Maybe there is something more fulfilling than getting a push notification to your email that yet another reader left a comment on your most recent post. If there is, most bloggers and online entrepreneurs don’t know what it is.
Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, and getting people to comment on politics, space travel, gutter heaters, or whatever it is you’re talking about is what creates dialogue, drives traffic, and increases revenue. Comments mean your readers are engaged, and they encourage even more people to comment on the comments, which is a self-perpetuating cycle of bliss for an online startup.
Follow this guide to get people talking.
Here is a sentence that will receive a comment: “Jaws is the best shark movie.” Here is a sentence that will receive five: “Is Jaws the best shark movie?”
While it’s natural to want to make definitive statements about your passions, opinions, and personal pursuits, somebody somewhere loves Sharknado – and they want to make their own definitive statement about that. The comments section of your blog or website is the perfect place to do that – if you leave your posts open-ended and invite dialogue.
Engage Your Commenters!
If you’re going to ask people to use your comments section for comments, criticism, or just a venue to chew the fat, you have to be willing to do likewise. In fact, you should want to.
As soon as you get the notification (yes, your comments notifications setting should be on!) that someone has left a comment, take the time to check it out and respond. Do it right away or run the risk of making your readers feel like their decision to engage you was met with the apathetic indifference of someone who has more important things to do.
Ignore the Haters
Keep in mind, a lot of people like to use the anonymity of the Internet as a forum to vent and be mean for no reason. Resist the urge to crawl into the sewer with them and get into a tit-for-tat argument. It’s a turn-off to your other readers who would rather have a compelling discussion. You’re not just the author, you’re the moderator, and as soon as your comment board turns into a seventh-grade playground, it’s going to be a very lonely comment board, indeed.
Acknowledge Your Commenters
A simple shout out on Twitter or Facebook can make a reader feel like part of a community – like a key player in a cool thing that has some buzz. Everyone likes to get that @mention on Twitter or a tag in a Facebook post. A simple “thanks to @Mr.SuperComment for the conversation on www.ShamelessPlug.com” not only lets your readers know you care, but gives you the chance to shamelessly plug your baby.
Your readers are the lifeblood of your blog, your website, or your online discussion board. Your comments section is where they can show their personalities, cheer you on, or yell at you for daring to disagree with something they believe. As long as it’s constructive, a comment is always a building block to more readership, more traffic, and more revenue. Cherish your commenters and keep them coming back.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about online business and the blogosphere.