Blog comments are one of the first methods of contact you have between you and the community (and vice versa when commenting to others).
The built-in comment systems and third-party platforms provide a great opportunity to gain feedback, share expertise, and generate discussions.
However, it’s very easy to become consumed with their importance.
When you start to get too wrapped up in blog comments you begin to miss the big picture.
As a Site Owner
There are two imminent drawbacks of comment obsession as a site owner:
- It can be a wasteful activity when responding to spam and negative discussions
- Much of the feedback you receive cannot (and should not) be applied
Spam can be frustrating. Once your blog begins to build popularity you will inevitably see an influx of spam comments. These are generally done by bots and can automatically be discarded by plugins and filters (such as captcha) but the worst contenders are those created by individuals with the specific purpose of gaining a link within the URL field.
The tailored spam comments (ones that are vague but still try to relate to the content) are real time wasters. These commenters have no intent to come back and continue the discussion. To combat this you should take each comment with a grain of salt. Take the time to look at the linking website and ask yourself whether it’s an accurate match to improve the topic resources or just going for a link.
The other frustrating set of comments you should generally avoid are feedback comments. Yes, on occasion you will gain a helpful insight, idea, or genuine piece of feedback but the vast majority of commenters won’t have a complete understanding of your business and its direction which makes their feedback generally useless.
Feedback comments are always more welcome over the spam and should warrant a response from your end but don’t assume you have to act on each piece of advice if you feel it doesn’t apply to your work.
The reason for this stems from the fact that community members have grown attached to your brand and with it they are less likely to be critical of your decisions.
So, to recap, when you’re the site owner you should spend just enough time to validate a comment, leave a response (if applicable), and move on. You should keep your focus on content creation, community building, and marketing. Those hours you spend responding to comments could have a substantial impact on your business growth if applied to the most valuable actions.
As a Commenter
Let’s turn the tables. What if it was you leaving the comments?
- You could be one of the “hit and run” types
- You could be over obsessing about the discussion in place of taking action
The first, hit and run commenting, follows the same drawbacks as explained with being a site owner. The people that come in to leave a genuine comment, but fail to cycle back to continue a discussion doesn’t add a lot of value. The real value of commenting comes from a deeper discussion which can only generally be done so through a series of back and forth responses.
If your decision to leave comments is to get on the radar of site owners or gain some recognition within the community with your expertise then you’re doing it wrong if you’re a hit and run type. People now discovering the post and reading the comments may have gotten hooked in the initial discussion caused by your comment but if you’re not around then it becomes forgettable.
Secondly, getting obsessed with comments but failing to take action on the topic is quite moot. You just spent however long to read through the topic, maybe even have taken notes, and used your time to leave a comment. Then you’re back to keep things rolling. What about applying what you’ve learned rather than just talking about it?
If you want to be a bigger part of the community then you need to bring something new to the table. Merely talking about it to no end makes you a general observer which isn’t helping, too much, to being recognized. The real winners are those that apply the topic and come back with their own take on the matter – they become practitioners and teachers.
To recap this angle let’s just remember that it could be you leaving the vapid feedback, nowhere discussions, and unrelated links. You could also be far too obsessed with leaving your voice on other sites rather than using that time to make it heard on your own.
A Nice Balance
All this naysaying and pessimism needs some kind of balance.
If you ask me there are four things to keep in mind about comments:
- Don’t feed the trolls
- Remove discussions that have little merit
- Consider taking the discussion to social media sites (which are easier to manage)
- Take all feedback and suggestions with a grain of salt
I’m not telling you to shut down the comment system on your site nor am I telling you to stop leaving comments on others. All I’m trying to say is to find a balance. Know that your time is valuable and there are always bigger and better business actions to be taken versus a slew of one-off comments.
Think this: If I’m going to comment then I may as well make it extremely valuable to help build my relationship with others and share my brand (without it interfering with my daily operations).