Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Lure of Blog Comments

Recently I've noticed a lot of chatter on twitter where online writers are asking: "How come people lurk on my blog and then don't leave comments." Or "I see traffic...why don't people have an opinion & participate in the discussion?" I've wondered the same thing at times & I'm sure there are many others who have shared those concerns at one point or another.

When you Google "blog comments", first on the list are paid results for "Buying Blog Comments".  Sounds pretty desperate - doesn't it? So what exactly is it that makes people crave the comments in the first place? Are comments generally a want or a need?

One idea comes from a psychology tip site which says: "feedback and reinforcement are two of the most pivotal concepts in learning. One of the critical variables in both cases is the length of time between the response and the feedback or reinforcement...the more immediate the feedback or reinforcement, the more learning is facilitated." In this context, comments would seem to satisfy an important need.

"Learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and response" - Basis from the Theory of Connectionism by Edward L. Thorndike

Brian Solis in "Engage"  says "the right comments boost visibility and contribute to a resume of experiences and prowess." This would lead us to believe that as a writer, we all are seeking validation and acceptance of what gifts we have to offer & the silence of the comment not made makes us question ourselves. In this instance I would view the comment as a definite want.

A great post title may draw your reader in, but is your content relevant to them at the point in time which you reach them? Is the post informative enough to hold their attention, evoke an emotional response, or move them to want to share what they've gleaned with others and interject their viewpoint into the conversation?

Aristotle linked his "Model of Communication" to the public speaker, someone who's job it is to deliver a specific message to an audience. The ultimate goal is to influence the audience & move them to respond or react. In this model it would seem the online writer would have some degree of control over whether or not their reading audience responded to a post, right?

More questions to ask yourself:
  • Are you creating a sense of community between your readers by sharing content relevant to a specific group of topics?
  • Is your tone & voice consistent?
  • Are you posing questions in your posts that people will feel obligated to respond to?
  • Do you legitimately feel everything you write is your best work & worthy of feedback? If not, then don't come to expect comments on every post.

In their own words, "BackType is a social analytics platform that helps companies understand their social impact." In "Engage", Solis talks about using tools like Backtype to track your post content & blog comments.  "Link to all channels of influence each and every time they share something of significance." These "trackbacks" which "inspired your posts" will build "tunnels between the blogs, allowing new readers to discover your content."

"Give them something to share. Give them reasons to respond." - 
Brian Solis in Engage

Chris Brogan & Seth Godin write often about the importance of frequent blog writing & sharing your gifts respectively. Their opinion is with each item you publish, the result should be a positive personal learning experience. If that's the case then the less we concern ourselves about the comments themselves, the freer we will become within the process.  The more we personally intend to get out of the writing exercise the better.  If someone chooses to respond & post a comment  - then that's nothing but fat-free, calorie-free gravy. So in an online writer's world, gravy is one of those things no one really ever needs, but once in a while we really do "want".

So are blog comments feeding an online writer's wants or needs? I'll leave that up to you to decide.


The Marketing Mama said...

I've learned through the years of blogging that comments aren't everything. Of course they vary for a number of reasons - the topic, writing style, time of day, day of week, degree of timeliness...

I've also found that using alternate methods of social media has fragmented the number of comments. Sometimes I'll get comments on facebook or twitter about a blog post, but not on a post itself.

The best part about comments is when someone tells me that a post helped them in some way.

Great post Monika! :)

ag.gray.gate said...

I leave comments because I love to receive them, do unto others I guess...and I am most definitely a comment whore ;)