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The Current State of Blog Comments

We’ve been sharing our thoughts on where we see blog comments (or, as we prefer to call them, conversations) in the current business landscape over the past couple of years.

From posts about whether or not they offer any business value (both financial and insight), to posts about the long-term “survival” of comments themselves, it’s been interesting to see how these posts have been received.

While we firmly believe there is, and will remain, value in blog comments for more than “just” having something to say after a post, we know many people would say the opposite.

So here’s a little recap of what we’ve been discussing lately and some extra thoughts on the topic.

We’d love to hear your take after this post — in a comment, of course.

Blog Comments Add Business Value.

We’ve already shared success stories here about how our users are seeing a return on engagement when using Postmatic (not to mention monetary return), but how about comments in general?

How do we measure value, and for those with business goals for their blogs, gauge any financial outcome?

We looked at the first part of that question in our post Do Blog Comments Offer Any Business Value?

Value is much more than a dollar amount. Blog comments bring more to a business than adding to the bottom line. Insight into customer thinking, illuminating pain points, and how to better craft your content marketing can all be derived from comments. There’s much more to business value than money (although they’re not mutually exclusive).

For example:

  • A vibrant conversation can encourage brands to work with bloggers on sponsored posts/campaigns. You only need to Google “blog comments and influencer posts” to see how comments can encourage opportunities.
  • Businesses can get inside the minds of their customers through a blog comment (product defect, brand perception, buying signals, etc).

These are just two quick examples. You can also find advocates to share your blog, build up an affiliate network through regular commenters, and more.

I love this so much. I talk about this in the responsibility post of my Keys to Being Social series. An audience is a privilege, not a right. I cannot even tell you how many times I’ve written a well-thought out comment, only for it to be totally ignored. And then I wondered why I bothered to comment instead of write a post on my own web property. It’s lame at best. Damaging to their content strategy at worst. Thanks for this post, Jason.

Bridget
From the comments
Blog comments offer so much more value than just being an afterthought.Click To Tweet

And that’s not even diving into the loyalty aspect of responding and engaging in a conversation with your visitors.

Let’s Call Blog Comments Conversations

One of the topics we’ve been diving into a lot over the last few months is around the re-languaging the term “comments.” Reframing comments in the context of a conversation changes everything.

Blog comments are a conversations. Unless the content author ignores the comments and leaves his content as one-way thoughts, a comment is the start of a conversation; but that’s another discussion.

Public Relations Pro Gini Dietrich once stated (and we’re paraphrasing a little here), “You know you’ve built a great community when you no longer need to be there to nourish it.”

Gini’s takeaway is simple – a great community doesn’t need its “leader” to thrive. Conversations will continue normally, between other members of the community.

This ties in perfectly to our line of thinking and main goal. Building conversations and relationships through respectful, organic, and healthy dialogue.

Respectful, organic, and healthy dialogs are built through conversations which happen in blog comments.Click To Tweet

We took a look at our goal, and why we believe that comments should be renamed to conversations to remove the negative connotations around the words “blog comments” on our post Can We Stop Calling It Blog Commenting Now?

You Have to Give to Get

In our post, If You Want Better Comments, You Have to Care About Your Commenters, we discussed both protecting and nurturing your community of commenters. The comment area should be a safe place for conversations — it’s the blogger’s responsibility.

We shared an example of a leading content creator who’s left his comment area a hotbed of spammy and questionable links. Now, if you were a new visitor to his blog, and you saw all that crud in the comments, of course you wouldn’t comment. Why even bother?

Some bloggers think that they’re owed a comment, but that’s not true either. It takes work to build a community. Nurturing your audience is an act of hospitality, as commenter Peter alluded to in his comment on that post. .

“The difference is in lazy blogging and active blogging, there is also the long view and short view.

Too many bloggers expect people to comment because they posted and that is lazy. You don’t get that privilege until you are famous and a vast majority of people value your opinion (think Matt Mullenweg’s blog).

That is when it is okay to post and let your people chatter amongst themselves. When you aren’t famous, you’ve got to mingle and use that as an opportunity to lead, and position yourself as an expert on whatever it is you are writing about.

As you said, serving the wine and chatting people up.” Peter

You’d think this would be second nature, but it’s not the norm. You’d be surprised and possibly disappointed with how many content creators miss this simple yet vital fact.

Show the same respect your commenters give you by reading and responding.Click To Tweet

Want more comments? Start as you mean to go on and show the same respect your commenters give you by reading and commenting on your content, as opposed to someone else’s.

Slack’s Recognition of Comments

One of the internal communication tools we use at Postmatic, Slack, keeps teams together while working on projects.

Ironically, it was also hailed as “an email killer” which – given our product – might make you think we wouldn’t want anything to do with it. Not so fast! 🙂

They realized the value of true conversations, which is why they brought threaded comments to their platform, too.

Bloggers and content creators have utilized threaded comments for, oh, a long time now. So it’s cool to see newer tech catch up traditional human behavior.

Regardless of the tools we use in life, storytelling, or business, human behavior remains the same. We like threaded comments. We thrive on conversations. It comes through in music (think call and response), in live performances we want applause, in everything — we want a reaction and approval — or at least discussion. On websites, that happens in the comments section.

Comments & Conversations – We’re All One Happy Family

No matter how many times we hear people proclaim that “comments are dead,” we still see them, thriving, adding value, and sharing knowledge.

Comments may be dead to the marketers who do nothing but tweet all day or the bloggers who want to be a single voice versus a conversationalist. But for everybody else, us included, they’re a vibrant and collaborative piece of the content puzzle.

As you can see from the posts included above, they’re not going anywhere fast.

And that’s alright by us.

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