ID-100149631

5 Reasons Blog Comments Are Still Important

ID-100149631Whither the blog comment? Recently, popular blog Copyblogger announced they were removing the comment section from their blog, and encouraged readers to instead write their own posts in response, or comment on Google+ and Twitter. Mark Schaefer shared his thoughts on the probable motivations for this decision in an excellent post on the {grow] blog (hint: it’s about inbound links), and in the comments on Mark’s post, Jay Baer says he’s planning to follow suit soon on Convince and Convert. Is this part of a broader move away from comments, and what does it mean for those with more modest readerships?

The environment for blog comments has changed

The comment conundrum emerged as a topic years ago, as bloggers struggled with the ever-more fragmenting conversation thanks to the increased popularity of social media networks. Almost across the board, traditional blogs using traditional commenting systems saw the number of comments on the blog itself go down. Long a yardstick by which a blog’s popularity was measured (and a very public one, at that), the number of comments started losing steam as a competitive metric.

Meanwhile some sites, especially those using commenting system Livefyre, fostered a non-traditional, chat-style atmosphere in their comment section. Pulling in and including posts from the social networks, and with comment sections often peppered with entries like “haha!” or “you got me on that one” – all of which are included in the comment total tally – the number of comments on a blog became less meaningful as a sign of popularity.

Anyone who creates content struggles with how to allocate our finite amount of time, and responding to blog comments does take time. In the changing environment many bloggers asked themselves, do blog comments even matter anymore? Are they worth pursuing and encouraging?

Why blog comments are important

Every blogger or blog team is free to make their own decisions, of course. But there are some important reasons to allow comments on your blog:

1. Foster community on a platform you own
We do not own our presence on social networks and other outposts (for those who resisted this idea previously, Facebook’s continual squashing of brand page posts has hopefully hit it home). Your website and/or your blog should be your central home base of activity – why wouldn’t you want your community to be able to participate there?

2. Community contributions make your post better
You might not realize it reading some of the blogs out there, but no one knows absolutely everything about a given subject. Additional tips and advice from the Solo PR Pro community make the posts here on this blog much more useful for future readers. Even if you look at comments solely from a “what’s in it for me?” standpoint, the added information they provide will help drive traffic to your blog.

3. Discourse makes us stronger
On occasion, some readers will disagree with your post. This forces you to defend yourself, which can be time-consuming, but this is part of the discourse that makes the two-way communications of our newly-social world so exciting. Fostering an open dialogue of ideas is part of the contribution a blog makes to its industry (and in some cases, the world).

Finnerud_dancing4. Dance with who brung ya
Whether you’re a company, a consultant, a thought leader or just starting out, in most cases those who comment regularly on your blog will be your most ardent supporters. Those who “knew you when” are the most likely to be there for you when your time as flavor-of-the-month is over.

5. Respect those who took time to read your post
For years, people have accused Seth Godin’s blog of not actually being a blog, because he doesn’t allow comments (and hasn’t from the beginning – making him a sort of trailblazer in light of these recent announcements, I suppose). Most of the early criticism painted him as arrogant for not welcoming feedback.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I will say that listening to what my readers have to say feels like the least I can do. With so much information out there competing for our limited attention, I’m grateful that people chose to spend some of their valuable time reading Solo PR Pro – and if they feel moved enough to want to share their own thoughts on a post topic, why would I deny them that?

Often, the most commented on posts are not the most widely read, or the ones that mean the most to your readership (posts that are opinion-based generate more comments than those that are factual how-tos, for example). But they are typically the posts that foster a sense of community around your blog, which generates repeat visitors and encourages readers to stick around and read more.

What do you think about the recent move by Copyblogger? If you have a blog, what’s your stance on comments? Share your thoughts in the comments (yes, the comments! J).

Image credits: Morten Rask (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. lado on Freedigitalphotos.net

  • I have to agree with you here, but I guess I am old school, and I knew you when!

  • Agree, This, agree, ITA, Word. Saving this for later; I blogged about Mark’s (and Gini Ditriech and Marcus Sheridan) reaction to closing comments. With a threat to blog about it more later, hence the saving. I’m an old fuddy duddy; blog = comments; no comments = regular column or media outlet.

    I get it. It’s work, there are limited returns. When you’re a major name or big media, you’re nailed by trolls and stupidity and pointlessness. (I.E. Yahoo!News) Truth be told though, in a world of a gazillion blogs, that’s not a problem most people, most brands have. And if they’re terrified of one disagreement or one negative comment, forget blogging; they need to rethink their whole business strategy and get on that like pronto. FWIW.

  • Thanks, Kami – you most certainly did!

  • Great point- it’s the old idea that people are still talking about you, whether you participate in the conversation or not. If you encourage that dialogue to take place on your site via your blog, you can address the concerns directly in a controlled environment.

  • thanks!