One of the keys to a blog’s success is engagement. If not many of your posts are interesting or insightful enough that people are driven to like, tweet or share them, your blog doesn’t have much of a future ahead of it. And commenting is one of the best indicators of engagement. A lot of comments will agree with your point of view, and there will be those that don’t, and of course there are those that introduce new opinions that expand the discussion further.
Regardless of the comments, they serve to engage even more readers, which is why you want people to care enough to comment more. But how do you get them to? Here are a few tips you can try.
Pick a Side and Stick to It
Neutral content is safe. It provides the information your readers want while making sure your opinions don’t piss them off. It also ensures a better relationship with any companies whose products or services you review. However, according to Ryan Lee on Entrepreneur.com:
Boring content will always get you zero comments. You should take a stand on your blog. Don’t be afraid to put out content that might shake things up in your industry a bit. Don’t be boring and vanilla. Draw a line in the sand: ‘Here’s where I stand. This is what I believe.’ Then ask readers: ‘Do you agree?
Those who agree with your point of view will typically become your most consistent commenters and tend to stay around your blog more. And if you’re able to write tactfully, those who don’t agree with you will still engage you in healthy arguments in the comments.
Respond to Comments
A lot of comments tend to be questions to the author (you), while other times, readers are simply expressing their thoughts. Either way, they are great opportunities to engage with your readers. This should be a no-brainer, but it becomes increasingly more difficult the larger the blog. According to Seth Simonds on Lifehack.org:
Responding to remarks on your own blog lets readers know that you are truly listening and care about what they have to say. Obviously, that will often lead to more comments and repeat visits. (Don’t look to “A-listers”-especially in social media-for examples of good behavior when it comes to comments. They’re busy doing other things.)
As time goes on, comments will increase to a point where there is a community of readers who interact with each other, much as you interacted with them. But until you reach that critical mass, keep trying to reply to every comment that you can. Of course, that doesn’t mean that you should just stop commenting altogether once there are enough commenters to keep the comments section going. At least try to chime in every once in a while and let your readers know you still care.
Eliminate as Many Barriers to Commenting as You Can
In addition to whatever default comment system you have on your blog, there are a number of third party comment systems that you can also try out. However, make sure you choose wisely as some of them can actually serve as barriers to readers who just want to type out a quick comment. David Risley of BlogMarketingAcademy.com has a few recommendations:
Whatever you can do to grease the line and make it super-easy to post, it will help. Also, you can test out different visual ways to draw people in to post a comment. For example, most blogs have the form for posting a comment way down at the bottom. Try putting it at the top. You could even couple it with a call to action and an arrow which points right to the comment form. This will make it much easier and more obvious, rather than hoping they know to scroll down the page to find your comment form. You can also test different colors on the comment form to draw the eyes in. Different submit buttons for the comment, perhaps different background colors on the form fields, etc.
One of my favorite commenting platforms is Disqus because it allows for logins from different social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. It will make potential commenters less inclined to hide behind anonymity and put a name to their thoughts.
Ask a Question Every Now and Then
Once you’ve reached critical mass and have a commenting community that actively interacts with each other, you can generate a lot more comments by making a post that asks a question. Ryan Lee says:
You’d be amazed how many comments you can get from a post like this. And if they reply once, there’s a much better chance they will keep replying. Some people just need a little nudge to write that first comment.
You can try asking your audience what kind of articles they would like you to feature, what they would like you to write about, who you could interview, or even ask them what their favorite gadget is. Even if your readers aren’t that active, this might be just the push they were waiting for.
Accept a Guest Post from Someone with a Sizable Social Following
If your comment community isn’t as large as you’d like and doesn’t generate as many comments, why not harness someone else’s community? You can ask a popular personality to make a guest post and watch the magic happen. According to Seth:
If you can find somebody with a great social network who doesn’t blog regularly, ask them to write a guest post for your blog. They’ll be excited about posting on a blog and push their entire network to read and comment on the article.
This kind of post can be especially powerful if that personality has never blogged before. Their audience will be especially hungry to read that “first post” on a new blog. They don’t even have to have that large of a following as long as they have a lot of followers who like to interact with them.