After spending much of the last weeks on tweaking items on SkinnyChef.com, I returned to the topic of comments and community response. “Why do some sites have a significant involvement of their constituent community, and others simply languish?”
Is it the content? Is it the fact that we struggle to get that “first comment” that leads to many more comments? Below are a few excerpts from a relevant post on Dev Lounge:
- What’s the big deal anyways? As an author, you always want to hear from the audience and get their response to what you’re saying. Did it make any sense to them at all? Was the piece helpful, or just a waste of five minutes of reading? Comments help authors determine what they’re doing wrong, how they can correct things, and how they can improve their writing style to better the connection to their audience […]. The truth is, response is almost as critical the actual piece itself. An blog author without comments is like a dog without a bone – pissed off and laying down in the corner.
- Writing Style Matters
Every person is different, and everyone does things a little differently. One thing that seems to determine comments is the authors individual writing style. How they convey themselves on what they’re talking about in each article has a lot of effect on the readers. If the author seems confused what they’re telling the reader to do, the reader will immediately dismiss the article and move on […].
- Leave in some openness
Some people tend to forget how open-endedness can really help a posts response. Add in questions that get visitors to think and form logical responses. If you’re dealing with a controversial topic or one that has multiple solutions, once some visitors start voicing their opinions, others will get involved with their own responses. This can lead to a heavy build up of comments, and an ongoing discussion between site visitors, which is always a good thing.
- Join In
No matter how many comments an article may have, either a lot or a little, make sure you’re getting involved in the response as well. A lot of times people will ask me questions about “how to do this” or “is this possible” in relation to my multi-article WordPress customization guides. I try to help as much as I can, and point them in the right direction when I can’t give full blown out instructions. Just like you like to hear from visitors, visitors like to hear from authors so they know their comments aren’t falling on deaf ears. This also helps spark some of that back and forth commenting I talked about above.
- You Comment Mine, I’ll Comment Yours
I heard that commenting on others peoples blogs will also help you turn in the comments yourself. I haven’t had much success with this, as I’ve commented on many other peoples blogs but have not received the same response back. It usually take a link to show up in Mint to here something from a fellow site. If you’re going to go with the “1-for-1 exchange”, make sure the comment you left on another site was deeply formulated and well thought out, as it will increase the chances of that author returning the favor to your own articles. Posting a simple “Nice post” generally doesn’t yield many results.
- Design Matters
Site design also plays a big part in harvesting comments. If a design is poorly put together, you can expect visitors to not waste much time trying to figure out how or where to go to leave a comment. Make it easier for them by inserting skip to comment links at the top of articles (now added here), and dedicating a clear place for responses either at the top, bottom, or sides of posts. Don’t make readers leave the page unless they really have to (IE, discussing in a forum thread). Make sure if you were a visitor to your site, you would understand how commenting works, because if it’s hard for you to grasp the concept, imagine the difficulty it could cause first time visitors.
- Articles + Response = Happy You
In the end if you’re successful with getting visitors to respond to your posts, you’ll feel much better about hitting that publish button, and you’ll probably find yourself doing it a lot more. Make a personal connection with your visitors, and give them something to talk about. Hopefully I’ll see myself having to hear from you in response to this article, otherwise I might have to head back into a corner with a dog somewhere […].