Ten Ways to Build Engagement with Blog Comments

A lot of people talk about blog comments based on the incoming traffic they can provide. The story goes, as Brian Clark noted in a popular post a while back, that if you leave tons of comments everywhere, you’ll be golden. It’s probably worthwhile to note that Brian’s post also points out that primarily, this story is more myth or legend, especially if all you’re doing is leaving one-word comments everywhere.

The fact is that commenting on blogs in a meaningful way can be one of your most powerful engagement tools. However, one needs to emphasize “in a meaningful way.”

With that said, here are ten ways you can use your blog commenting strategy to help you increase your engagement with other bloggers and blog readers.

1. Read the whole post. Carefully. When I first started commenting on blogs, I’d try to be smooth and say, “Ah, but you didn’t cover this!” Then I’d go back and reread the post when I had more time, and there’d be a whole paragraph dedicated to just that topic. D’oh. Show the blogger that you actually took the time to read the whole post, or just comment on what you know you actually read.

2. Only comment if you have something to say. This seems obvious, but sometimes I think people comment just because they want to vent about a bad day, and they don’t want to darken their own site with their ick. Alternatively, I think some people comment just for the sake of commenting. That is an ick of a different color. Again, check out Brian Clark’s post for more on this issue. He says it better than I could.

3. Instead of writing a blog post, note that you’re going to write a blog post. This not only indicates to the blogger that you really liked what they wrote (or really disliked it) but it also previews content that will be coming on your site. It also prevents others from thinking that you are an attention-grabbing prima dona, which is good.

4. Like on Twitter, not every comment has to link to your blog. Most comment areas let you add a live link so that your name is clickable to your blog. It’s ok to occasionally say, “Wow, I just wrote a post about that,” but creating a Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail of links on other blog sites is kind of poor form.

5. It’s ok to compliment the blogger. I try not to leave just a bunch of comments that say, “Hey, nice post,” but if a person is consistently shoveling out content that I think is super duper, I will tell them on occasion. Let’s face it – positive feedback is nice and rare!

6. Scan the comments and reply to interesting content there. Rather than just busting in with what you have to say, see if someone else has already verbalized similar thoughts. When you make your comment, give them a hat tip, or just reply and say, “Hey, I was going to say that exact thing!

7. Be yourself. I like to comment as if the blogger had just given a speech and I was there to shake their hand. If that means I add the occasional smart-allecky comment, well…so be it. Thus are the risks of blogging, right?

8. Watch your tonality. Bloggers are very protective of their content, so any kind of criticism you offer runs the risk of sounding harsher than you intend. Be very careful about how you present information like grammar errors, typos, or completely stupid ideas. Sometimes it’s better to take those thoughts to a direct message or email.

9. Don’t be timid about disagreeing. That said, don’t feel like you have to agree with everything a blogger says. I love a good debate as long as people keep it civil. That means not just keeping it civil with me but also keeping it civil with other people who are commenting on my post.

10. Don’t be a serial jerk. There are some people who seem to show up on every blog site, and all they do is disagree with everyone. They include at least 3 f-bombs for every 1 word, and they just bring the mood down (at least from my perspective). A lot of times, these kinds of comments don’t really seem warranted. It just seems to be “their thing.” It’s unattractive and will not really help you engage in a pleasant way with your peers.

So there you have it – my suggestions for using blog comments as a way to build your engagement online. What works for you? Let’s talk about it…in the comment section!

This is post #31 in the Engagement Series. Are you finding it helpful? Please let me know how I can improve!

Image by Kjell-Einar Pettersen. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/Kjelle69

18 comments
rofl rofl
rofl rofl

Cool. I tweeted about your post. Nice job.

GrandMaOnDeck
GrandMaOnDeck

My thoughts on blog omments are like Nancy Davis. "If you can't say something nice don't comment at all.
I take the time and read the blog and the comments., carefully picking out the things that are useful to me.
I do agree that making comments on blogs are beneficial. However, you should be yourself and not "copy cat"
someon elses comments or be artificial.

Nancy Davis
Nancy Davis

I only comment on blogs I have read in their entirety. I comment only when I have something useful to say. I really do try to point out things that may not have been mentioned before, or perhaps I have another viewpoint. I have certain blogs where I know that I may respectfully disagree and I won't hurt anyone's feelings.

That being said, I won't go out of my way to disagree, but I can, as long as I do it in a respectful manner. My mom raised me with the idea that "if you do not have anything nice to say, don't say anything" I do not go out of my way to comment on something I do not like, because no one likes a jerk.

My best advice is to just be yourself. Don't be fake. If you would not say it to your significant other, or parent, or boss, it probably does not belong in a blog comment either.

Kathy Manweiler
Kathy Manweiler

Hi Margie:

Like you, I want to check out the post that E.J. mentioned. A manifesto on how comments suck sounds like it could be a funny read, and more importantly, something else that I can learn from as a new blogger.

Your tips here confirm the kinds of comments I aim to leave on blogs. I've disagreed with a few points on blogs/story links, but I'm civil about it, and I also include the things I liked/agreed with in their post. I have no interest in being a flamethrower. When I run across bloggers I always disagree with, I just don't read their stuff anymore. I don't see any reason to start a fight with them -- there are way too many other good blogs/articles/books that I prefer to spend my time on.

Thanks for the thoughtful advice. @kamkansas

Melody
Melody

I love the advice about reading other comments first. (Which I realize is exactly what Christy Smith honed in on ;)) I'm not a fan so much of reading five comments in a row which all kind of say the same thing, and I've seen that happen. And sometimes it's more fun to respond to what others have said.

My only addition would be - and perhaps this is my own pet issue - is that I wish that people would make their names distinctive. I've noticed that on a busy blog, the comment stream can be confusing when there are multiple Steves, Amy, Amandas, Michelles, and none have a gravatar. I've seen that happen. And here I've violated that rule, by just being "Melody." Even writing something like "Melody in Seattle" can clear up confusing if there are multiple Melodys.

Thanks for the great post as always Margie! And I mean that! :-D

Christy Smith
Christy Smith

I think these are great tips Margie! If I was to pick just one though that I know would help my blog commenting, it would be #6. I think that often we are so eager to catch the attention of the blog author that we miss all of the cool things that may be going on in the comments. I love seeing threaded comments on a blog post because then I know that the topic really resonated with people and got them not only interacting with the author, but with each other. That's pretty cool stuff. :)

E.J. Apostrophe
E.J. Apostrophe

Hi Marjorie,

I saw your post through a link from Stanford Smith and decided to pop by.

My life as a serial commenter changed when I read the post "Your Comments Suck and I Don’t Want Them: A Manifesto" - http://bit.ly/gzBTOd

I have learned to shut up when I need to shut and to think about what I am going to comment before I spew out nothing but pure drivel.

Thank you for this post and much success to you.

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Very true. You can overdo almost all of these online and become a real nuisance. All good things in moderation :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Well said, Nancy. Be the best version of yourself that you can be, and you'll go far :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hi Kathy,

I sometimes visit blogs I disagree with because sometimes I find tidbits I do agree with, and it sometimes even influences me on the stuff I disagreed with originally. If I'm not hot-headed about it, I will often leave a comment, too, unless the blogger is just trying to send out link bait. In that scenario, I tend to stay away more often than not :)

Tyrell Mara
Tyrell Mara

Great post Margie, and a great response as well Kathy!

I love your open mind to learning about blogging, and I also will have to check out the blog mentioned to see what I can learn! Kathy, I also think you have a great strategy for bloggers that you typically don't agree with, one that I will keep in mind myself- it is amazing to think of all the good content out there, a fraction of which is what most of us will ever see!

There is so much great content in this post, Margie! I especially like #6 and #7, this is where you can really add value to the conversation. Another way that I try to add value, is to describe something that personally stood out about the post, and explain why. This may mean telling a story, anecdote, or relating it to my life, but I feel that this adds a great personal touch. Every person is impacted different by the same content and therefore sharing that impact can really open up new perspectives and learning! It also gives me a chance to warm up and show my personality!@TyrellMara
Thank you for your time and effort with this post!
PS- I know I said I'd be at the #TweetDiner a while ago, been very busy but it is still on my list and really look forward to connecting more there!
Cheers,

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

That's a good point, Melody. I try to include my Twitter name - if I meet someone I like in the comments section of a blog, it's always nice to be able to include the conversation in 140 character bits :)

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Absolutely! I've gotten to know some fantastic people because we all seem to comment on the same posts at the same time. It's kind of like a party :) In fact, sometimes I wonder if we end up driving the actual blogger nuts. But hey, it makes their site look good to have a zallion comments on there, right?

I don't always weave my way through all 87 comments I may see, but I try to give a quick skim. You find some interesting nuggets in there!

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

wow, I'll have to check out that post. I am always appreciative of comments. It still seems like a miracle of chance to me that a great person like you sees my blog, reads a post, and then takes the time to comment on it. It's magic :)

Thanks!

Kathy Manweiler
Kathy Manweiler

That's a good point, Margie. More food for thought for me! Thank you.

And Tyrell, I really appreciate your comment as well. I think Margie's response may have just opened my mine even more!

@kamkansas

Margie Clayman
Margie Clayman

Hi there Tyrell,

Thanks for popping by!

I think that's a great technique. Instead of just saying, "I liked this post," explain why you liked it - show that you have given it some careful consideration.

As for #tweetdiner, don't worry - we have it every weekend, and if you can't make that, we have a Facebook page now where you can pop in whenever you want :)