In the blogging world there are plenty of opinions and expectations about what equates appropriate and effective blogging. Even among blogging experts, the advice varies, the rules change, and the lines get blurry.
If you’re like me, you read contrasting posts, throw up your hands, and wonder what you really should be doing. You begin to doubt that all the time and effort you’re putting into blogging will pay off.
On the one hand, not having clear and concise parameters for blogging is a good thing. The lack of set “rules” allows each of us to shape our blogs into a unique reflection of who we are. The blogosphere would be downright boring if each of us were doing the same things.
I don’t claim to be a social media expert. I defer to others for that. But because I’ve been blogging for a while, I can share what’s worked for me and what hasn’t. So, today I’m going to attempt to answer Nina B’s questions about blogging comments. She asked: “What do you feel is the blogger's role in responding to comments? Do you think if a blogger rarely responds that people stop commenting?”
I’m sure we all have various opinions (or have heard experts give their opinions) about interacting within the comments of our blog posts. And as I said, the varied approaches is beneficial. The differences keep our blogs from being robotic copy-cats.
However, in thinking about a blogger’s responsibilities with responding to blog comments, I would offer these three gentle pieces of advice:
1. Let go of the pressure to have to respond to each comment.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have the time to respond back to each comment. Even if we do have the time, how do we find interesting things to say to each comment? How do we prevent our responses to everyone from looking like a checklist, like something we had to do instead of something we wanted to do?
Some comments have a “reply” function. The positive aspect is that a blogger can directly chat with specific people. The negative aspect is choosing whom to “talk” to without looking like you’re playing favorites.
My solution is to let go of the expectation of having to reply to every person. Most people don’t have the time to come back and read a response anyway. I never do when I leave a comment unless I ask a question.
2. Maintain visibility in one form or another.
So maybe we won’t write a personal comment to each person who stops by. But that doesn’t mean we should throw our post out there and disappear. If we never make an effort to interact or rarely respond, then yes, I do believe comments will decline. When we don’t show our visitors that we’re listening, they’ll stop talking and perhaps even cease coming.
I jump into the discussion when a comment strikes me with an additional thought. Even if I don’t have anything to add, I still try to make a comment once or twice throughout the day. This lets anyone who comes back know that I appreciate the input. And it lets future commentors know that I’m reading and available.
Also, I always make a point of answering questions. Even if I don’t have the answer or if I decide to use the question for a future blog post, I leave a responding comment to that effect.
Sometimes, if the person has an email address in their blog link (which everyone SHOULD have!), I’ll shoot them a quick note. Other times, I’ll check in with them on twitter and let them know my thoughts on their comment.
3. Be thoughtful and genuine in our interactions.
In a perfect blogging world, we’d all have the time to chat back and forth with each other in the comments. But since our time is limited and we want to be good stewards of the actual writing time we have, we can’t expect to keep up with leaving comments for everyone.
However, we can always attempt maintain a genuinely friendly, kind, and thoughtful attitude among the interactions we do have. The inviting atmosphere of our blogs will make them attractive and keep people coming back.
It boils down to remembering that each person who comments is a real person, with real dreams and aspirations just like me. No one is better than anyone else. We’re all in this together. I want to treat others the way I like being treated--with respect and kindness.
What’s your opinion? Is there a right or wrong way interact within blog comments? How do you handle responding to comments on your blog?