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Got Comments? How to Get More Interaction on Your Blog

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The other day I was checking out Monster's blog, and while at first glance it appears to be a solid company blog, I noted a glaring problem. The blog's comment policy states that "Comments are moderated; they should appear on the Monster Blog within one business day." One business day? Are you kidding me?


To me, that long of a delay is totally unacceptable for a company blog. Can it happen occasionally over the weekend? Sure, and most readers will forgive leaving a comment on Sunday at noon, and not having it show up till 9 am on Monday. But during business hours, a delay of even an hour is too long.
But more than anything, that policy screams that Monster doesn't value input from its blog readers. Which is a horrible mistake, as a company that blogs should be doing everything possible to encourage its readers to leave comments. The more input from its readers, the more valuable feedback the company can collect.
And there are so many very simple things that companies can do to encourage its readers to leave comments:
1 - If you moderate comments, approve them as quickly as possible. This is a simple courtesy to your readers that shows them that you value their input.
2 - Post regularly. This encourages visitors to become readers, and readers are far more likely to leave comments than visitors that have found your blog for the first time.
3 - Reply to comments from your readers! Another no-brainer, but so many companies overlook this. It shows your readers that you are actually paying attention to their comments, and want to hear what they have to say. And the more comments a post has, the more likely readers are to check out the comments.
4 - Read the blogs of your regular commenters, and comment on THEIR blog as much as possible. This is a wonderful way to build community for your blog, and it's another way to show your readers that you value their input. Then after you've discovered these wonderful blogs that your readers have, why not add a link to them on YOUR blog's sidebar?
5 - Add a "window" to the comments. I love this one. Let's say you leave a post, and Laura leaves an absolutely amazing comment. Almost immediately, other readers start commenting on Laura's comment! So a great way to 'thank' Laura for that comment, and to let your readers know about it, is to add her comment to the bottom of your post! Just add at the bottom of the post 'Laura says in the comments', and then Laura's comment. And remember to 'thank' Laura, by also linking to her blog when you add her comment to your post! I do this by adding the blog link to the person's name. You get to thank a reader for a great comment, and also let your other readers know about the party that's happening in the comments to that post!
6 - Ask your readers for their comments! The other day I posted on The Viral Garden about Monster's comment policy. I started to just say what I thought was wrong with the policy, and leave it at that. But instead, I simply posted Monster's comment policy, and asked my readers what they thought of it. As a result, I got far more comments than I likely would have, and probably better ones as well since I didn't take a stand and let the readers run with the comments!
And speaking of point #6, what are YOUR tips for how to encourage more comments on your blog? If you have any, please leave a comment! (See how easy it is?)


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Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs that let them better connect with their fans. His first business book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April of 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier
LinkedIn: Mack Collier

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  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Mack, Great suggestions for increasing comments. Two points stand out: 1. If someone leaves a comment, respond to it. I do so by sending the commentor an e-mail first and then I respond to the comment on my blog. Time consuming but I believe I owe it to every reader to respond to them personally when they take the time to comment. 2. Comment on others blog as much as possible: It's called the law of reciprocity (Pay It Forward), and I believe it is a big step to creating relationships online.

  • by david reich Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Good advice here. I understand some people wanting to moderate comments, but it should be done in a timely manner or it discourages real coversation. One day is much too long, I agree.

  • by Mack Collier Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Lewis commenting on other blogs, especially the blogs of your readers, just makes good sense. Not only are you 'thanking' your readers for their comments, but you find another great blog to add to your reading list.

  • by Mack Collier Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    David I totally get companies wanting to moderate comments. But a 1 business-day wait is far too long, as Ann said a couple of days ago 'why throw up a roadblock to interaction?'

  • by Ann Handley Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Nice post, Mack. I totally agree wholeheartedly with #3, Reply to the comments of the your readers. Nothing bugs me more than a blogger who posts, and then doesn't participate in the ensuing conversation. It sends the message -- I want you to know what I think, but I don't particularly care what YOU think! In other words, it runs counter to the spirit of blogging, which is about dialogue, not monologue. The truth is, "comments" are where the richest stuff can often be mined. I love comments not because it's validating to have 40 comments (or whatever) on any given post... but because it expands and enriches my thinking and perspective.

  • by B.L. Ochman Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    What a great post Mack! I have occasionally used comments as the basis of new posts, linking to the commenter and giving them a heads up that I've done that via email. I'm with ann. sometimes the best stuff is in the comments.

  • by Mack Collier Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    "What a great post Mack! I have occasionally used comments as the basis of new posts, linking to the commenter and giving them a heads up that I've done that via email." That's another great idea BL, and a great way to show your readers that you value their input! You're right Ann, a good blog post is one that STARTS a discussion, in the comments, and on other blogs.

  • by Allen Weiss Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Seems one reason why companies do this (and we did it here at the Daily Fix) was moderate comments because we received so many spam comments. We changed that recently with a simple challenge/response system, and now comments go up immediately. Not sure why you would want to moderate comments, unless there is some implicit censorship involved. If so, then you should get out of the blog business.

  • by Mack Collier Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    "Seems one reason why companies do this (and we did it here at the Daily Fix) was moderate comments because we received so many spam comments. We changed that recently with a simple challenge/response system, and now comments go up immediately." Which is a GREAT move, BTW! I definitely think this leads to MORE comments.

  • by Lewis Green Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Allen, I recognize why you went with a simple challenge/response system, but can you speed up the response. It is really slow.

  • by Allen Weiss Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Hi Lewis Turns out I don't have any control over the speed..this must be due to our server, and/or the programming of the plugin. When I get the chance I'll see if somebody else makes any easy plugin that is faster (although this plugin is very popular at Moveable Type).

  • by Valeria Maltoni Thu Jun 28, 2007 via blog

    Good post, Mack. I call it the comment imperative. My post is not actually completed until someone comes online and joins the conversation -- or links to it and expands on the concept... you get the idea. Some of my best posts were inspired directly by other people's comments and the ensuing interaction. As an aside: isn't it funny how we are taking a slogan "Got Milk?" and building upon it -- I titled my Sunday post 'Got Music?' and you titled this 'Got Comments?' So is there room to talk with advertisers too? Hmmmm.

  • by Clive Fernandes Fri Jun 29, 2007 via blog

    Some nice tips there. Coincidently, I implemented the asking for comments tip on my blog today itself. I host an entrepreneur interview blog. I was wondering how to make my blog more interactive, get readers to suggest questions etc. I was debating with myself the potential changes to my entire blog structure,etc to accompolish this - when suddenly it struck me, why not just ASK. So all I did was put up a post encouraging my readers to submit thier questions via the comments box and I promise to get back to the interviews for the answers. Will keep you guys updated on the results of that! So what I did was add a text to the bottom of all posts encouraging people to ask more questions.

  • by Mack Collier Fri Jun 29, 2007 via blog

    "Some of my best posts were inspired directly by other people's comments and the ensuing interaction." Exactly Valeria, which is another great reason to participate in the comments, because what blogger doesn't need another great idea for a post?

  • by Michael Martine Fri Jun 29, 2007 via blog

    I have found that emailing commentors directly has been an excellent way to build up relationships with others. Great tips! I think I just subscribed to your feed...

  • by Steve Woodruff Sat Jun 30, 2007 via blog

    I guess I'll sprinkle just a little passing shower on this parade. Many of us highly value the dialogue aspect of blogging; but a large company may have a bit more of an interest in a controlled, semi-monologue environment. They don't feel that they can afford full expression of just anything on their blog "property," which is certainly less of an issue for us freelancers. Once you're in a big corporate environment, like it or not, there are often unique pressures to have more controlled communications. Those blogs may well end up with a more "filtered" sense about them, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are some frustrated bloggers behind the scenes wishing it weren't so!

  • by Douglas Karr Sat Jun 30, 2007 via blog

    Mack, Fantastic tips, dead-on! If my blog is the heart, the comments are the blood that keeps it moving. I comment on my own blog more than others to keep the conversation going. I also reply to anyone who emails me through my contact page. Regards, Doug

  • by Curvaceous Dee Mon Jul 9, 2007 via blog

    I have to add my agreement to #3! I also do as Lewis and Michael do - when I reply to comments I always email my reply to them, as well as replying in the comments thread at the post. This has the additional bonus of building up friendships - we often end up conversing via email and chat and I get to know them much better than I do purely through their blog posts and comments on mine. xx Dee

  • by Bryan Person, Monster Blogger Fri Jul 13, 2007 via blog

    Mack, Great post and comment stream here. I was on vacation for a couple of weeks (and not reading blogs during that time, which kept my wife happy) and so only just stumbling into the discussion now. I'm the person responsible for the language on the comments policy, so let me explain. * We moderate comments only for spam (which we receive a fair bit of) and obscenities/slander (not so much, but occasionally), not based on whether we like/dislike/agree/disagree with the content of the comment itself. Particularly for a company blog, I think this is reasonable. * I wanted to create a realistic expectation for readers as to when they could expect to see their comment appear on the blog. If the comment is left after work hours or on the weekend, our individual bloggers aren't necessarily checking their e-mails/Typepad to see that a new comment has come on to be approve. You could argue that they probably should, but I could counter that an employee's time outside of work is his/her own. There's something to be said for work/life balance, too! * For the most part, when we are in the office and at our desks, we'll approve the comments within that hour that you were recommending. But to my thinking, "within one business day" is clearer than "as soon as possible." * Unfortunately, I don't see that Typepad, our blogging platform, gives us an option to automatically approve comments from previous commenters. My own personal blogs are all on WordPress, and I take full advantage of this feature. With Typepad -- and someone correct me if I'm wrong -- we have the option to allow all comments through right way or hold all for moderation. Because of the reasons I listed in the first point, we have to go with the second option. As for your other comments, I agree. Good comment threads can really drive a blog, and good bloggers should really be responding to their readers' comments. I'll admit that this is something we could a better job of on The Monster Blog. Thanks for raising this issue, Mack, and for keeping us on our toes. I'm going to have another think about our disclaimer, and see if there might not be a better way to write it. Bryan Person The Monster Blog

  • by Mack Collier Fri Jul 13, 2007 via blog

    Hi Bryan, thanks for leaving Monster's view of their comment policy. I did want to address this point you made: "If the comment is left after work hours or on the weekend, our individual bloggers aren't necessarily checking their e-mails/Typepad to see that a new comment has come on to be approve. You could argue that they probably should, but I could counter that an employee's time outside of work is his/her own. There's something to be said for work/life balance, too!" Based on the number of comments that Monster's blog was getting the last time I checked it, I don't think it would take that long to approve the comments on the weekend. Say have one writer check and approve the comments on Saturday sometime. That should take no more than 15 mins, tops. More than likely it could be done in 5 mins. I'm all for work/play balances and giving workers time off on the weekend, but we are talking about investing 5-15 mins on a Saturday. I don't think that's too much to ask to help grow your blog. Also, enabling the capcha word-verfication feature for comments should eliminate almost all of the spam comments. Thanks for commenting Bryan, and thanks for letting me know that you had!

  • by Bryan Person, Monster Blogger Fri Jul 13, 2007 via blog

    Good follow-up points, Mack. I'll bring up the first with the other bloggers at our Monday meeting. It's certainly a reasonable suggestion. As to the second, captcha still doesn't solve the problem of the occasional obscene or potentially libelous comment from a new commenter that we may not be able to allow onto the blog. I'd like to see Typepad implement some more options for comment moderation.

  • by Ann Handley Sat Jul 14, 2007 via blog

    Bryan -- Do you really see many obscene or libelous comments from readers? I can't say I've encountered many of that ilk here at the MarketingProfs blog -- but I appreciate that the Monster blog has a different audience and focus. I'm curious not so much in the context of comments.. but because I hear this fear voiced a lot from companies about why they don't blog to begin with, so I'm wondering what your experience has been.

  • by Mack Collier Sat Jul 14, 2007 via blog

    Great point Ann, I would be interested in more info on the frequency of these libelous or profane comments as well.

  • by Ryck Lent Mon Jul 16, 2007 via blog

    As another member of the Monster Blog team -- and one who monitors responses to the site in our message boards and feedback email links as well as the blog -- obscene or slanderous posts are a small percentage overall. Spamming is a particularly annoying problem in the blog -- it's much less of an issue on the other two platforms. But given the power of today's search engine and social tagging technologies, even a small number of inappropriate posts can have an outsized impact on public perceptions. I think this is especially true for sites with a large, general audience, such as Monster. So I don't blame companies for being wary. Imagine the mess if Whole Foods "Rahodeb" started posting comments to a blog on the Wild Oats site? Or vice versa? Comments to a niche blog are one thing; comments on a blog associated with a powerful brand do create some risk of compromising the brand value. Corporate blogs have to manage that risk as part of their overall communications strategy. That doesn't mean don't do a blog -- it does mean understanding the risks and benefits and how to minimize the former and maximize the latter. -RBL

  • by Bryan Person, Monster Blogger Mon Jul 16, 2007 via blog

    Ann and Mack: We don't get many obscene and libelous comments, but it doesn't take "many" to land us in hot water, just one. The bigger problem is obviously spam, and we get plenty of those messages. And while flipping on the captcha would eliminate most spam messages, there are certainly human spammers out there, too. I don't think any of this is an issue provided 1) We're up front in our comment policy about moderating comments 2) We're approving all non-spam/non-obscene/etc. comments in an efficient manner. And I'm working to make our comment policy a little clearer, thanks to suggestions generated in this post and subsequent comment stream.

  • by Bryan Person, Monster Blogger Mon Jul 16, 2007 via blog

    And you may not believe this, but Ryck and I *didn't* compare notes before sending our responses, although they're remarkably similar. I'm just seeing Ryck's words now. Great minds think alike, perhaps? :)

  • by Mack Collier Mon Jul 16, 2007 via blog

    Ryck and Bryan, thanks for commenting. I completely understand your wanting to monitor comments to weed out slanderous and/or ones containing profanity. I think you have to balance moderating to weed out such comments, with getting all the comments up in a timely manner. Perhaps a good compromise would be to have a nightly check during the week at say 8pm each night, then one on Saturday afternoon at 3pm(or whatever time). I would think all of this could be done in an hour tops, so you could even divide it up among 2-3 writers, so that no one has more than 30 mins added to their workload. But again, thanks for stopping by guys, I'll make note of this at The Viral Garden as well.

  • by Bryan Person, Monster Blogger Mon Jul 16, 2007 via blog

    Mack, you're right on with this suggestion. I'm leading the charge for us to come up with some kind of system to monitor blog comments during our nights and weekends.

  • by Krista Mon Aug 6, 2007 via blog

    Hi Mack, Good points. I realised that most people/readers of any blog would not post a comment unless explicitly asked to. This happens to me and my blogs too. Unless of course they are regular readers of the blog. I've often posted a comment or two if I get asked to, and that's something simple that we can all learn to do - engage our readers more.

  • by Adam Snider Tue Aug 7, 2007 via blog

    The blog post has great tips for corporate blogs, and I will likely use them all, as I am in the process of starting a blog for the company I work for (along with others in the company). I've also got some good information from the comments. Also, I agree with Lewis about sending individual emails to commentators. It is time consuming, and may not be possible for a lot of businesses to do, but if you have the time for it, it's very much worth it. As someone who comments occasionally on Lewis's blog, I can attest to the fact that the emails are much appreciated, and definitely encourage me to keep leaving comments.

  • by Miranda Wed Nov 21, 2007 via blog

    Hi, I appreciate all that was said in this post and the comments thread. My personal blog, and our business/band blog are done via wordpress, and I plan to go to see if we have the autu-aprove comments for previous commenters turned on. When considering the option of using captcha image varifyers, please keep in mind those of us without sight who can not varify those images. We moderate our comments, and I read the comments caught by the spam filter. I have only found 1 non-spam comment in that filter. Again, I appreciate all said, and I wish all of you a Happy Thanksgiving holiday if you live in the United States! Miranda

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