Question: We rarely see comments on our blog and with all the talk about engagement we are wondering about the importance of comments, how to generate them and the role of moderation for commenting on our site?
While comments are most certainly a clear sign of engagement on your content, I would like to provide some insight into your question and perhaps push you to rethink your strategy.
To stop and comment on a blog it often means that you caught the attention of the reader and that they had a strong feeling one way or another about what your company is saying. Now first, you must recognize that this may sometimes be positive but it may also be negative and when comments are negative it can be a PR challenge if your blog is well read.
Stepping aside from the negative comments for a moment, the idea of getting people to stop and write a comment on your blog really may or may not translate into any sort of meaningful metric. When I say meaningful metric, I just mean that commenters don’t always translate to brand advocates or paying customers. In fact many experienced content marketers would tell you that commenters are rarely good prospects (depending on your industry).
If comments are your goal and you believe they can genuinely up engagement and lead to revenue opportunities then I suggest focusing on writing in a way that propels readers to engage. Entice them to comment or respond by taking a clear stance on a topic and sometimes showing that you have an opinion rather than just “Reporting the News” or as many company blogs do, providing very superficial “how to” and “what is” type of content.
In terms of moderation, I rarely recommend it. If you are concerned about spam then install a plugin like Livefyre or Disqus to require authentication, but for the most part the fastest way to detract commenters is to add moderation. Peoples attention spans are very short and if you won’t post their comment right away they will be on to something else as fast as they came and visited. Further, they will rarely come back.
Of course if someone leaves an explicit or inappropriate comment then I suggest deleting, but if someone is negative or voicing dissatisfaction, deleting will often provoke the negative person to further drive their negative sentiment to other sites. This is one of the down sides of commenting but you sometimes have to take in the bad with the good. So if you are going to drive for comments then just know this and figure you will have to deal with those that disagree.
As a whole, I really don’t think comments should be the goal of most business blogs. If your content is well read and thoughtful you will drive some comments from time to time and it is most certainly worth it to respond and connect with those that take the time. However, I find companies that focus on providing value to their most coveted target audience will get the most return on their investment in content.
Does your business concern itself with driving comment online, and more importantly, should it?
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