You Haz No Blog Comments? Here’s the Fix!

by on 10/23/2009 • 33 Comments | Blogging

no blog commentsBlog comments are one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. Nothing beats the rush I get watching my inbox fill up after I published a new post. I’m sure nonbloggers find satisfaction from other things like “human contact” and “socializing” and “beer”, but we don’t need any of that! Just engaged readers. Blog comments aren’t all about ego, though (I swear). They’re an important health indicator for your blog. It shows that you’ve found an audience, that you’re connecting with people, and that your readers like what you’re putting out.

But what happens if you’re not seeing that health indicator? And instead, your blog is mute? Here are seven reasons your blog isn’t receiving comments and how you can fix it.

You don’t interact with commenters

Responding to every blog comment that comes in is sometimes difficult when things get busy, however, NOT responding to folks (especially new commenters) is a great way to ensure that they never comment again. It takes time to think up that clever comment, type it all out, and then hit send. People want to know that they’re being heard. They want to engage and talk to you. If you’re not doing them justice by responding back, they’re not going to make the investment the second time around. There’s nothing sadder than a comment thread filled with people asking the author questions…and the author completely ignoring it. Don’t be “that” guy.

How to fix it: Stop ignoring and start talking to your audience. Though some say I need to grow up a little for this, but I think your blog’s strength is formed by the community around it. You need your army. Responding to people is a lot of work, but so is building a strong brand and community. Buck up, soldier.

No one wants to be first.

It’s scary to walk into a party alone. We’d rather sit in our car and wait for a familiar face to show up. Blog comments work the same way, especially if someone wants to share an opposing viewpoint.  It’s difficult to get people to comment on your blog when all the posts around it are sporting 0s and 1s.  We want to hang out where the people are. Social Proof tells us that blogs with comments will continue to get more comments. Blogs where people can hear themselves echo…not so much.  It’s too scary.

How to Fix It: Seed comments to get the ball rolling. Back in August, Darren Rowse shared how secret blogging alliances can help people grow their communities. There’s truth (and strength) in numbers.

Fist punchingYou make me register first

There’s nothing more frustrating than reading something great in your RSS reader, clicking through amped to comment…and then being told you have to register first. Not only is it ANNOYING and unnecessary, but you’ve also taken away my instant gratification. I understand that people do this to help combat spam and jerks, but more often than not you’re throwing a hurdle in front of me that I’m not willing to cross. I’ll just leave and tweet my response instead.

How to fix it: Get rid of the registration process and make it absolutely simple to engage in your community. Find another way to test people’s humanness. I should not have to become a member of anything to leave a comment on your blog.

Your blog isn’t passionate and borders between press release and informercial

Sorry, your blog is just plain broken.

How to fix it: Unbreak my heart. Unbreak your blog and learn how to get naked. It’s feels so good.

You know everything and don’t seem interested in me

One of my earliest blogging lessons came from listening to Lorelle VanFossen at WordCamp San Francisco a few years ago. She told me (and a room full of people) not to give people everything. Don’t offer up the 100 SEO Secrets of All Time. Give 20 and let your readers add the rest. Let them become part of the story and add their own value. Sure, it’s great that you’re a bundle of knowledge, but sometimes it’s about being part of a team and asking everyone else to share their own stories.

How to fix it: Don’t be a know-it-all. Ask your readers questions and encourage lurkers to stop being creepy (don’t actually *call* them creepy, though) and join in the conversation. Sometimes people just need an invitation even though you think you made it obvious. For example, I can’t just tell Rhea I’m going to Flavour Café to work for the day and expect her to know that’s an invitation to come along. I have to actually invite her. Holy drama for months as I figured this one out. :p

You act like an arrogant…island

island

A good way to turn people off and ensure they never comment on your blog is to display how much better than them you are by never acknowledging what THEY’RE doing. You just keep hanging out on your blog, talking to yourself (and about yourself) on Twitter and letting them find for themselves. I mean, who needs them anyway?

How to fix it: You do! Get off your island and interact like an adult. Leave comments on other blogs, link out to good people, comment on community message boards and promote those that are worthy of promoting. It helps raise your Internet karma and lets other people know that you’re alive and interested in them. People like other people who are interested in them. It’s human nature. Humans are vain. If you comment on their blog, they will very often follow you back and comment on yours. Get the conversation rolling.

Your community scares me

Frankly, some Web communities are scary. Not in the porn or freak of nature sense, but in the way that high school was scary. No one likes cliques. No one wants to enter an environment where new comers are not allowed, where independent thought is chastised and where you can’t trust the blog owners to moderate the conversation and keep everyone in line. If no one is commenting on your blog, perhaps it’s because you haven’t made it safe to do so.

How to fix it: You need to protect your blog from jerks and asshats by setting some ground rules. If you notice that your regular commenters have formed into a clique that bullies those with differing opinions, you need to get in there and kick some butt. It’s still your house and you need to be the one to control it. You set the tone that everyone else has to follow. People comment in communities that are warm and inviting, not where they have to show up in full battle gear.

Obviously, there are other reasons people aren’t commenting. What makes you comment or NOT comment on someone’s blog? What have you noticed about the comments on your own blog?

Share this post

About the Author

Lisa Barone

Lisa Barone co-founded Outspoken Media in 2009 and served as Chief Branding Officer until April 2012.

Get social with Lisa at Twitter

33 thoughts on “You Haz No Blog Comments? Here’s the Fix!

  1. Lisa,
    You are right about the “joy” of receiving comments and the responsibility of the blogger to reach out to thank and engage with readers who take the time to leave a message or share their thoughts.

  2. George: You’re obviously far more daring than I. I wait til everyone has assured me the water’s warm! :p

    Ric: Absolutely. It also helps foster a better blog conversations. The comments are typically my favorite parts of blogs – whether its my blog or someone else’s.

  3. Other than the registration (which I flat-out won’t do), the main thing that prevents me from commenting is the content itself. If I don’t feel I have anything to contribute, I won’t. The “great post!” comment without any substance is boring and a waste of time.

    Other times, if the post is incredibly biased in some way, I’m less likely to comment because the writer has shown they aren’t much interested in other opinions. I’m not an echo box.

  4. Lynn: Thanks! It’s no fun being the only one in a relationships. If people are giving you something, I think its only fair to do your best to give it back.

    Matt: Aw, I hate when people making smartass comments are foiled. :p

    Norcross: That’s fair. I don’t leave “great post” comments either. I feel like if the author has framed the post the right way, there’s usually more to say than “great post”, anyway. I think those kind of comments come when someone has broken Lorelle’s rule about blogging and given you absoultely EVERYTHING there is to say.

    Jack: You couldn’t tell, but I just rolled my eyes at you. You have far more than 10 people reading your blog. :)

  5. Lisa – thanks for all the great tips. I know I am terrible at everything on the list and hope to win the Most Improved certificate some day.

    @Jack know how you feel buddy. But, oh the feeling when that 1 comment does roll in – happy happy joy joy!

  6. This is a great (and timely) post! A few of my alliance partners and I were just discussing this topic and blogging in general. My blog is different, in that I mostly share my work rather than spark a discussion of social commentary and debate, but it would be fabulous to hear what people think of what they see. I will be sharing this post with my network…since I am trying to encourage them all to blog. Thanks, Lisa! PS – Sorry for the run-on sentences.

  7. Exactly Lisa. The comments and the reaction just help. Everyone sharing their point of view makes us more knowledgeable in a given topic.
    Keep the good work young lady

  8. I have found that being polite and exhibiting nice social skills is a key to getting blog comments. As you mentioned, responding to a commenter is almost a guaranteed way to make them feel welcome.

    I think using a plugin like Subscribe to Comments is also a good way to notify those who have left a comment about new comments moving forward. It’s a convenient way for the site visitor to stop back by when s/he realizes there are further comments.

    In reality, getting comments is the easy part. Getting traffic, now that’s another story altogether.

  9. Matthew: If you were as bad as you think, you wouldn’t realize how bad you are. (er, does that make sense?) The fact that you’re tuned in means you probably have a good handle on what you need to be doing.

    Marnie: I think it’s awesome that you have a blogging alliance. I guess I’ve had that unofficially in the SEO space, but it’d be neat to have a group of people who you meet with all the time to talk about stuff. I think that’s really awesome!

    David: Being polite, you say? I’ll have to try that sometime. :p Good advice on the plugin. I want to beef up some of the plugins we’re running on the Outspoken blog to make it easier for people to stay in the loop. Thanks for commenting!

  10. Totally agree with the post. I’d also like to add this:

    You won’t get many comments if you are writing in Harvard level English. The last thing I want to do is keep a dictionary in hand and read your blog post. So write the post in plain English (just the way this post is written, simple and easy to read). Some people who read your blog might not have English as their primary language. The best thing you can do is write in a manner everyone can understand.

    Great points, Lisa.

  11. As I’ve commented in the past in this location, Lisa, it is silly for me to comment on blogs like yours when you offer zero options for me to read follow-up comments by email or RSS. I prefer email; I suggest both.

    What’s the purpose in asking people to comment if you don’t give them a means to read other people’s comments including any replies?

    But what do I know. Maybe you will reply and someone else will tell me so.

  12. Lisa,

    Great advice. I realized a days back that I was commenting on blogs and even getting comments on mine, but I wasn’t interacting with my commenters. That alone helped increase the string of comments from 5 to about 10. Enjoying your blog and your advice alot :).

  13. Kenny: One of these days, Kenny. One of these days.

    Ramkarthik: That’s actually a great point. Being warm and conversational really helps people to feel like they already know you and like you’re talking with them, instead of AT them. I’m far more likely to comment on a blog where I feel a connection to the writer/community than where I’m just beng lectured at so someone can show off their fancy vocabulary. Thanks for adding that! :)

    Ari: I know, I agree, and I’m sorry it’s taken so long. It’s on the list of things to do and hopefully it’ll be up sooner than later. I’d like for there to be a way for people to get notifications, as well.

    Srinivas: Thanks, dude. Huge fan of your blog (as I think you know!). :)

  14. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks, I agree with all your points, although I long for the day on my own blog where people disagree!! That is one of the things I do notice on my own blog, that I get mostly approval comments. There are one or two brave souls who dare to differ, but I would like more. Perhaps I need to learn to be more contentious!

    I don’t leave comments that don’t add any value, and I also tend not to leave comments where there are a few hundred, and the discussion goes on for the sake of being heard by others, not the sake of the initial blog!

    I love the way you write, from the heart, clear and direct.

  15. Lisa,

    Great points, acknowledging commenter is great habit. It’s a simple way to appreciate commentators for their time to write— sharing their thoughts, experiences and emotions. Do not ignore those strangers, comments are not just groups of words, those are reflections of people’s view over your piece. Some suck but others convey sincere ideas and personal viewpoints.

  16. Good information, and I’m willing to be that some of us fall into more than 1 category at some point. It can be tough to maintain a healthy balance of providing value without sounding selfish. Sometimes, I just get excited and go past the point of repair :)

  17. You have some great points here. I try to set aside at least an hour a day and surf around blogs. As a matter of fact http://seo.alltop.com/ is where I found this post. Nothing worst than a self indulgent blog. My question is how do you get people to connect if you are not known in this country? There is a click and that is undeniable. That’s not to say we are not willing to pay our dues but most of the people that do have loads of followers have established a great base, whether with their great content or “link” bait. What I have found rewarding is finding the smaller blogs and promoting them. Again Lisa thanks for your great insight and post.

  18. On cross-commenting:
    I read the message here is to create a blog mafia, with the output of trying to make it seem as if your blog is more interesting than it might be. What are the true motivations behind the blog mafia, are they altruistic, or does the alliance simply serve the individual interests under the auspices of community? Let’s be clear about this.

    I guess if you are measuring subscribers as an indicator of success then this is a valid strategy. I guess it comes down to what you’re writing your blog for. If you’re looking to maximize subscribers then there are a good list of strategies here that you document.

    However, some people [like me] write a blog just to get the information out into the ether, to make a difference in this way. I do care about my subscribers but I’m not out to make new friends for the sake of it. Sometimes I read posts that are just screaming “I need to be loved”, or the homophily syndrome of web 2.00.

    Good content should stand on its own too feet, but there’s lots of cr** content at the top of search so what can you do! These strategies, while valid, I feel are more to do with a lack of capacity to properly exploit the existing mechanisms, search and social media. Basically my message to blogmasters that want to get on with the web is to get right down in the trenches and learn SEO/SMM.

    As not every blogger can make their blog appear on the first page of Google, alternative “strategies” need to be employed. Search isn’t the only delivery mechanism, so there are many ways to build traffic aside from this.

    To make a blog effective it needs to be positioned within the circles where it would natually generate interest. I personally get bored of themes that get banded around the SEO blogs in almost cyclic fashion. I subscribe to this one for it’s “pub” and comedy feel. Other blogs, including this one sometimes, suffer from the everyone is trying to jump on everyone else’s bandwagon syndrome, with little by way of clarification of the relationships between bloggers about why a guest post is a being shown as a guest post.

    In summary then:
    It sucks, but I’m not going to try and change it because there are plenty of other things that need to be talked about first.

    I’m sure I come across as an Island, but I’m just a simple communicator navigating the seas.

    Thanks for the post.

    ps. I could have said “I commented about this on my blog” and just done this as a post. But that would suck too.

  19. I’ve toyed with the idea of seeding my blog with comments (and even having a few buddies help on that front), but I question the authenticity of it all. There is a part of me that hates to have to take that step – even if the blog is a new one that just needs a little help to get going. Seems like if the content is good enough, the comments should be there. It’s like using barbecue sauce on grilled chicken…I like it and it makes me happy, but I always feel like I’m doing it because the chicken just wasn’t that good in the first place…

  20. Sharon: Oh, I agree. Commenters from people who think completely differently from you are where some of the best stuff comes from. But to get that you (a) have to take really hard stands either way and (b) you need to create an environment where people feel safe doing that. I think a lot of times we mute the comments we receive because we’re too afraid to upset people so we add in lots of qualifiers and also, people are afraid that if they disagree, people will attack them. It’s a constant fight.

    Alex: Agreed. Thanks. :)

    Nathan: Yeahk it’s a fine line between value and “Hey, so I just wrote a post on this SAME TOPIC [link]” :p

    DAS: Oh god, me too. I think there’s only one blog where I’ve actually registered just to leave a comment and that was because I really liked the guy. Don’t make me register. I’m really not that invested in you yet.

    Gabriella: I think promoting smaller bloggers is a great way to get noticed and to form a little blog alliance like was mentioned in the post. People are stronger in numbers. If you can create a little team that helps one another with promotion and getting conversations started, it can be really, really powerful.

    Yawn, Penny: I don’t think the blog alliances are meant to give the allusion that the content is more interesting than it is. I think it’s about helping to get the ball rolling and helping the important conversations get started. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, personally. If the content sucks, then you’re never going to get more than those 3-4 people in your alliance commenting. But sometimes people are afraid to comment on empty blogs. Showing them that there is life here is sometimes a good way to pull them out and get people talking.

  21. It’s probably the way you phrased it. All the non-verbal stuff that we loose when we go online can make a complete mess of 1-2-1 communication.

    I also think there must be ways you can encourage people to write comments, without having people seed them for you.

  22. If the post is incredibly biased in some way, I’m less likely to comment because the writer has shown they aren’t much interested in other opinions.

  23. The info about blogs that aren’t passionate and border on press release/infomercial captured my attention, because that is a great point that I NEVER hear. Everyone always says, “be informational. Provide top 10 lists. Write how-to’s.” Well, there are only so many top 10s and how-to’s a person can write, right? From now on, I think I’ll start writing with a little more passion and opinions–that’s a great tip!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Comments links could be nofollow free.