did they see it? Did it make an impact? or are they just going about their merry way? I’m in your camp Courtney!

  • 1) I do my best to provide insanely great content, always. 2) I genuinely care about people in the community and have helped them in innumerable ways. 3) I am consistent. Blogging is not an afterthought.

  • Thanks for letting me know you’re out there Casey. Sometimes there is a lot of value in just knowing who is reading the darn thing! Without comments, I would never know!

  • @mitchjoel and I don’t always see eye to eye but I totally respect his approach and obviously it is working for him. His blog is outstanding and I recommend it highly. He also gets great comments.

  • You are a real model for building community (and quickly!) Nancy. I love the passion and heart you bring to every post and comment! Glad to see you back on here. I hope that is a sign that things are settling down for you!!

  • radiojaja

    Like most others I am blown away that anyone reads my blog, much less takes the time to comment!
    Plus I am aware of my sites limitations in terms of the comments function too, so thats makes them extra special!
    I reply to everyone, there arent that many of them, but have changed the way I reply.
    Initially my replies were basically gratitude! Now I try to really engage and give something back to the person that has given the time to me in the first place.
    Like lots of things in the blogging world, I would actually like to thank you for that approach Mark, as I have modelled from you in this and any number of other things!

  • I agree with your stance @PavelNovel:disqus infact I am puzzled when having commented several times on a little commented blog of a respected writer that they don’t even acknowledge contributions at all. It’s lead to me eventually abandon that blog/writer altogether. National newspapers are a breed apart, often their writers are the most aloof and dare not even scroll below to even read the comments. That I find peculiar and symptomatic of people who are are payroll writers and passion authors.

  • That’s a good analogy Anand. I can’t possibly keep up with the Twitter stream and yet if somebody specifically directs something to em, I try to answer. The blog however is my baby. I love this community and will do anything I can to help the people who engage here.

  • No problem, Mark — @PavelNovel:disqus and I were having this chat just last night with a fellow blogger, trying to sort out how one would generate comments on their blog when we’re in an age that’s so microblog-driven. Pavel presented this post as a take on how to move in the right direction 🙂

  • See? A comment like that makes it all worthwhile. You made my day Tony! Can’t wait to meet you soon in Wales!

  • Thank you Mark for your genuine interest in engaging with your {grow} community.

    I have found, and learned from you that sharing, and telling — rather than just telling — opens authentic discussions that produce significant business, and personal relationships.

    In my book, you are a consummate professional leader!

  • I’m seeing that. I’ve a few people that it is my intent to attent to their posts regularly and thanks for the comfirmation.

  • I think we’re still in the early days of figuring out how posted comments can advance the story.

    While comments on my own blog are sparse (to be kind), I find the aspect of handling comments is just as interesting as how to trigger comments.

    A handful of media properties such as Gawker are experimenting with the handling side, As what works and what doesn’t work shakes out over time, I suspect there will be some lessons that can be “borrowed” by bloggers.

  • Progress is slower than I would like. Some days it feels like “one step forward and two steps back” I know it will be this way for a while, so the big challenge is to not get too discouraged

  • Mark,

    With a headline like that how can I not comment? I believe
    that comments are one of your secrets to success. And I have the numbers to
    prove it.

    I don’t know if you’ve always had Disqus as a platform on
    the {grow} blog but I discovered some amazingly impressive stats on my Disqus dashboard about Mark Schaefer:

    Comments on the blog:

    4,819

    Comments by you (I’m assuming as both comments on other
    blogs and in response to comments on yours):

    3,709

    Is this driven by a strategy or your super-human power to connect
    with people?

    I think it’s because you wear a cape when you blog.

  • It’s a priority for me to engage and respond to *cogent* comments that add something of value to the post. It’s frustrating to me (as it is for any blogger) when the comments don’t move beyond platitudes, particularly when it’s a post that should really foster some meaty discussion.

    That said, I’m always pleasantly surprised when older posts occasionally attract comments well after their original publication date.

  • Glad to hear you have a positive mindset. Hope to see you again when classes resume in the fall.

  • That would probably be a great post in its own right. I’ll have to noodle on that. Not sure I have covered that before.

  • Very interesting take. had not thought of the newspaper angle.

  • MaryLynne Christman

    I love comments. You are correct in saying they are gifts. Reading book number two – Return on Influence.

  • It’s quite the challenge these days, since (as all Internet things usually do) the way we use the Internet continues to shift, catering to shortened attention spans and schedules. It’s a constant battle to create things that elicit a response when people feel that they’ve “seen everything” and that there’s no new opinions to be had on what’s going on in the world around them. If you’re succinct enough to reply to someone’s Twitter account, the question becomes “WHY should I reply to your blog when I can contact you in other ways?”

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Goog point @doomzTO:disqus. I think one of the negative outcomes of the attention driven economy is that people think of only consuming information. The short-attention spans coupled with never-ending streams of information prevents people from even ASKING the question WHY. Because if you take the time out to think of a response and contribute your own unique point and perspective, then you might miss something and what a tragedy that would be. I see it as mindless reading. I truly believe that you get a lot more out of an article if you’re able to connect the new ideas and figure out what they truly mean to you and how they relate to your own experience. It’s my belief that critical thinking is a very desirable trait for happiness and success. We must be able to express our ideas in addition to absorbing them.

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Oh wow, so you started out with a community that small. If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been seriously blogging?

  • radiojaja

    And Wales can’t wait to meet you! 🙂

  • radiojaja

    And me too of course… Oh! you know what I mean!

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Thanks man. I guess I’m just making excuses for myself 🙁 But no more!!

  • I would love to see you again. Let me know and we can work something out.

  • There is a fourth camp of bloggers: those who do not allow commenting. And I don’t refer to the Seth Godins of the world who have written many books and don’t want to manage comments, but the moms and pops who use blogging as online diaries but they know people read them but choose to not allow anyone to comment.

    But to answer your question, I bounce every time someone adds a comment. I sometimes reply, and sometimes don’t reply.

  • It seems to me that the point is not the comments but the motivation for blogging and, hence, the function of the blog for its author. Research suggests that people may blog primarily for 1 of 3 reasons (i.e., 1 will be dominant, though the others may be present, too): sharing, creativity and connecting. If the author’s goal is to feel connected, the blog’s function will be mostly to interact and create relationships. In this case, the author will need to (indeed, ‘want to’) engage actively with readers who leave comments on their website. For the other reasons, the functions performed by the blogs will differ and, hence, the role of comments (and approach to replying).

    It is a bit like any other product really – cars that take you from A to B, vs cars that make you feel safe or cars that signal you are successful. That’s my humble opinion. Anyway, more about this research here: http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2962/2580

  • If you want to generate comments all you need to do is blog about blogging and comment about commenting.

    That is not as tongue in cheek as it sounds either.

    I wrote two posts in May about the value of comments and whether you can build community without them and couldn’t have been happier with the results.

    That is not because of the number of comments they received but because of the conversation they created within the blog and via email. Those two posts opened up a dialogue that hadn’t previously existed and lead to learning some very interesting new things.

    If you look at the real world we develop friendships/relationships by talking with other people. The same is true online, except we use comments to make it happen.

  • Yes, I know what you mean. I speak fluent Tony. : )

  • Sharing versus telling was a big learning for me over the years. Stories work better than lectures : )

  • I saw a presentation by Gawker at SXSW and it was really fascinating, especially as to how it applies to mega sites that get tons of irate and even off-color comments. Luckily I have not faced that problem yet!! Thanks Lou!

  • I am actually closing in on 25,000 comments according to the Disqus dashboard that I see. I’m not sure what those numbers in your comment would represent. Maybe that is Disqus only, which I have had for about 9 months or so. There is nothing super-human about me. I just write things fast. nimble fingers. Hardly a super power. I do not want to be known as “Finger Man.” : )

  • I am so darn lucky on this blog (as i am sure you have noticed) that people are VERY givign and intelligent on this blog. In fact, the biggest problem I have is people who don;t comment because they say they are intimidated by the comments, which I think is a shame. Everyone is welcome here. Thanks so much for weighing in today Jason!

  • Awesome. Do let me know what you think of it!

  • That’s interesting Ari. I had no idea there are so many people who don;t allow comments. I’m not in those circles so i appreciate the perspective!

  • First, any blog comment that contains the words “research suggests” is gonig to win my heart!

    Two years ago I pushed myself to create my first video blog (http://www.businessesgrow.com/2010/07/30/why-i-blog-nearly-live-and-in-person/) and here is what it said: “I blog to connect.” I am a relatively shy person and this has been an amazing way to make friends (like YOU Ana!) on my terms. In fact, most of my best friends these days have come through the blog. The business case for blog comments is “you just never know!” Thanks for sharing the research!

  • You are really a wise man Jack. I get excited every time i see your avatar pop up in the comment stream because i know i am going to learn something. Thanks for adding your voice of experience here. I agree 100%!

  • I enjoyed your post Mark! I find comments valuable because it helps engage with my readership and you can (sometimes) tell *how* your message was received. Comments often provide a better metric than a simple count of site visits.

    I wrote a post last week on 10 Ways to Increase Blog Comments that I’d love to get your feedback on if you have the time! Here’s a link: http://wp.me/p1LHj0-bX

  • I figured that number was way low but what really impressed me was the fact that you comment at almost a one-to-one ratio to those commenting if both numbers are from a similar time frame. I think that’s what so many of us that enjoy the {grow} blog find very special about this community you’ve built.

    Your articles are either funny, informative, entertaining or thought provoking (sometimes all at once). But that’s just the start. The comments section is where the discussion begins and because you return to the topic to engage it’s adds more to the experience.

    Thanks for that!

  • I would guess my ratio is fairly close to 1:1. I would bet I have about 45% of the comments. Thanks for your friendship and support Billy!

  • I would say that everyone starts with a community of ZERO : ) I have been blogging for a little over three years. I started to zero in on my niche and my voice after nine months and the community started a steady growth after about the first year. Weekly page views + subscribers has grown about 600% in the past 12 months.

  • This is a good post, but here is how you can make it a GREAT post – write a post that ONLY you can write. Honestly, anybody can write a list like this (and they have). But tell about YOUR journey, your pitfalls and victories. Tell stories that teach and explain instead of just writing lists. Adding your heart to the post is the source of originality and originality is the key to success in this very crowded social web! Thanks for sharing Arthur!

  • Pavel Konoplenko

    Thanks for the answer Mark. I guess consistency and persistence truly key. I’m using your blog as a model to follow for when I start!

  • It’s great to see 75 comments on here. I serve as editor for our agency’s blog and try to encourage conversation on each post. I often find it frustrating to see a blog get hundreds of tweets but not a single comment, especially when it’s the type of post focused on actually having an expanded discussion about a particular topic.

  • Thank you. I am truly humbled.

  • Right comments are important, it is the only place a lot of people feel like they are somewhat important to the world or company.

  • It can be really tough getting comments on a company blog so I admire your efforts! i think the more human and honest we can make the posts, the more likely people will react and engage. Thanks for commenting Nick!

  • Wow. That is a very powerful statement. You have my wheels turning! Thanks for that interesting perspective!

  • Absolutely!

    And I think that is a testament to your personality and welcoming spirit, Mark – and I’m happy to be a part of the community here, and I’d be thrilled to contribute my writing as well.

  • Thanks for the advice Mark! Greatly appreciate you sharing your insight!

  • I find that readers want to know that you are predictable. That you are going to keep giving them content that makes them think and predictable in that they know there is more coming next… Monday… next week… next year. Long as they know it will come.

    I agree with @TheJackB:disqus people are silly for thinking they can circumvent the natural way we build relationships online. It takes time. You have to prove you’re trustable.

  • That is an amazing comment Justin. it makes so much sense but I had never really thought about commenting as a way to be predictable and reliable. Quite interesting, Thanks!!

  • Well Mark, looks like you’ve gotten QUITE a few comments…way to go. I believe STRONGLY in commenting a LOT (I probably make 10-20 comments per day, every day) and responding to just about every comment made on my writing. If it’s just an “attaboy” I may skip it or when the back and forth has gone on enough, I’ll let “them” have the last word, but I believe in respecting my readers and especially those who take the time to post a comment.

    Through commenting I’ve truly MADE tons of relationships. It’s probably my #1 Social Media strategy!

  • You and I totally agree on this topic. When I wrote the blog post, I did so because I had several questions with people I really respect who disagree with this approach. And then I read an HBR article by a real (gasp!) journalist who pretty much said the same thing – the article was for him to have his say; the comments were for everyone else and far be it for him to engage in those conversations or try to change someone’s mind.

    That’s why I came to the final conclusion: It really depends on what you’re trying to do. If you’re building community for the reasons you outlined, then yes, freaking respond to people. We all like to know the person appreciates that we stopped by.

  • Packaging Connections

    It’s really interesting Paul Gailey as i totally agree on this topic.

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  • That’s awesome Bruce. My commenting on other blogs has been way down when the book projects started. Something had to give! I’m glad I’m in your rotation!!

  • I usually read HBR but missed that article. Certainly a very vital and lively topic, especially as it relates to journalism and forums that may tend to get controversial and even inappropriate comments. On one story over the weekend, the local paper got so many off color comments that it turned the commenting system off. Thanks so much for getting the ball rolling on this discussion Gini!

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  • MikeJonesg

    We don’t get tons of outside comments on our blog, but nothing beats the
    rush of excitement when we do! I love responding to people and
    answering their questions. However, I know a few bloggers who rarely
    reply to commenter because they feel the same way as Mr. Joel — that
    the comments section is a place for others to shine. I think it really
    is up to the blogger to decide what how they’d like to proceed…but it
    always makes me smile when I get a reply. Even if it’s just a “thank
    you.” Somehow, it feels like someone’s listening, which is why I’ll
    continue to reply as often as I can on my own company blog. 🙂

  • The age old saying never talk about religion or politics is funny. Why ? The reason being it does not just apply to those areas. Human beings are curious and contentious. Give them something to talk about and they will.

    I agree with all the points made in this post.
    Why would you not want comments..It is a form of social proof and validation. When bloggers comment back it forms a bond and extends the relationship further. This is good business. How far that relationship is extended depends on the motivation and goals of both blogger and visitor. .
    A critical point for me is when it comes to journalists you find them complaining mainly because a lot of the subjects they write about are contentious or exposes this leads to a situation when they attract negative comments. Imagine looking at a 1000 negative comments no matter how strong you are this will have an effect and over time will taint your view of the value of comments. I could write a book on all the reasons commenting is extremely valuable but the most important is definitely the community building aspect.
    I have seen bloggers talk about their community and their blog. The truth is it is not your blog it is not your community. You may pay for the blog, design and other associated costs but what you get back is infinitely more valuable. The blog is more a new economy civil institution. The minute you start to put out an opinion or open yourself up to public scrutiny you are public property. You can kid yourself that you control the conversation and to extent you do. But the people really in control are the people who comment and validate your perspective.
    The benefit is you get more from comments than the cost of maintaining ” your blog ” the hidden benefits are massive and any intelligent blogger/entrepreneur who looks at in this way cannot deny the case I am making in this comment.
    It is a benefit system that is fundamentally democratic and enterprising. So next time you start thinking from a my perspective switch to a we perspective and watch how it opens out your thinking and takes it to a new level of benefit for you as a blogger and the reader.
    All opinions are my own, sometimes they sound patronizing but the intention is fundamentally good and coming from a perspective of trying to add value to the democratic process.
    They are trademarked and copyrighted. . 🙂

    Peace.

  • I’m listening!! : ) Thanks Mike!

  • This is really an incredible comment that touches a lot of important bases Kenny! Thank you so much!

  • Thanks Mark. You are most welcome Sir. Always happy to contribute in any way I can. I enjoy this blog and you are a truly community focused blogger who has consistently shown you value the role of community in your progress as a person and entrepreneur. That shines through in everything you write.

  • Because I do not receive the overwhelming number of comments that someone like you do, I still respond to each comment. Actually, I know you get back to just about every comment I’ve ever written…so thanks, Mark.

    I do try to leave a comment that may inspire additional dialogue. Some folks say I do the same with my Twitter replies. Just trying to keep that communication going and generate a little insight for all of the readers!

  • I like to respond if it seems appropriate. I share a similar view: the commenter is taking time out of a busy schedule to engage, and I should respond accordingly. I also think engagement is the most crucial aspect of social media and blogging. How else are we going to build relationships? I talk about building QUALITY relationships through these avenues here: http://www.bigbadbulldog.com/blog/bid/156128/Social-Media-Fans-and-Followers-the-Quantity-vs-Quality-Quandry

    Thanks for this post. It’s an important discussion to be having right now!

  • Very humbling. Thank you!

  • In case you missed it, @jenkaneco Had a great guest post on my blog last week about opening these social conversations.
    http://www.businessesgrow.com/2012/06/17/the-art-of-opening-social-conversations/
    I still have a lot to learn!!

  • Well said. That indeed is the opportunity.

  • I did read (and share) – liked the examples given (like telling the client “hey, thanks” and hanging up).

  • I moderate to avoid junk comments and reply to everyone. When i comment, i only comment on posts i have written about or understand.
    Leaving comments like, great post or other short sucking up isn’t something i do or approve.
    I also remove the link if they have no domain authority or Page Rank.
    And i leave a link to a better solution if i know one or have written one myself.
    Regardless of the fact comments are no follow by default, you’ll still get a link which you can check in Google Webmaster Tools.
    I also use the best comment plugin rather than the default as it offers many benefits.

  • Some very relevant pointers. Thanks for weighing-in!

  • Going to leave a comment on this blog as it seems counterintuitive not to.. I think commenting on blogs is being forgotten, especially because most people use a reader or an app to aggregate their blog posts. I think people forget to comment and then wonder why their blog isn’t doing so well.. if you don’t attempt to establish a community then you’re just shouting into a vacuum! It might be totally unachieveable, but it would be really really cool if in the future there were RSS apps that allowed you to comment back directly. But then I guess there would be a decline in web traffic and it would sort of defeat the point entirely.. Anyway just thinking out loud! I just started reading this blog and I’m really enjoying it so far!
    – Susie

  • Thanks for reading the blog and jumping into the comments! I love that because I don’t really know you exist until you show up! Welcome.

  • Good article. What brings you more traffic? Comments or guests posts?

  • Succeeding in social media community engagement is about participation. Whether it’s on Gini’s blog or on Facebook, at least 50 people are going to respond to pretty much anything she says. She spent years developing that – she really enjoys participating in social media.
    I have quite a few friends that chat in Twitter groups with 4-5 people constantly mentioned. They are on there talking to each other every day. Others are on Facebook commenting on everyone else’s posts. Getting involved yourself is what nurtures that type of engagement. Some of it is personality, but a lot of it is just participation.
    Now, there are certainly other ways to succeed; even in the realm of social media. I spend much more time doing content marketing – crafting content so it is shareable & consumable – than I have building a community. It’s done wonders for traffic, but it leaves other areas in need of attention. I agree with Mitch that the comments are the place for others to be heard, but they want to know you hear them. They come to your blog to see you.
    Gini found her success by building a community – much in the same way BusinessGrow has become. People come back each day to get a dose of content and community. You don’t need to treat commenters like your community to have success with a website, but if you want a similar type of success you absolutely need to participate.

  • A lot of online journalists have trained themselves to actually avoid looking at comments. They don’t pay you to do it, and for a good reason why not to go look at a Chris Chase article on Yahoo! sports lol. As for Business blogs and websites where the writer has a vested interest in the growth of the community (Yahoo! would have a much different community if the writers participated more), why would you not want to have the type of following that Spin Sucks has? I don’t see any way it’s a good idea to avoid comments, unless you are exclusively discussing your posts on some other channel.
    I mean, especially in business. Your readers are likely your customers. If you think about it, how much different are the discussions on Spin Sucks and the discussions on your Facebook posts? Why would someone invest in engaging on social media channels and avoid engaging in blog comments?

  • I agree with you, Adam. When i wrote my blog post about this, I explored the different blogging camps to better understand people’s motivations. We don’t all blog for business so it’s OK, in some instances, not to engage with the commenters.

  • angel

    I agree to adam too. Please teach.. me more about blogging.
    Blogging is one of my hardest thing to do.

  • I agree that this is how it is and how it has been done online…

    “Gini identified three blog comment “camps” …
    1. No one comments.
    2. The blogger leaves the comments open for everyone to debate, argue, or agree with one another, but the blogger rarely responds;
    3. The blogger replies to every comment left on his or her blog post”

    But I don’t agree with your analysis and I think there should be another item in that list…

    4. The blogger makes occassional comments enough to keep conversations going, but not so much that they reply to every post.

    I agree that the Blogger has the spotlight already, but I think it’s OK for them to shine the spotlight on particularly insightful posts as they arise. Leave the audience hungry… but not starving.

  • Of course I’m trying to respond to any comment! After all I pour my heart into (almost) every post and I just want to hug anybody that I inspired enough to comment

  • I just like the valuable information you provide for your articles. I’ll bookmark your blog and check once more right here regularly. I am reasonably sure I will be told plenty of new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the following!

  • john

    different topic but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Superb choice of colors! Harga Mobil Toyota Agya

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  • I respond to every comment I receive. Of course, I don’t get so many that it’s a huge burden. It seems polite to do so. Plus, I want to continue the discussion. I agree that I already have the spotlight, but I want to have the conversation and learn from my readers too. I apply this same approach to social media, which is where I think a lot of the discussion occurs now.

  • I see your point on the fourth category. It really may be impossible for some bloggers to respond to every comment they receive. However, I think they should at least respond to some, make key points or ask further questions, and keep the conversation going.

  • As a journalist, I disagree with the take on that HBR article. The article isn’t for him to have his say, it’s for him to report the news. The comments are a chance for journalists to interact with readers to provide context in ways we’ve never been able to before. I find his thinking (just based on your description above) antiquated and arrogant. Could you share the article with me?

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