Does your content seem to inspire crickets more than conversation? ProBlogger suggests that only one out of 100 readers leave a comment. Even if it’s disappointing, it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Your audience might play a big role in this quandary. Writers tend to comment more. People who don’t earn a living making words are less apt. Blog Marketing Academy has this to say:
”Bloggers just happen to comment on other blogs a lot. Regular readers (who don’t blog) are USED to the one-way flow of the Internet. To them, it just feels weird to post a comment.”
You’ve likely felt a pang of comment envy at least once. Here are four ways to boost audience engagement and plant the seeds that help encourage readers to say something:
Invite the Exchange: Give Readers a Reason to Comment
Informational posts with no questions or calls to action don’t invite comments. It’s like reading a book. Readers learn what they need, and then move on. If you want to spark comments on posts that focus on information, you have to invite the discussion.
Ask a question. Challenge readers to share mutual or opposing opinions. Let readers know that you’re interested in what they have to say. This transforms one-sided content to interactive material.
Don’t Wrap it Up: When You Say it All, What’s Left to Say?
A definitive article might as well have, ”The End” tacked at the bottom. ProBlogger advises that open-ended posts give readers both an avenue and reason to leave comments.
It takes some skill, but don’t wrap it up – don’t make each post the definitive guide to peanuts. You might be an expert, but chances are pretty good that there’s a peanut expert or two among your readers.
Interact with Commenters: Show Readers That You Appreciate Their Time
Everyone wants to know they’ve been heard, and that others are paying attention. Certainly you do, which is why you want comments in the first place. When a reader is kind enough to leave a comment, show that you appreciate it with a reply.
One comment leads to another, and it doesn’t have to end there. Reader comments can spark new ideas. If you really want to engage readers and let them know you’re listening, carry it on to the next post.
Blog Marketing Academy suggests using reader comments as inspiration for more content:
”You could even highlight one of your commenters in a blog post and make a post out of it. In other words, make your blog’s content part of the conversation itself, rather than a top/down approach where the comments are merely a reaction.”
Make Rules and Stick to Them: Not All Comments are Good Comments
Readers need parameters for what is and isn’t acceptable. Huffington Post recently called a halt to anonymous comments presumably for this reason, and to put a stop to trolls.
Elizabeth Landers for CNN reports that Huffington Post Editor-in-Chief Arianna Huffington is changing the rules. In a conference Q&A session in August, Huffington announced that her publication will no longer allow commenters anonymity:
“From day one, our comments were pre-moderated, and we invested in the most advanced moderation technology along with human moderators,” she said. “Now we want to go a step further to evolve our platform — which has always been about community and engagement — to meet the needs of the grown-up Internet.”
It will be interesting to watch how these regulations affect the volume of HuffPo comments.
Most publications don’t leave the gate with an enormous volume of steady readers and commenters. It’s something you’ve got to build, and building takes time. Like any other aspect of your business, comments might not happen organically at first – you have to take some action. And a little encouragement goes a long way.