The secret reason your blog comments are down

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By Mark Schaefer

The number of comments I’m receiving on my blog has been in sharp decline for the last three years. And I don’t care. Today I’m going to tell you why.

Content on the rise

First, let’s go through the facts of the situation.

  • Over the past three years, the number of subscribers to my blog has gone up dramatically.
  • The social shares of my content has also gone up, meaning people like my work well enough to spread it to their own audience — the ultimate compliment.
  • I believe my content is better than it was three years ago. Of course this is subjective, but the fact that I am getting more subscribers and shares would tend to validate that I’m doing a good job.

So, by all measures this is a successful blog. All measures but one, that is.

Comment calamity

In 2014, a blog post attracted about 25 comments, on average (I took out the Content Shock article which received 1,600 comments and would have skewed the average!)

In 2017, I’m averaging 12 comments per post — less than half of what I had in 2014!

And yet, I’m not worried because the root cause is out of my control — It’s the move to mobile.

In 2014, about 25 percent of my readers viewed this blog on a mobile device. Today, it’s nearly all of my traffic. What does this mean to comments?

Let me relate a story. A friend of mine posted a comment on one of my articles on LinkedIn, but didn’t leave on one my blog. I wondered why, and here was his answer:

“I would have posted there, if I were at my computer when I wrote this (especially knowing how important the blog comment community is to you). But since I was on my mobile, I went for LinkedIn because the experience of posting a comment is consistent there. Popping over to your blog on a phone and trying to authenticate with a comment system and deal with a potentially foreign UI seemed like too much friction.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why my blog comments are down, and why yours probably are too. It’s just too hard leaving a comment on a phone.

What’s next for comments?

I’m at peace with the situation. Mobile is a platform meant for viewing content, not creating content — even something small like a comment. So, I’m at the mercy of the universe at this point.

I’m not worried, I’m not re-visiting my content strategy, I’m not trying to create some artificial new way to engage with my readers and right the ship. It just is what it is.

And by the way, I’m still getting tons of comments, it’s just not on my blog. When I cross-post my content on Facebook or LinkedIn, I’ll get 200% or 300% more comments on those platforms than on my homebase. Why? It’s easy to post a comment there!

I do believe the blog community here on {grow} is poorer with fewer comments. I miss:

  • People connecting the dots between my ideas and their ideas.
  • Feedback on my commentary that may eventually show up in my classes or other content (I have even used blog comments in my books!)
  • True debate that challenges me and makes me think and learn.

But the lesson is, don’t fall for the guru speak that you’re not getting comments because your content sucks. That may be true I suppose, but a more likely reason is that it’s harder than ever to actually leave a comment on your blog.

OK. How about a comment about that? : )

SXSW 2016 3Mark 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.

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