Whether it’s a comment, a Tweet, or clicking an affiliate link, learning how to promote engagement is the first step in the sales cycle and is vital to your online success. Comments create social proof – they foster community, and they help drive traffic. So how do we go about getting more?
In order to get comments you need traffic, that’s a given. But even if you’ve already got the traffic, getting them to comment is another story altogether, and it’s a process that starts long before you write that post.
I remember when I first started blogging I had no comments at all. This was OK because I also had no traffic. Then the traffic started to trickle, and then it started to flow. However, I still wasn’t getting comments. I had some, 100 after 20 posts to be exact, but some of them we’re probably spam (I was desperate 🙂 ) and at least 30 were mine. I needed to do something about the way I blogged, because clearly what I was doing wasn’t working.
I set about changing the way I blogged, both on the site and off of it, and now – with 69 posts and just over 2000 comments I think that whatever I did worked. I’ve looked at what it is that I think has had the most impact on the number of comments I receive and I have broken it down into three Key Elements that I think you need to have as a blogger. This is not about how to drive traffic, or the etiquette of commenting on blogs in general (if you want blog commenting tips check out the ‘Ultimate Guide to Effective Blog Commenting’ here) those topics are far too broad to be covered here anyway. No, this is about the way you blog, and learning to make the process more engaging.
The one not so secret secret to getting comments is engagement, and the key is to engage them in such a way as to promote INVOLVEMENT. Here are the three key elements to getting your readers involved
I could go on and on about personality, because it has so much pulling power in the blogosphere, and so many bloggers either don’t have it, or leave it at the door when they put their blog hat on. For the new blogger it is understandable, it takes a while to find your own voice amongst the screaming masses. But once you have settled in there is absolutely no excuse for blogging without personality, because what it does is create engaging content – instantly.
Personality is the one ingredient that makes your blog posts stand out. There are only so many topics one can discuss within a specific niche, and chances are someone has already blogged about it before, so the only thing you have left is personality.
The key is to make your readers feel like they have known you for years, because then they’ll happily tell you what they think, in fact they’ll WANT to tell you.
One of the ingredients I often see mentioned when trying to engage readers is to be somewhat controversial. I can understand the reasoning behind this but without personality it’s pointless. If I see a stranger being obnoxious I will go about my way and not worry too much about it, but if I know who that person is, then chances are I will say something. If you haven’t first shown your readers who you are why are they going to give two hoots about what you think about XYZ? Write in whatever style you like – but make sure you inject some personality into it, otherwise chances are – I’ve seen that post before; and I already commented there.
Engage & Involve your readers
One of the reasons MacDonalds is so successful is that they engage their customers. Whether it’s a simple tray mat activity for the children or the ‘tell us what you think’ form at the counter – the whole process is designed to make you feel like you are a part of their brand, if even for a moment. You want this on your blog and the way to do it is through involvement. It is human nature to be a little tentative about doing something for the first time, in sales this is the reasoning behind the call to action – because it’s getting someone to do something the first time that’s the hard part.
But how do we capture this same ideology on our blog?
Ease them into it. Commenting is a pretty full on exercise if you think about it. You are giving up your email address, website (if applicable) and name so there is a lot for a new commentator to go through. Provide them with other ways to engage and feel involved.
Polls and surveys are a plug-in away and are a great way to not only get your readers involved, but also to learn something as well. (I highly recommend PollDaddy plug-in, available through your WordPress Dashboard)
Link your posts and create post series. Getting readers into the habit of clicking links within articles is a great way to make them feel more at home when visiting your blog. It’s also a great way to ease them into the eventual affiliate link. Even though it is just clicking links, by including the links you are promoting a sense of involvement in your reader.
Ask questions at the end of the post. But ask open ended questions that provoke thought based on the post. If you just wrote about social bookmarking, for example – then end by asking what social bookmarking tools they recommend? Or what methods they employ? Don’t simply ask if they enjoyed the post. We are all egocentric at heart, so
Give someone the chance to talk about themselves and you are increasing the likelihood of a response a hundred fold!
Blog layout, widgets, & plug-ins
Your overall blog needs to look inviting. You’d think this was a given, but I have been to many blogs that were going for the butterfly look but ended up with the moth. Making your content easy to find and your overall theme easy to navigate is important in general, but if you want to encourage comments you need to take it that one step further.
WordPress has a plethora of plug-ins designed to promote engagement on your blog so take advantage of them! Plug-ins like the Top commentators plug-in to increase the link love and appreciation for the commentators, The Tweet MeMe and Digg Digg plugins that allow sharing with that big ol’ ‘look how easy it is to share me’ button – because let’s face it, people are lazy. And of course the now famous CommentLuv and KeywordLuv plug-ins which are VITAL to your blog if you want to encourage comments.
Creating a blog that encourages comments really only comes down to creating opportunities for them to become involved every chance that you get, and making it really easy for them to comment and share your content in the first place. Remember – everyone else wants to be noticed just as much as you do, so just give them a gently reminder that they are welcome to do so on your blog today.