We all hope that our blogs will eventually transition from ‘just another blog,’ into an active community discussion platform. This largely starts with readers beginning to actively participate in the comments. But how do you encourage your readers to leave comments (without personally hunting them down and begging them, of course)?
Discuss, Don’t Lecture
There’s a fine line between a discussion forum and a lecture. If your posts read like a lecture, they’re not very open to commenting. If you’re essentially just rambling off a list of your opinions without opening the floor to anyone else to contribute theirs in some way, then why would they take the time? Put your points across in a way that opens up an avenue for discussion or debate.
Don’t Over-Police Comments
If someone comments once and finds that their comment has been heavily edited to fit in more with the beliefs of the blogger, they’re unlikely to contribute again. Even if someone disagrees with your points, they’re entitled to their say. And this can be great for opening up discussion. Some of the most commented on guest posts take the form of debate. Someone disagreeing with your opinion really isn’t something you should take personally as a blogger. Comment moderation is necessary to fight against spam and obscenities. It’s not necessary to fight against diversity in opinions!
Don’t Sit on the Fence too Much
If you’re blogging about a feud between a couple of celebrities, as an example, by all means quote both sides. But, unless you’re writing for a high brow professional publication that demands it, sitting firmly on the fence doesn’t really promote any active discussion or debate. What’s your opinion? People will read your blog because they like how you write and how you put across your opinions or information? Listing off facts or repeating newspaper clippings isn’t going to set the world alight. If you’re writing about something people already know about, you need to add your own spin on it. Otherwise, why would they read about it at your blog in the first place? Why would they not just go to a newspaper’s website? Sitting on the fence and refusing to elaborate on an opinion means that those readers with an opinion don’t even know whether they agree or disagree with you – because they don’t know what you think!
Respond to Commenters
If someone comments and asks a question, the polite thing to do is to personally respond. Of course this might not be possible if you always get hundreds of comments. But it’s certainly worth trying. People leaving comments like to know their comments have been read. Why would they leave them otherwise? Responding to comments means that you remain involved in the discussion after the initial post and this sets the standard and really places your blog firmly as a platform for interaction.
Read, read, read.
Read the blogs of others in a similar niche. If a certain post makes you want to comment ask yourself why you want to comment. Understanding the psychology behind a compulsion to have your say means you can apply the same principles to your own blog. And taking the time to comment on the blogs of others means you are becoming a part of a network. Strong blog networks are made up of a number of bloggers who read one another’s posts regularly and comment.
Of course, different methods apply to different blogs and everyone tries different tricks.
What works for you?