Much of the learning on your blog happens with the rich interactions in the comments section. And the more comments, the more readers and subscribers you get.
When it comes to blog comments—and user participation online in general— researcher Jakob Nielsen found something called the 90-9-1 rule.
On average, 90 percent of your blog’s readers will never comment on a blog post (he calls them “consumers”). 9 percent will comment from time to time (called “contributors”). And only 1 percent will regularly leave a thoughtful response that adds to the value of your post (the “creators”).
You could say that those are depressing statistics. Or you could decide that you are going to beat the law of averages by making your blog more comment-friendly.
Here are 10 ways to do that. How many are you using?
1. Make it easy to leave a comment.
If you make your readers copy letters and numbers they can’t read, you will lose some of them. And skip the register-to-comment thing. Because some readers won’t jump through that hoop.
2. Welcome opposing viewpoints.
Try writing an opinion or taking a controversial stand (if you can defend it). Readers on both sides of the issue will jump in and tell you what they think.
If you want your readers to speak up, ask them a question or two at the end of your post. If you don’t, they’ll think you just wanted to educate and inform them (which is fine, but it doesn’t encourage commenting).
4. Limit those outbound links.
I know you want to be helpful, but when you throw in 4 or 5 links to other great blog posts and articles, your reader gets confused. Do you want her to stay on your blog or leave? Consider limiting your links to one or two.
5. Respond to reader comments and invest in a good comment spam filter.
Your readers want to be recognized by something rather than that annoying, “Your comment is awaiting moderation” message. If you get a lot of spam, invest in a good filtering system. But don’t punish your readers for it.
6. Recognize that some readers don’t want to be the first one to leave a comment.
She doesn’t want to show up all by herself. She’s much more likely to chime in if other people are already talking. Nothing you can do about this one, except to know that those kinds of readers are out there.
7. Give your readers a reason to speak up.
Ask what they think, how they feel about an issue. Stir things up from time to time. If you can get them to think, they’ll be eager to leave a comment.
8. Lose the ‘trick’ headlines.
A sensational (read, deceitful) headline may pull readers into your post, but if you don’t deliver the promise your headline made, they won’t be sticking around. And they won’t be commenting.
9. Make everyone feel welcome.
If a reader doesn’t feel like she’s inside the circle, if certain people are always dominating the conversation in the comments, she won’t feel loved—and she will go away. Limit the back-and-forths with any one reader.
10. Touch readers’ emotions.
Your readers will speak up when you have made them feel something. In fact, you won’t be able to shut them up. Because you have touched a passion, a love, or an emotion.
How about you?
Have any of these worked for you?
Do you have others?