Monetizing blog comments: Why your blog is economic gold

monetizing blog comments


By Mark Schaefer

“CommentGate” continued this week as Blogging Titan Chris Brogan announced he is turning off the comments on his blog. This follows in the footsteps of the recent Copyblogger comment announcement.

Chris cited two reasons why he is doing this and despite his unquestioned experience and stature in the business, his logic doesn’t make sense to me.

Before I get into that, I want to emphasize that there are no “rules” in this space. What is good business for Chris may or not make sense to you. As long as Chris is happy, who gives a damn?

I also want to say that Chris has been a pioneer in almost every aspect of blogging. Even though I sometimes disagree with him, every blogger is swimming in his wake and I think he is under-appreciated for that. So I applaud him for taking risks … even this one. Thank you.

Now on to the fun part. This is why I think his logic is flawed. The crux of his explanation:

Comments have scattered to the winds. If you want to know what people are saying about your posts, you have to scan Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and everywhere else a conversation can be had. People complain to me all the time that folks will chat up the link in Facebook but leave no comments on the blog, as if the comments on the blog are the gold. (They’re not. Nice to have, but not revenue-affecting. You’ll live.) I just told people: engage where the people engage. Fair enough.

Commenters represent reliable reach

I had a very interesting exchange recently with Jay Baer on his post articulating the idea that certain communication platforms have “reliable reach.” Twitter and Facebook do not have reliable audience reach because people may come by for a content snack but may not form active community.

Blog and email subscribers do have reliable reach because they are more likely to be an engaged audience you can eventually monetize.

This is another way to express a sentiment I have long-held — real social media power comes from the blog community.

By turning off comments, you are turning off the dialogue. Why would you WANT to scatter your comments to the wind? Comments may appear in other places, but that is not YOUR community of reliable reach.

Dear Chris Brogan blog reader:

Come to comment on my blog. I will continue to love on you because chances are it will develop into something big some day. Let’s do some business together.


Your new favorite blogger

How to make money through blog comments

Here is my theory on creating business benefits through social media marketing.

Twitter and Facebook open the door. These platforms are great for building awareness, but these folks are “weak links” who probably won’t buy things from you.

You need to get to know people, have them actually create some emotional tie with you that converts to a strong and lasting connection.

Converting people from a weak connection to a strong connection is the first step toward building loyalty. And loyalty trumps everything. These are the people you can COUNT ON. These are people who buy your books and hire you and probably always will.

Your blog comment section is a strong link machine. I could name 100 people I first came to know through blog comments — and still connect with me there — who have become valued collaborators and customers.

For me and many other bloggers, the blog community is an incredibly effective economic engine.

You are not just turning off comments. You are turning off your important commenters.

Comments for the record

Brogan’s other point is that these conversations are going on in other places any way. Why have the hassle of a comment section?

This is a myth. Let me use an example to illustrate.

In January, I wrote the Content Shock post which has received more than 700 comments. This was a very important discussion. Yes, there were conversations on Facebook, on Twitter, other blogs, and even at conferences. But if you wanted to find those conversations NOW, where would you go? Would you scan through the 500 blog posts written on the subject … or simply read the comments on the blog?

The whisps of social media conversations about this topic are long-gone like feathers in a hurricane. You couldn’t even find them by digging deep on a search engine.

The only conversation that remains, and will always remain, is on the blog. THAT is the conversation. That is the record of the community and the sentiment and the people who connected on the subject at that point of time.

If you are writing something you care about, if you care about community beyond just lip service, why wouldn’t you want to give people the opportunity to contribute to the record of the dialogue in one place?

Tipping toward Elvis

In a recent {grow} community newsletter, I wondered … if Elvis blogged, would he have an open comment section? Probably not. There is just too much stuff, too many kooks to keep up with.

Somewhere between me and Elvis on the blogging continuum is Chris Brogan. My own theory is that Chris has finally tipped toward Elvis. It has become too much of a hassle, there are too many spam kooks to keep up with. Speaking from experience, comments (and demanding commenters) can wear you out.

I started this post by saying there are no rules — so you have to do what is right for you. But I did want to provide an alternate perspective because I know that for many bloggers, there certainly is an opportunity for monetizing through blog comments.

Unless you’re tipping toward Elvis too, your blog commenters may be your most important reliable reach and economic engine.

I’m keeping the lights on in the comment section. Thoughts?

Mark Schaefer is the chief blogger for this site, executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions, and the author of several best-selling digital marketing books. He is an acclaimed keynote speaker, college educator, and business consultant.  The Marketing Companion podcast is among the top business podcasts in the world.  Contact Mark to have him speak to your company event or conference soon.

Illustration of pre-Columbian blog commenters courtesy of Flickr CC and Kenneth Lu.

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  • I love comments and I do read them if they are shorter and to the point. I don’t like when a comment is competing with the blog. I rather have a link to read more. Not sure if you allow links.

    Here is one trick that I often use to blog. Anything I comment (assuming it is more than just “good post'”), I turn it into a blog, referencing the blog that gave me the idea and include other comments from other readers. It is just amazing how many blog ideas you can generate from doing that. I usually try to comment on at least five blogs a day.

  • I think I’ve mentioned before that I turned off the comment section on my site a while ago, mostly due to spam and not getting many comments on the blog itself.
    I think it boils down to the type of blog that you run, what you write about and why.

    If it’s a blog, as your is, that’s all about people, connecting and engaging then comments are essential and a huge part of the sites appeal.

    A large part of my site is tutorial based and so not intentionally asking for comments, so I wasn’t overly worried about not getting any. This made the decision to remove the functionality easier.

    Comments can forge new relationships and opportunities, as with our meet up not long ago! 🙂 This is a strong argument for comments done right!

  • Jay, I love that idea. Coming up with blog topics is the main struggle that my students and clients have. I recently wrote a blog called 15 Easy Ways To Come Up With Powerful Blog Topics. I’m going to add your idea to the list (and give you credit of course!). Thanks so much!

  • MaureenMonte

    I wonder if some of it isn’t just pure weariness (on people not leaving comments). There are so many assaults, so many “must reads!”, and “selected for you!” that I do want to crawl under my desk like instructed in the old fashioned drills we did in elementary school. I like blog comments – both in my own and in others. Not only can one get ideas, but one gets insight into humanity, and even engagement. I saw a blog (corporate) from a very high level exec. 6,500 employees had visited (believe it or not, a low number considering that there are tens of thousands of employees in that org, and all had been asked (not invited) to read the blog.) Guess how many comments? Nine. Two were on technical things about the blog (which also had a video). One comment resembled Haiku blended with ADD. Six “useful” or “thoughtful” comments. Less than 1%. 29 likes. If that doesn’t send an employee engagement warning shot across the bow of the leadership, I don’t know what would. In short, thank you for keeping your comments section open. 🙂

  • Todd Lyden

    Mark, consider me lazy today… How do you have direct roi on blog comments? How do you see direct monetization. You have well illustrated indirect roi and the case is strong, but considering the drop off on brogan and others for comments… It does come off as more of An Elvis move than a money issue…

  • I love the comment activity on your site, Mark. But isn’t your blog rather unusual? I still get very few comments on my blog, but even without an active community, the blog has a huge positive impact on our revenue. (Nearly 100% of our business is generated via content and social).

    I spend enough time managing the comment spam that I’m considering turning off comments.

  • Steve Woodruff

    Chris Penn also had an excellent counter-perspective to consider:

  • I do allow links if they are relevant and not spammy.

    I like your idea about turning comments into blog posts. I do the same thing! Thanks for adding the tip Jay.

  • You know i have written about that tipic quite a bit but it is still a hot topic isn’t it? Maybe this would be a great guest post for {grow} Betsy? Would love to feature your work.

  • Great comment Barry because it illustrates another view.

    I will say however, that you and I probably would have never connected without blog comments! It was a real pleasure meeting you and turning a weak link into a strong one. From there, you never know where it will lead!

  • Maybe you are closer to Elvis on the blogging continuum than you think, I am sure! 🙂

    I don’t comment often, but I’d rather invest my time in leaving my comment directly on the blog’s comment section than on the links posted on Facebook.

    I feel like comments on Facebook or other platforms are more volatile and time sensitive, as they are readily available on the news feed for a limited amount of time but are difficult to be retrieved later. As you wrote: “The only conversation that remains, and will always remain, is on the blog. THAT is the conversation.”

    I think also that the increased use of mobile devices can affect engagement on the comment section: it is faster and easier to comment on social networks, than commenting on the blog (as a matter of fact I am using my laptop right now).
    Facebook, Google +, etc. are the Fast food of social, blogs are the Slow Food: quality and commitment to protect the community.


  • That doesn’t really surprise me. What employee is going to question or challenge a senior exec in writing on a company publication? Just isn’t done. The fact that 6,500 people read it is a darn good start though.

    Even in a public forum blog comments are rare. Among other bloggers, the rule of thumb is that about 2 percent of your readers comment and that pretty much holds true for me. Some people are afraid of commenting or simply prefer to read.

    There are certainly potential economic benefits for commenters, too. How does a blogger even know you are out there unless you show up?

    Thanks for the observation and discussion Maureen!

  • What is wrong with indirect monetization? Money is money. : )

    Direct monetization would imply that somehow I sell blog comments or people would pay to comment. I don;t see that happening.

    Indirect monetization is how the world works today as illustrated pointedly in the book “Free” by Chris Anderson. You can really only think in those terms today with an Internet model. Make sense?

  • Yes, my blog is unusual. According to Disqus, {grow} is in the top 1 percent of all blogs when it comes to numbers of comments.

    However, Jason Falls made a keen point when I interviewed him for the Return On Influence book. He said, “you know, I really don’t need 10,000 blog readers. I only need six if they are the right six readers who can help grow my business.”

    To some extent it can be a numbers game, but can also be a function of being in the right niche, creating relevant content and nurturing an audience who can create business benefits with you.

    Does that help, Candyce?

  • Great to hear from you Linda and thank you for this very insightful comment.

    I think the point abotu mobile is interesting. You would think that would ENABLE conversations and comments but I think it has the opposite affect. People have told me it is too much of a hassle leaving a comment on a smartphone. I think small-screen mobile devices work against blogs and commenting.

  • Todd Lyden

    Mark, I’m with you on the indirect roi on blog comments… it is not the same for everyone as @CandyceEdelen:disqus illustrates but it can be there… it seems to me that the Elvis bloggers (ie the ones that largely benefit from just being the first ones) are pulling the plug on the comments a> because they can. b> because there is little roi after all the complaints they make c> commentators derive more benefit than bloggers (ie self-promoting and making connections that do no benefit the blogger)

  • Mark, I tend to agree with Jason. As you know, our audience is very niche. The more focused my blog posts, the better they perform for the results I care about – awareness in our niche, cultivating relationships, and impacting both new and recurring client relationships.

  • Honored!

  • “Duck and Cover” Maureen, sounds like a good blog title 🙂 Code for children of the Cold War era too.

  • Gordon Diver

    I haven’t done the research, but do wonder what the cost of dealing with “comments and spam” would be as compared to having to invest time or money in sentiment platforms to find the comments that are shared about your work on all those other platforms. And then the time required to respond, if you deem it necessary to do so. I presume they would be compatible.

    I see the comment section as a potentially lively addition to the post/chat, much like attending a course in person, where the sharing of ideas and debate add to the understanding of the topic. I believe I recall one of your posts about your teaching experience noting that you learned as much from the students and their conversations, as you gave them, insights that may be missed without the comment section. Thanks for the post.

  • Perhaps I should be careful what I wish for but comments are NOT (yet?) an issue on my blog, a result of a carefully engineered combination of half-baked SEO practices, marginal quality content and strategy deprivation, all of course part of my on-going social media marketing study 🙂 If Chris Brogan is the “Elvis”, let me lay claim to the category of “Rodney Dangerfield”.
    Thanks Mr. Schaefer!

  • One of the things I observe on the web is that the blogosphere begins to adopt “mantras” that become the “rules.” An example would be “it’s all about the conversation” which was a prevalent 2008 kind of mantra people accepted without thinking.

    I see some of that happening on this issue too. Who says commenters derive more benefits than the bloggers? Copyblogger? Does that make it true?

    And what if they do derive benefits? What’s wrong with that? Aren’t we supposed to be heloing people and “giving?”

    Who says there is little ROI to comments? What about the ROI of the COMMENTERS? These are real people who care enough to give their precious time to our blog through a comment. What kind of a message does that send that we no longer care? We no longer will go to the trouble to manage spam to allow our friends to be part of a community? In another time that would be called “arrogant” or “rude.”

    Don’t drink the Mantra Kool-Aid. Everyone has the power to create their own web experience, to build a community, to create relationships that matter personally and professionally. Don’t be guided by what the gurus are doing. My wish is for people to figure it out for their own situation and their unique opportunities.

  • Glad to hear that is working for you.

  • Todd Lyden

    Dude, I’m with you!
    You sound a little pent up about this…

  • The learning aspect is very true Gordon. There is a lot more to comments than ROI. I would say at least 25% of my blog post ideas come fom comments or my answers to comments. I would say at least once a month I ask somebody to turn a comment into guest post (see my response to Betsy below).

    The ROI is just the tip of the comment value iceberg.

    Regarding the cost of seeking sentiment elsewhere versus comments, I don’t think it is an either or. The comments throughout the web will just happen so you can’t stop keeping on top of that as a strategy.

  • Sounds like a niche! : )

  • Gordon Diver

    Fair point on sentiment. Thanks for the reply

  • Oh Wow! Although I love all of this discussion about Comment ROI, I’d like to look at this for a different perspective; community. What is social media really? IMO it’s a domain where people share thinking. No comments = no sharing, no sharing = no social media. The comments are not necessarily only for the author but also for the benefit of the rest of the community.

  • MaureenMonte

    That’s funny! If nothing else, it can be a survival strategy in certain work environments! Send me a link to your blog when you write it! 🙂

  • MaureenMonte

    Your positivity is showing. 🙂 Love that you have a different perspective on it. Didn’t know the 2% rule… thank you.

  • Now just look around at what Chris is missing out on! Poor chap, he needs to do some slumming… 🙂

  • uh, I thought you were going to write it? 🙂
    Thanks Maureen!

  • I think that is interesting Steve, and yet as many people are finding out, businesses can’t do community for the sake of community. I know that sounds weird but there has to an economic return somewhere, somehow. I am guessing that is the real driver behind the decisions — the economics don’t pan out any more.

  • Yes, I guess I am a little pent up and frustrated : )

    We are in such a weird business where the gurus set the tone and the gurus often have their own agendas. I just want people to think for themselves. I see so much lemming-like behavior.

  • Todd Lyden

    Well at the end of the day, you are correct- everyone will do what is best for them, period.
    As a guru, you set a good standard.

  • MaureenMonte

    I’ll put it in the comments of your rodney dangerfield blog. 🙂 Duck and Cover is in my brain so it will come out somehow – excited about that!

  • Love reading the comments on THIS post!

    I personally think it’s a mistake to turn commenting off. You are essentially telling the readers that you don’t care about their opinion or what they got from the article. If people don’t feel like they are appreciated, then they won’t come back. I thought the whole point of blogs and social media was to foster conversation and relationships? No comments, no conversation. Just my two cents 🙂

  • Tom Leonard

    Commenting on commenting. Gotta love this!

  • Betsy,

    I did blog about this while back. Here is the link:

    It will walk your students on how I did it.


  • It’s meta meta : )

  • Thanks for adding your perspective Mandy.

  • Hardly.

  • Demi-guru : )

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  • Jeffrey Slater

    Mark, I think that we have to consider blogs like any segmentation exercise. Some blogs are B2B and some are B2C. They have different needs, requirements and objectives. There isn’t a one-size fits all. Of course there is no universal answer to have comments or not on a site.

    Like you, I do believe that comments help create community and keeping them on your own blog site allows you to keep them together as an enduring record.

    Most blogs are created to build a community and to build relationships. Sometimes at a deep level – sometimes more shallow.

    I think of it like a swimming pool – the deep end with a lot of rich engagement, and a shallow end that is thin and just touches on connections.

    Lately, I have been getting more emails from readers of my blog than comments. Not sure why – but its an interesting trend of taking the conversation off line. Perhaps its because the writers are looking for advise and insights. And I always think of something Seth Godin talked about in just trying to get 100 people who deeply care and would miss you if you stopped.

    My blog tries to educate, engage and build a community of followers interested in my marketing perspective. I can’t imagine turning off comments even though I get my fair share of spam.

    Thanks for providing a platform on these interesting topics.


  • Mark, I liked your Post. Excellent & very practical. KS

  • LOL! IMO, that’s core to the problem. You know i’m a huge believer that ROI drives everything but it must be determined correctly. Not clearly determining and understanding the ROI of user feedback is really the fundamental issue. You sir (through Grow), are living proof of the ROI from nurturing a community through effective comment (think community) management.

    Brogan and others like him built thier businesses through the extended influence of their communities. Global empires are built on the power of community (followers) spreading the ‘word’ but when the Emperors believed they no longer needed to pay attention to their community, their empires ultimately unraveled and imploded.

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  • Kitty Kilian

    Not sure if I understand you correctly, @Steve_Dodd:disqus: do you mean that a lively blog comment section (with some decent thinking) equals a lively blog community? And that without a community the blog will fail?

    Hm… Although I also love lively blog communities and would never shut my comments down, I think there are probably lots of blogs with a strong influence but few comments. Seth Godin of course comes to mind first – and don’t go ‘Duh’ straightaway, beause he IS the living proof that big names (or brands, if you prefer) can do without overt communities. As long as they’re big enough. And influential enough.

  • Kitty Kilian

    I do not understand why nobody has as yet made a plugin that just gathers all comments, tweets, shares and plusses at the bottom of your blog post. There is a plugin that collects retweets, there is a plugin that connects your blog comments to Facebok, but we need a comprehensive one. And then.. all our sorrows are over.

  • Kitty Kilian

    Meta meta meta, even! 😉

  • Chris always makes great points and is one of the best thinkers on the web. Thanks for sharing Steve.

  • Kitty, that is the Elvis Effect I mention. If you are fmaous enough people will follow you regardless. I think that is what Chris is betting on. Well, obviously.

    Between the use of sponsored posts and shutting of comments he is putting his audience at risk. Perhaps he is big enough to do that. Time will tell but he is a pretty smart guy.

  • Kitty Kilian

    Aha, I get it. I was misdirected by the ‘too much stuff to keep up with’ – and anyway, Elvis would not even have needed a blog 😉

  • I’m thinking “out loud” here … I’m not sure I can think of a reason why a blog would NOT want to build community in some form — even if the comments are offline. The content would be a waste of time if it is not actively working to build an audience.

    So we can look at comments in this repect — do they help you build an audience or is it a waste of space?

    I would think that any blogger — B2B or B2C — who is working hard out there is craving comments. I’m not sure I can think of many cases where the “shallow pool” you mention would be a strategy (i.e. we want very little engagement on our blog). The only example I can think of is in the case of medical doctors who are prevented by regulation from giving advice out in that manner.

    So I guess my conclusion is that except in the case where you are an Elvis-type blogger you can only maximize your blog by maximizing community and creating a “deep pool” would help that, right?

    Obviously your comment was thought-provoking Jeff! Thanks for adding your wisdom to the discussion!

  • Thank you sir.

  • I think this is a great idea. I have seen some bloggers collect the tweets at the bottom of the post as “comments” which is not really that useful because basically it is a bunch of people tweeting the same headline.

    I also know that a few people use Facebook comments as their blog comment system but there are some complexities with that. There is even one blogger I have seen who is using a Google comment system.

    So the pieces and parts are probably there somehow but I don’t know how you would pull it together since presumably much of the Facebook interaction would be behind a privacy wall.

    Akismet works really well. But what I (and others) are seeing is that the spammers are getting really clever. For example, some of the are copying real comments from other people and posting them as their own to get through the filters. Other people are using the comment section to promote their businesses — I get some of that too.

    So I do agree that spam is annoying and getting worse but honestly, it is something even a huge blog could probably handle with an intern or a virtual assistant.

  • I’ve changed my stance on blog comments periodically Mark but only in the sense of how important or successful they imply a blog might be in terms of social interaction and social proof.

    I certainly think they’re important to create and maintain relationships and to generate a sense of community on a blog but I don’t think they are a metric for how successful that blog is (or at least from a business point of view).

    However, in the past I’ve struggled with one-liner comments, spam and backlink hunters, particularly as I had CommentLuv installed. Since I moved to Disqus that hasn’t been a problem.

    One of my goals from email marketing is to continue the community theme and I always invite people to comment on my blog posts in any broadcast I send out. Why? Because it’s a reliable source of traffic but also because I want people to feel part of a larger community as well as being able to converse with me by email on a one-to-one basis.

    If I took away the comments, I don’t think my blog would be half as interesting for me or anyone else. The comments often form another part of the blog post itself.

  • Kitty Kilian

    I collect retweets. It’s social proof. And also, a lot of people do add comments in their retweets. But I agree that real comments are more interesting.

    O, and we also need to add Linkedin to that plugin. I see more and more discussion on Linkedin.

    There actually is a WP plugin that gathers from several sources, it is called Comments Evolved and it ‘makes the
    comment section tabbed seamlessly adding tabs for G+ Comments, Facebook,
    Disqus, WordPress Comments, and Trackbacks’. I tried it and it can be used in combination with the Twitter Mentions As Comments plugin – you still lack linkedin – but… it is hideous. Its layout is that of Google Plus. Also: it does not give you all the comments in one row, you have to click on several tabs. I don’t want that, either.

  • I was gonna say that, having seen it elsewhere, that the CE format still requires a reader to click thru all the other streams.

    To your other point, a plug that pulls it into one cohesive conversation… on one hand it makes sense. Especially to me, one who misses the old ‘my comments elsewhere’ plug that let you show readers your other content, the sometimes very good comments you share on others blogs. But the other hand thinks that’d be a fairly unwieldy mess as I’d suspect a lot of headlines and repetition, and it’d be a lot harder to moderate, a challenge to use to build a strong community.

  • Yet another post bookmarked for yet another ‘someday’ post I started drafting, after visiting a different blog from another speaker, author, blogger. That ‘blog’ had neither a comment section nor even social sharing buttons, which got be thinking. Always dangerous.

    The above blog is in air quotes, the point of my post was (will be) to ask and posit answers to the ‘WTH is a blog anyway?’ question vis a vis some of the non-existent rules. I totally get and respect the YMMV approach, @FreePhotoResources:disqus nails the point: it’s all about you and why, what’s the point of your blog, why are you doing it, what do you want to get out of it. If you define ROI as money in the coffers, so be it. If you have a different approach to social, good on you.

    As for me and my blog, my rules – no spoiler alert needed, you can guess where I stand – even though I may not get many comments, I’m not writing because I in love with the sound of my own typing. I’m publishing a blog because I’ve got something to share, something I think will help others – and comments are a part of that. Even if I don’t manage to cash in, the lights are staying on. FWIW.

  • Blue Suede Blog?

  • Absolutely. More often than not, the comments are more interesting than the blog!

  • Ha! Sounds like that old Motel 6 commercial … “We’ll keep the lights on for you.” Good to know Davina. Thanks so much for adding to the dialogue.

  • Point taken Kitty, but there are never any absolute right or wrong approaches. Godin is a great example, (as you say, kind of like an Elvis of Social Media), but they are few and far between.

    Without at all trying to insult anyone or even suggest I even really know what I’m talking about (this is just an opinionated comment after all), are these “Icons” still really relevant to those who’ve moved past the fundamentals? Didn’t they get to where they are by leveraging the community they’ve now left behind?

    Personally, I get a lot more out of communities like this one than from the “iconic” preaching. IMHO, they are just on auto-pilot.

  • Kostas

    Interesting. I have to be honest, it has never even occurred to me to turn off commenting. It’s not a choice I agree with no matter who is advocating it!

  • Herb Silverman

    I am torn of the dialogue between the two of you; even though my blog is dot of a dot of a dot, I don’t like spam or nasty comments of social media, so I can see Chris’s point.

    However, the scale points to your analysis because of the interaction between prospective clients or connections and a blogger. Has said a long time ago in one of your articles, that one connection of one comment may land into a wonderful relationship and, going further, a bond that may be advantageous for years to come. (Already, it is happening for me which I am very pleased indeed.)

    So in some senses, I keeping the light on, too, so to speak.

  • Thanks for adding your perspective.

  • I think spam is normally manageable. I wouldn’t make decisions based on fear of nasty people. A blog is not a democracy. You can delete the bad stuff.

  • Herb Silverman

    I agree on this point wholeheartedly.

  • Doug Bedell

    Geez, yes. Comments are about building community. They’re worth attention and, if some amount to spam, maintenance. But keep them!

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  • who is chris brogan? he has no community on facebook. he is not a
    marketer. and social media rockstars died in 2012 (name 1

    most of the personal brand successes failed as business consultants.

    again who is chris brogan? the last time anything he wrote was of
    interest or value me…was…..thinking…hold on…thinking…

    my guess is too many comments said ‘where’s the beef?’ and he got tired of it.

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  • Unlike you Mark who in the past has so gracefully and graciously accepted my dissenting views, very few big time bloggers can handle this. Many are introverts with fragile egos and unless the conversation is Rah Rah they are not happy. I think as Chris’s star waned the last few years he has less ego stroking and more hard questions to answer in his comment section. Those hard comments can expose someone for not being smarter than the readers.

    While I don’t feel you must have these discussions on your blog posts, the fact is people will have them without you. And if you stake your livelihood on being smarter if you can defend your positions surely your livelihood is probably best suited in another line of work.

  • No easy answers to assembling those conversations. Another reason to keep the comments on!

  • This is borderlline mean and I know you well enough after all these years to know you have an amazing heart my friend. But I think we can focus on the intent behind the comment.

    I do think you have a legitimate point that many, many people who built online brands have faded away in the last few years, for whatever the reason, and there is probably some connection to trust and community there. When I think about the leaders when I came on the scene in 2008, almost all are gone on to other things. Pretty crazy when you think about it.

  • As I said, there are no rules, but it has worked for me.

  • This is a really interesting perspective Howie. The irony is, I have always approached both blogging and consulting with a humble view. I do not pretend to have all the answers — and I don’t. I do, however, have the right questions. And if you ask the right questions, you will help people find the truth they seek.if I ever come across as holier-than-thou I would invite you to kick me in the ass and I know you would too!

  • Sorry that it came across so biting. I think my view that personal brand success strategies do not work for businesses. That so few including Chris and Brian Solis and many others have never shown me proof their ‘thought leadership’ has worked for anyone they have advised. I have not read 100’s of their posts but the ones I do surprise me. If you go to Facebook both of them have no community (though to be fair most communities for brands have been dead for 2 years because Facebook wants pay to play).

    So the question is of the comments themselves and their value. I am proudly banned from commenting on mashable because they would post press releases as articles with suspect or no supporting data and just questioning them was something they did not want. So they decided not to have me have any readers think about the content. So turning off comments to me is more that people got tired of being questioned sincerely or insincerely. They have a brand to defend!

    I agree comments should be encouraged and left open whether for monetizing or not. If you want to be a thought leader you should be discussing thoughts. And I do feel ‘rock stars are dead’ partly because so many of us are working more or working after not having work. I also feel major brands have seen such low results from these folks that they stopped paying attention.

    Not sure if you are aware and I only saw it recently for research purposes but Coke abandoned their 84 million Facebook fans. They rarely post if ever. Sometimes going months without and not replying to posts on the page. I bet they listen and sift through the chatter. But back in 2009 these pages were in the news for how many fans they had and the power of social to bypass TV. Guess not.

    My apologies on the tone of my initial comment Mark! and I feel you really have done wonders to foster conversation and discussion and are an example for others to look up too!

  • No need to apologize. I know you to be a good man and a passionate thinker and that is certainly showing up here in this wonderful comment.

    I have heard direct feedback from big brands and also agencies that some gurus didn’t cut it so I can verify your views there but of course I have very limited data points.

    I do think we are in a shaking out period and that will continue. Ironically, there are probably more gurus per capita than ever : )

    Keep pushing the edges. We need more critical thinkers like you out here!

  • Mark

    Thanks for another insightful post that results in great conversation and a lot to think about.

    Your blog is one of a handful of blogs where the comments section is as valuable as the blog post itself. With many blogs, if there are any comments, the response by the blogger is short and thank you. What I like about your blog is that you and your readers/community add more to the original post.

    While my personal learning network is certainly experiencing a content shock with extreme difficulty to keep up, your Grow blog stands out as a model for community.

    I enjoy Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+, but still cannot see how true community and conversations there can replace what you have developed here on your blog.

    I know your time is limited, but I truly appreciate your extraordinary efforts to keep the conversation going. This is why I read all your books and have you in my Feedly Social Media Top Folder and my Twitter Social Media Top List. Your books and many of your blog posts are required reading by my social media students.

    Thanks. And, I hope your summer is going well.


  • My goodness professor. That is one to print out and hang by the computer. That one will keep me going for a few days!

    I think there is a tremendous irony in our field right now. For years we preached “trust, conversation, community.” Although there have been various attempts to sugar coat it, shutting off comments shuts off community, at least a very key aspect of it — as I said, the reliable reach!

    So what is the implication? The gurus were wrong? They changed their mind?

    I don’t think it is wrong to build and maintain a community. Sure it takes work but it is a helluva lot better than making cold calls. And more fun. And more educational.

    BTW, when do I get to skype into one of your classes for a Q&A?

  • Interesting, thought provoking post here Mark. I think you have made an important point about the value of having the whole conversation centered on your blog, and the lasting power of that. I enjoy checking into your blog weekly because of posts like this that spur my thought process about my own business and blog. I see the value of the conversation but have not been very successful (yet!) at getting more conversation started on my own blog. It’s my own fault, the constant juggling act between my business, family time, creative pursuits and writing for my blog continues. So, I read your posts and admire what you have been able to achieve and it helps me to see potential for growth in my endeavors. Many thanks… T

  • No doubt. Some influencers may get too busy with too many followers and connections to keep up with the conversations that on the surface may not have an immediate “return on influence.”

    Mark, I would love to have you Skype into my social media class. I will offer it again in the Spring semester and will contact you about scheduling then.

    Thanks again, Mark. I do plan to read your revision of the Tao of Twitter. I am always seeking new insights and ideas.

  • Thanks for the very kind comment Trace!

  • I’ve blogged and blogged over the years about comments – finally setlling on using a combination of standard google/blogspot comments alongside Facebook comments for my main blog. Back in the mid 2000’s there were a lot of blogs that featured some great discussions/dialog via their comments sections. Good to see that’s still being practiced here on businessesgrow!
    See also

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