Getting more blog comments vs cultivating more blog conversations

by Mack Collier

One of the big concerns for so many bloggers is getting more comments on their blog.  There have been a gazillion posts written on how to get more comments, I have written a few myself.  But I think an important distinction we need to make is that getting more comments does not necessarily equal getting more CONVERSATIONS on your blog. And at the end of the day, I think when most bloggers say ‘I want more comments on my blog!’ what they REALLY mean is ‘I want more conversations on my blog!’

So if we really want more conversations, then that requires a slightly different approach than simply trying to get more comments.  And it was this distinction that we discussed last night during #Blogchat.  You can view the transcript here.

In chatting with all the other smarties during #Blogchat last night, I think we agreed upon a few key ways to cultivate more conversations (not just comments) on your blog:

1 – Ask your readers what they think.  I remember @JudyMartin8 specifically made this point.  It’s a great way to encourage your readers to get their point of view out in the open, and that increases the chance that others can agree or disagree with their points.

2 – Push commenters to go beyond just saying ‘Great post!’.  We all get these comments, and I definitely appreciate them.  But as far as cultivating conversations, these really don’t help us much.  When you get these type of comments, ask the commenter to share WHAT they liked about the post.  This way you get an interaction started with them, that could lead to a conversation.  Both @profkrg and @kamkansas made this point.

3 – Help connect commenters that make complimentary or opposing points.  This is a great way to cultivate conversations that I don’t think enough bloggers focus on.  If one blogger makes a point, then another follows up with a comment that either builds on their point or offers a differing point of view, try to connect the two.  Leave a comment like ‘Hey Sarah, I think Pete was making a similar point in his comment’, or ‘Jim I like where you are going with this, but what would you say to someone like Kathy, that thinks the opposite?’

 

At the end of the day, I think we as bloggers need to take ownership and proactively cultivate the conversations that we want to see happen.  I think we need to go beyond simply trying to get more comments, because as I said last night, if you get 10 comments that all say ‘Great post!’, that is NOT a conversation, that’s 10 comments.

What else could we be doing to cultivate conversations in the comments section of our posts?  What works for you on your blog?

Bruce Sallan (@BruceSallan) October 24, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Sorry Mack, I usually agree with you. But, with #2 I have to disagree. Let’s imagine a comment thread:

You: Great post, Bruce!
Me: Really, you liked it?
You: Yeah
Me: Wow, that’s so cool, what exactly did you like?
You: Only 4 spelling mistakes. Nice.

Now, isn’t that the sort of depth we ALL really want with a conversation? LOL!

Mack Collier October 25, 2011 at 9:19 am

As always Bruce, your mileage may vary ;)

Judy martin October 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Hi Mack,
Great Post! — had to do it!

Seriously – I think it’s good to acknowledge the work and ideas of people, especially those in your niche. But I do feel that if you’re going to comment – one should make the attempt to engage in an authentic way. I see a lot of people just commenting – to see and be seen. I really try to give thought to what I say. I want to contribute to the conversation – not just hang out. Last night’s #BlogChat was a wonderful engaging conversation. We all have fun and indeed we do hangout – but people tend to be thoughtful as well. Great people last night.

Mack Collier October 25, 2011 at 9:23 am

Thank you Judy! It’s interesting, I was talking to John Moore about this as it pertains to speaking, but I have noticed the same thing in Twitter chats: There seem to be two type of people that participate in Twitter chats; those that are trying to draw attention to themselves, and those that are trying to draw attention to their ideas. I think the latter group is the one that creates vibrant conversations, while the former group is more likely to tweet ‘soundbytes’ that are more RT-able.

Both have their place, but I know from my own experience that I prefer to plant the seed of an idea and see where the community takes it. I appreciate people like you Judy that value the same ;)

Steve Fogg October 24, 2011 at 11:21 pm

Mack, it was great to join you on #blogchat and actually chime in, instead of lurking ;-). The community is so responsive which is fabulous!

I mentioned that I think conversation can only come from creating content that is actually WORTH talking about which is a challenge for so many bloggers because they all sound the same and have the same views on many of the topics. I’m not talking about begin different for the sake of being controversial, but rather expressing your view in a voice that is from the heart as well as being smart.

Mack Collier October 25, 2011 at 9:36 am

Hey Steve! You are exactly right, content does play a big role in generating conversations. And I think a great way to generate those conversations is to do exactly what you suggest: Give your own point of view on the topic you are writing about. I think too many bloggers write about a topic, and all they do is point you toward what Popular Blogger A and Popular Blogger B wrote, and add ‘check them out!’ I’ve already read what those bloggers had to say, I want to hear what YOU have to say!

But as bloggers, how can we overcome that and make sure we are speaking in our own voice? Is it about having the confidence to do so?

Karen Swim October 25, 2011 at 8:10 am

Hi Mack, great thoughts and while reading I was pondering the question you pose. One way to generate conversation is to delve into deeper, and perhaps even controversial topics. Writing with passion about subjects that matter may cause you to take a bit of a risk (especially for business bloggers) but nothing gets people talking like topics that challenge them or hit them in a personal way.

Mack Collier October 25, 2011 at 9:39 am

Hey Karen! I agree, writing about more conversational topics will increase the chances of getting a response. But I think we need to be careful, because if we blog about a really ‘hot button’ issue, these are the topics that people often respond to passionately, and sometimes without thinking or considering the point of view of the person they are responding to. So if we pick the ‘wrong’ topic, instead of a conversation, it could be that all we generate is an argument.

Not saying that we should never blog about controversial topics, but I think we should know what we are getting into when we do ;)

Bill Dorman October 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Hey Mike……..er uh Mark…………..I mean Mack, I hear what you are saying. Sometimes I am content with the comments but have figured out how to make it a conversation by asking a question back and also by mentioning someone else in a reply to bring them in.

Now, if I can just get them to leave $5 every time they comment I will be cookin’ w/ gas, huh?

Nick Stewart October 25, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Good points Mark. I think for a lot of bloggers just responding to comments is a great start to get the conversation going.

Also having good content helps a lot too; if people leave after 5 seconds because your content sucks then you won’t get many comments.

Nick Stewart October 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Hey Mack sorry for misspelling your name in the previous comment!!

Bill Dorman October 26, 2011 at 11:05 am

You’ve gone and done it now……….whew, I’m glad it was you and not me this time……………just sayin’……………..:)

Mack Collier October 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm

You both are terrible. ;)

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