One of the best ways to gauge the health of your blog readership is to check out how many comments you have for your posts. More comments mean that your readers are actively engaged in what you have to say. Such positive engagement between the readers and yourself creates a lively community that sustains readership and attracts more visitors to your blog.
Not getting the amount of comments that you would like to have? Don’t worry; it may not have anything to do with the content you’re providing. You may be providing quality content and information to readers, but not sufficiently stimulating them to provide inputs to your posts.
Here are a few ways to get your readers more involved before you scrutinize your content for any potential flaws. Full list after jump.
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1. End with a Question
Sometimes readers don’t know what to comment about. Posting a question about your post will give them an anchor point to what they can talk about. Intuitively speaking, we should place that question right at the end of the post. If your reader has read from the beginning to the end and got to that point, chances are that he or she is interested in what you’ve written. The reader will be pretty motivated to answer your question.
One thing to note is that your question should be as general as possible, unless you want to direct the discussion to a specific point. A general question allows for more freedom in their comments, so that your readers don’t feel constrained and choose not to comment in the end.
2. Ask for Contributions
Another way you can ask for more comments is to get them to contribute to your seemingly incomplete post. This is especially applicable to posts where you organized your content in the form of a numbered list (just like this one). Now, the trick here is to ask your readers to add on to the list. Make them feel that they are contributing to the article by merely commenting their opinion.
A better way will be to end your numbered list abruptly so that it appears to the readers that you need their help to complete the post. Say, for example, you end the list at #9. It seems a little odd (no pun intended) to stop there right? So, you appeal to your readers to help you think of that #10 tip and post it in the comment box.
3. Reply to Comments Promptly
Basic courtesy dictates that when someone gives a certain feedback about one’s work, one should, at the very least, thank him or her. If your reader has a question posed to you, all the more you should answer promptly. This will let your reader feel that his or her comments matter, and that he or she isn’t talking to him or herself.
If you take too long to respond, the reader might have already forgotten about it and take it that there’s no point commenting on your blog posts. The issue here is that these comments are addressed to you, so no one else but you yourself has to reply to it before the reader feels ignored.
4. Reward Insightful Comments
Simply replying when being commented on isn’t enough; sometimes you need a carrot to motivate them to type out what they think. It can be any forms of reward: a contest for the best comment posted, prizes for answering correctly a question posed, or perhaps the promise of writing the next post based on the most interesting comment.
But these are pretty straightforward and overt ways of rewarding commenters, which may come across to some readers as ‘trying too hard’ and put them off.
Well, another perhaps even more effective way is to capitalize on our need for social approval. Making your commenters feel special for posting an insightful comment is a great incentive. They get rewarded with recognition and attention. A perfect example will be that of Facebook’s trademark ‘Like’ button. One reason why we post all those funny and intriguing statuses is probably because we secretly love our friends liking them. Go search around for some plugins that function the same way as the ‘Like’ button for your blog comments.
5. Reduce Barriers to Commenting
Is there anything that might be hindering your readers from posting comments? Do a check yourself and try to post something yourself. Does it go through smoothly? Also, is the comment box easily noticed once you enter the blog as a visitor?
The other thing to look out for is whether visitors to your blog need to register or log in before they can comment on your posts. If this is so, this might be the reason why you’re getting so few comments. Taking that extra step to register in order to comment can be a big turn-off for some readers, so they would rather hold their peace forever.
Make sure to put yourself in the shoe of the visitor or reader in order to know how easy or hard it is to comment.
6. Commenting on Posts in the Blog Community
If you want people to comment, then set a good example yourself! Comment in your own blog and other similar topic blogs in the community. Ensure that you give well thought out comments that relate to the topic in question instead of one-liner generic answers (e.g. “Great Post!”). This is especially so when you comment on other blogs and leave a link to your site. You want to attract readers and the bloggers to your blog and not let them mistaken your comment as a spam.
Providing valuable feedback to a blog entry is pretty much like doing an advertisement for your blog. If you want to garner more comments, one of the most straightforward ways is to improve traffic to your blog. Readers who stumble across those blogs can see what you’ve commented and click on your link to check out yours.
Also, implicitly speaking, the author of the blog whom you posted a comment may feel obliged to return the favor by commenting on your posts. This is particularly so when your comment really strikes a chord with him or her.
7. Shake Things Up a Little
The last point here has something to do with your content. A discussion arises when there is a common goal to work to (e.g. providing suggestion for that last tip in your numbered list) or when there are conflicting opinions. I’ve pretty much discussed the former in my #2 tip on asking readers for contribution. As for the latter, all you need to do is to make your content a little controversial or take sides with a particular opinion of yours.
A blog is more than a news site where you simply present the facts and leave the readers to their own judgments and thoughts. A blog consists of your opinions as well; otherwise there’s little the readers can comment about. These opinions and arguments which you present on your blog should be thought-provoking enough to let your reader react and respond to it, as if to defend their own opinions or even beliefs.
You may feel comfortable sitting on the fence with most of your entries because you don’t want a situation where you offend your readers. Sooner or later though, they may get bored with your lack of opinions. I guess the best way is to feel your way around what your target audience is like, and then adjust your content to the level acceptable to most of them.