Blogs are sexy again. As we move away from social media sites and toward a more decentralized social web experience, people and businesses are devoting more time to their blogs as a way to connect with readers and potential customers. If you’re devoting more time to your blog, don’t forget to focus on writing better blog comments. Whether you are replying to a reader on your own blog or leaving a comment on someone else’s blog, commenting is one of the best ways you can connect with new readers/customers, and build exposure for your business. Let’s talk about how to write great comments whether it’s on another blog, or on your own.
How to Write Great Blog Comments on Other Blogs
One of the best ways to grow your blog, is to leave it. What I mean by this is leaving comments on other blogs is a great way to create value for others, and ultimately grow awareness for your own blogging efforts. This is especially helpful for new bloggers that are looking to build a readership or following as compared to established bloggers.
But not all blog comments are created equal, and here’s some of the tips I’ve learned over the years for writing great blog comments:
1 – Add something to the conversation. Often I will read a post and think ‘wow, great post!’ But go past that, highlight issues that the blogger addressed, and add your own take. You don’t have to agree completely, and you don’t have to stick with their point. If one example they mentioned reminds you of another instance from your own experiences, mention that. But try to avoid simply repeating what others have said. And this is easier to do when you…
2 – Comment early. Sure it’s nice to let a few people comment first, so then you can build off what they say, as well as the blogger’s post. But what if you wait too long and everyone has addressed the points you wanted to raise? And for well-trafficked blogs like Chris Brogan’s or Liz Strauss‘, each post can get dozens of comments, and not everyone will read down if your comment is #37 of 54.
3 – Don’t over-promote yourself. No one likes reading a comment that’s blatant self-promotion. We’ve all seen these comments, “Hey Mack, really great thoughts on this topic, I recently blogged about this as well…”, then they include a link to their blog (In fact, I often delete these comments if someone attempts to leave one here). Obviously, the only reason they left the comment was to link out to their site. Remember that you aren’t leaving the comment to promote yourself, you are trying to create value for the blog by adding to the conversation. If you’ve done your job, you’ll get promotion as an indirect result of your efforts.
4 – You can disagree, without being disagreeable. I might be a bit different from some in how I approach disagreements in the comments section, but I love it when readers disagree with my posts, and challenge my points. The biggest reason why, is because when you bring in alternative points, that extends the conversation and gives more people a chance to jump and leave their point of view.
However, always remember that it’s ok to ‘attack’ the ideas, but not the people presenting the ideas. Challenging stances and ideas are fine, but personal attacks add nothing to the conversation, and make you look like a jackass. Not what you want. Feel free to disagree, but don’t be disagreeable.
5 – Ask questions. What if you find a post and agree with the post, and everything the commenters have said. Now what? Why not ask a question or bring up a point that no one has raised yet? One thing that often happens, especially on blogs where the writer is very popular, is the readers may all agree with the writer. Why not offer a contrarian view and bring up the other side of the issue? Again, this helps extend the conversation, and you might find that others will then chime in saying that they agree with your point of view.
6 – Know why you are commenting. Are you leaving a comment to draw attention to yourself, or to add to the conversation? As with most everything else in social media, blog comments work best as a way to INdirectly promote yourself. Write a comment that others find value in, and that encourages others to check out your blog, follow you on Twitter, etc. Write a comment that was clearly intended to promote your blog, and you will likely gain nothing, and hurt your reputation.
How to Write Great Blog Comments on Your Own Blog (And Tips For Leveraging Great Comments Left By Your Readers)
So that covers how to write great blog comments on someone else’s blog, but how do you handle blogs written on your own site?
My over-arching rule for comments on your own blog is Reward the Behavior You Want to Encourage. If your blog allows readers to comment, then you want readers to comment. So if commenting is the reader behavior that you want, then you need to think about what you can do to encourage more readers to comment. Here’s some of my tips:
1 – Reply to as many comments as possible. If a reader comments on your blog, you want to reply to that comment if at all possible. This signals to the reader that you read their comment, and that you appreciate their comment enough to take the time to respond to them. This also ENCOURAGES this reader to comment again, since they know you will reply to them if they do.
2 – Ask the reader to expand on their thoughts. If a reader has left an indepth comment, then feel free to engage them in your reply and ask them to clarify or expand on a point they raised in their comment. This doesn’t always work as the reader that left the original comment may not see your reply to them or they may not feel like replying. Still, by replying to the commenter you are signaling to them and all your readers that you value their comment and that encourages your readers to comment more often.
3 – Add great reader comments to the body of the post they are commenting on. This is a great way to acknowledge and thank your reader for a great comment, and it encourages them to comment again. If a reader leaves a comment that I want to highlight, I will add it to the end of the post (or in another part of the post, if relevant), and make special mention of the comment, and the person who left the comment. If the commenter added a link to their blog when they commented, I will add a link to their blog when I add the comment to my post, as an extra incentive for the readers to comment more often, as well as an additional way to acknowledge and thank the reader for their great comment. Also, doing this encourages readers to check out the comments and may encourage them to leave their own comment.
These are some tips I have learned from my own experience in writing blog comments. What did I miss that works for you?