If you’re struggling to get business blog comments and interaction on your site, know that it is possible but it takes some effort. One of the reasons for that is that reading, for many people, is a passive activity. Unless you evoke a strong emotion or ask a question the reader has given a lot of thought to (or wants very desperately to be heard), most blog visitors simply X out before adding their ideas.
But blog comments are important because they indicate engagement and can help you develop a deeper relationship with your followers. If you build up a strong commenting community on your blog you may even be able to play on the fear of missing out for your audience. They’ll stop by every day to read posts and comments because they don’t want to miss the exchange.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can change those passive readers into a community of commenters:
No One Wants to Be First
No one wants to leave the first comment (unless you have an excruciatingly popular blog, in which case you wouldn’t be reading this). That’s why it’s sometimes necessary to “prime the pump.” If you share your own ideas in the comments or get a friend to do it, people are more likely to ring in.
Of course, having too many comments can also be a hindrance to discussion because readers of those comments will feel like everyone else has already made their point…but again, that’s not the topic of this article. We’re still looking to get commenters so we’ll press on…
Chose an Evocative Topic
If you write a bland article and follow it up with a bland call to comment, you likely won’t move those passive readers to action. You must evoke emotion. They need to either agree with you passionately or hate what you said. If you take up a strong side on a topic, consider “planting” someone in the comments (again, get that buddy to help out) supporting the other side. This will make people on both sides of the topic feel like they have a friend in the comments section.
Speaking of which…
Kill the Trolls
Very few people enjoy being belittled. If you have a community of trolls and “haters,” some commenters will avoid sharing their thoughts in fear they will be made fun of or chastised. It’s hard for a lot of people to publicly state their opinions. That takes courage to expose yourself intellectually. If there’s an environment that is not conducive to healthy discourse, people won’t share their thoughts on the topic.
Work on Getting Found
You can do everything above but if people aren’t reading your emotionally-charged, well-written works of art, there’s no one around to comment (except that poor buddy who agreed to be your conversation starter). You must get traffic to your blog in order to build a healthy community of commenting.
Respond and Keep the Conversation Going
It may be hard to believe but some people are enamored of you (in a business sense). They long to connect with you. They read everything you write but may be a little hesitant to join the conversation. However, if they see you replying to other posters’ comments and they want to engage with you, they may be coaxed into posting.
If somebody posts and gives you a compliment, don’t merely say thank you. Look for ways to engage them in further conversation. Think of posts as a tennis game. You want to return the volley. Ask the poster’s opinion, give them a compliment, visit their site or social media profile and compliment something you see there. Best of all, comment on one of their posts (if they have one).
Finally, if you’ve tried everything and people just aren’t commenting, try a different medium. You can turn off the comments on your blog and take the discussion to a Facebook group or page, LinkedIn, or anywhere else your ideal audience resides. Simply share your blog URL on the site and then ask your audience what they think of the post. Fanning the flames of conversation sometimes means bringing the conversation to a place where people are already conversing instead of trying to build it all out yourself.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.