31 August 2010 By Northern Lights
This is perhaps the most surprising part for bloggers – you have to work just as hard at getting comments as writing the thing initially.
There are three key ingredients to generating blog comments: writing a blog that people find; keeping them reading once they have found it; making the blog engaging so that people want to comment.
Before we look at ways to do this, you also need to think who you want to be commenting and why
– there is a danger of this becoming a vanity thing! And you need to get the basics of your blog right
–you need about 25 posts on a blog before it starts being picked up by search engines.
Here are some tips that have worked for us
1. Write on topics that people are searching for
What have your customers set up Google Alerts for? Who are they following? What might journalists be searching on the web – hints and tips, topical comment that adds value to a debate, controversy, great opinions, insight on something no-one really understands.
Write your blog with phrases, questions and topical words or people’s names that will get you noticed on the web. Insert hyperlinks to bloggers or websites that are helpful – and you might want to engage with.
You will notice there is a link behind the word ‘hyperlink’ in the paragraph above. I searched for a good website to link to that would explain this. If you choose someone niche (ie not Wikipedia or Google) they may follow you and comment – if you then follow the rules below.
One of our early unsolicited comments was on a blog titled ‘Why aren’t there more women on UK boards?’. Kath from Where the Bright Women Are was looking for women to take part in their survey – so had found and commented on our blog with a link to her site. I then forwarded this on to a number of other women asking them to take part in Kath’s survey. Everyone is a winner!
2. Ask for comments
Sounds simple? Don’t miss the obvious! Email people who will be interested in your blog (clients, contacts) and say ‘you were talking about this topic the other day, thought the blog might be helpful. Would really appreciate your own thoughts – would you mind posting a comment?’
They will probably ask you for help another time in return – make sure you help them too!
In the case of the blog about women on boards, I also got into a conversation on this with a girlfriend Anne Watson who made some really interesting points. I then emailed her and said ‘please would you comment, I loved your views’ – and she did.
3. Make it easy to comment
If you sound like the expert and there is nothing more to say, it sort of closes the conversation? Write in a way to open up the dialogue – remember most people don’t go around looking for blogs to comment on. How can you make it easy and natural for them to do this?
– Ask questions
– Be controversial – so no matter how busy, someone wants to say that your view is tosh! Or how right you are. But do this carefully and sparingly – and it may not be right for you
– Mention what you have done that has not worked – it encourages others to offer help and ideas as to why not
– Ask for help
– Take a stand – this is slightly different from the controversy. I did this in a blog on whether we should go for the numbers game in social media. I know there are a lot of views both ways and mentioned people whom I respect who see the value of ‘numbers’. I emailed Steve Phillip so he knew what I’d said – out of courtesy – and this also encouraged him to come back and explain their own point in more detail
4. Use your communities
Another blog that generated speedy comments was a review I did of a social media conference. I wrote the blog late that night and emailed people I’d met that day, saying ‘good to meet you, here is my view of the conference, would welcome your views’.
I purposely wrote about some of the speakers with links – and some of them are now following us as a result.
I also said I thought I disagreed with one of the speakers, Thomas Power but wasn’t sure. That was the bit that got people responding.
I have to say I thought/hoped Thomas Power might comment but that bit didn’t work!
5. Predict trends
We took on six paid interns earlier this year and in just a few weeks got them up and running with their own blogs and generating comments.
I noticed that Shaheeb’s blog got a debate going about the future of newspapers and this provided a good seam for people to comment on – we asked speakers, clients and colleagues if they would support all our interns by commenting.
We’d love to hear which of your blogs has produced the best comments – and how you got them!
And here are some tips from the experts with their views on how to get comments on a blog
Seth Godin – how to get traffic for your blog
Problogger – 10 techniques to get more comments on your blog
Stepcase Lifehack – 31 proven ways to get more comments on your blog
Sitepoint – how to get more comments on your blog
Socialmediatoday – want more comments on your blog? Spend less time there