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3 Ways the Pros Get Blog Comments (And when you don’t want them)

No blog comments?

It may not be your fault.

In fact, I might convince you that you don’t want blog comments.

First, know that at least some of your lack of blog comments may be a function of math.  The vast majority of visitors to your blog are “lurking.”  They come and go without leaving a trace.

They don’t comment, they don’t share.

They’re like my two kids:  they just take, take, take — never give anything in return.  🙂

But this doesn’t mean that these “lurkers” aren’t getting value from your content.  And it doesn’t mean your blog isn’t contributing to your marketing.

What it could mean is that you don’t have a critical mass of traffic.  The percentages will vary from niche to niche but suffice it to say that I’ve worked with blogs that get 1000’s of visits per post and get no comments.

I’ve also worked on blogs that get a few 100 visits per post and manage to regularly receive thoughtful comments.

Crack open your analytics program and take a look at the amount of traffic you are getting to your posts on the first day you publish them.

Here’s a good rule of thumb…

If your posts are regularly getting less than 300 visits in their first day of publication, you don’t have an engagement problem, you have a traffic problem.

Why look at only the first day of traffic?  Simply because the vast majority of comments (thoughtful discussion) will take place in the first 24 hours your blog post is live.

Traffic is a different topic, but we can help with that too.

**Read our take on traffic in this post about building an unstoppable business.

So, how does one blog with a small amount of traffic get more thoughtful comments than another blog with boatloads of traffic?

Let’s find out…

The secret to getting blog comments

It boils down to this:

Don’t be a know-it-all.  At least not all the time.

In my nearly 10-year blogging career I have noted a set of elements that determine the number of comments a post will get.  It’s a particular style, tone and voice.

I’m going to break down three elements of blog posts that get comments.  You can easily add these elements to your posts and start discussions in your own comment section.

But first, let’s get our head right.

When you DON’T WANT thoughtful blog comments

Let me rephrase that:  when you shouldn’t EXPECT thoughtful blog comments.

Here it is…

Don’t expect thoughtful comments when you publish an authority post.  You know, posts with titles like,

  • The Ultimate Guide to Buying Penny Stocks
  • A Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics
  • Everything You Need to Know about the iPhone 5s

When you write the end-all-be-all article on a subject, you’ve left no room for discussion.  And that’s ok.  You are the know-it-all and you should be damn proud of it.

Blogs that publish very authoritative posts on a consistent basis tend to do poorly with comments.  But that doesn’t mean the blog isn’t meeting the business objective.

An “end-all-be-all” authority post is intended to establish you as the expert within your market, not create engagement.

There’s a big difference between an authority post and an engagement post.

Make no mistake, blog comments ARE NOT sales.  The end goal is NOT blog comments — at least not if you want to be in business for long.

All that said, if you have enough traffic visiting an authority post you will get “applause comments.” You’ve seen them before, comments like:

  • Wow, fantastic post!
  • Thanks so much for writing this!
  • Great stuff!

If it ends in an exclamation point, it’s probably an applause comment.

If you’re routinely getting applause comments on authority pieces, don’t worry.  They are clapping. They loved your performance.

You’ll also occasionally get questions from your audience on authority pieces.

But question comments come few and far between for the same reason no one asked your brilliant Ancient Civilization professor a question after a lecture — nobody wants to ask a stupid question.

If your goal is to build a community on your blog you’ll need to check your ego at the door.

Try adding these three elements in your blog posts,

1 – Humility

I met Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion at Blog World NYC in 2012 and he is far and away the most genuine person I’ve met in this business.

Marcus writes about his personal business struggles, his family and his friends.  He’s very open with his community and shares what he has learned.  That said, he doesn’t write like a know-it-all.

He shows humility and that, among other things, leads to a thriving community and very thoughtful blog comments.

In a post entitled 8 People That Dramatically Impacted My Life in 2013 (notice the humility in the title itself?) Marcus praises people that made a difference in his life and business in 2013.

Here’s a few excerpts,

How Marcus Sheridan gets blog comments

Here’s the stats on this post just 4 hours after it was posted,

  • 1262 words written by Marcus in the blog post
  • 3062 words in comments

But here’s the thing…

Marcus is part owner of a pool company called River Pools and Spas and it is the success of business blogging for this pool company that is the basis of what he teaches about marketing.

In this post on the pool company blog, Which is Best: Fiberglass, Concrete, or Vinyl Liner?  Marcus is offering his expert analysis of the best pool liner to buy based on your circumstances.

This is an authority piece.

His pool blog is full of authority pieces like this, and he doesn’t even allow comments on these posts.  Comments aren’t the goal for this pool blog — direct sales and leads are the goal and these authority pieces leave little room for discussion.

2 – Incomplete thoughts

Write short posts and let your readers fill in the blanks — in the comment section.

Seth Godin is an absolute master at this.  I know, I know… Seth doesn’t allow comments on his blog posts but his writing style is perfect for studying the art of writing thought and discussion provoking posts.

Seth’s posts are vehemently debated on social sites like Twitter and spark rebuttal blog posts on blogs across the web.   By the way, here’s why Seth doesn’t allow comments.

Here’s an example post from Seth.  Yep, this is the whole post,

For most blogs this would be an introduction to a blog post that would go through 10 bullet points describing how to encourage a culture that reports and stamps out mistakes.

Not Seth.  Seth isn’t trying to write the know-it-all post on this topic.

He just wants to start a little fire in your mind.  You fill in the blanks.

3 – Speculation

Mark Schaeffer is a student of marketing.  And, quite literally, a professor of marketing — at Rutgers University.

He’s one of the most cerebral bloggers you’ll ever read and he often makes predictions about the future of marketing.

Mark’s posts provoke discussion because they are debatable, not definitive.

Mark recently wrote a post titled, What will be the next big thing in social media? Here are 7 clues.

Notice that Mark is not trying to be a know it all here.  Like you’re favorite teacher, he just wants you to think about it with him.  He wants to lead an intelligent discussion about it.

Here’s the stats on this post,

  • 665 words written by Mark Schaeffer
  • 40 thoughtful comments
  • 3834 words in comments

Mix and match

You need to understand the purpose of each post you write.  Is it an authority piece intended to establish me as an authority?  Or, is it an engagement piece intended to build community and discussion.

Both can be lucrative for your business.

Ok, that’s it.  I’m finished.  The End.

Where’s my applause? 🙂

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