When it comes to your blog, you want people to comment, right? After all, the goal of community management is to get people to engage, to respond, to feel passionate enough about your brand that they care to share their thoughts. Start putting out great content, and slowly but surely, people start to comment. OK, great! You’re building your community!
When To Comment
Now what? Do you respond to every comment? Only some? Striking the right balance between engaging with your readers and being chained to your keyboard answering comments is critical not only for community management, but also for your sanity.
Initially, it feels pretty important to respond to every comment. Let’s face it: if people are reading and actually feel compelled to comment, that’s huge! You’re excited, and you want them to know it. It shows that you’re not just a moderator, but that you actually care–that you’re responsive and interested in being part of a larger conversation with them. When your reader feels important and acknowledged, they’re more likely to come back for more. Even better, they’re more likely to share your posts via their own social networks and drive more people to your page.
Once you’ve built a readership and start getting comments regularly (hello, success!), you may not be able to respond to every single one. What then? Responding to only some commenters seems like the right answer. You can answer those with follow-up questions, comment on an interesting remark or point someone to an additional resource. Plus, other commenters see that you’re still engaging and keeping the conversation going. Ideally, commenters will talk to one another, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to help them along.
Another tough decision comes into play when it comes to your commenting platform. This is tricky because you don’t want the form itself to be a deterrent. Once a user actually decides to comment, filling out the form might stop them in their tracks. There are a number of factors that affect whether or not a user is willing to even share information, for example, the content and exposure on your site or the kind of information you require for comments. The fact of the matter is, some people won’t comment simply because they don’t want their information out there. For instance, I don’t comment on blogs from larger news sites because I’d rather not give them all my information to share with the world or get a barrage of email as a result. And really, does anyone want to get 1,000 follow up emails about subsequent comments? Those of us with blogs that spark any sort of controversy might deter commenters, too. Not because they don’t have a lot to say about our posts, but because they’d prefer to have some anonymity around those topics.
Also consider that sharing on different social media platforms is another viable way to get comments. On my personal blog, many readers won’t comment on the actual blog, but feel comfortable responding via Facebook or Twitter. In any case, you have to feel out your community and meet them where they are.
What has been your experience with commenting? Do you respond to every comment?
This article was written by Melissa Woodson, community manager for Washington University in St. Louis’ @WashULaw, an online LLM degree in U.S. Law.