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

October 23, 2009
By Lisa Barone in Content Strategy

Blog 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.

You 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

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?

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