Today's topic is: Responding to Comments
*Quick disclaimer. Most established blogs have their own way of processing comments. Please remember that this series is geared towards new/small blogs or blogs who are interested in growing their readership. These are just suggestions meant to help, not to overwhelm!*
Hopefully, if you've been reading this series and working on engaging your readers and leaving thoughtful comments, you're beginning to see some growth in your comments section. It is so exciting for any blogger to see feedback on posts. We all love to see those little messages pop up with encouragement, funny stories, and observations.
What do you do with those comments? Do you read them and move on to writing your next blog post?
If you're genuinely interested in forming an involved network of readers, the answer should be "no." As we discussed in Session #5, you can link to a slew of blog parties each day and collect dozens of comments, but if you aren't taking the time to interact with your readers, you'll find yourself with a lot of "one-comment" readers.
Responding to comments can lead to wonderful blogging friendships---the readers you can depend on for moral support, encouragement, and great guest posts when you go out of town! Readers who know you appreciate them are more likely to take a moment or two to let you know what they think of your latest post.
So, what does "Responding to Comments" entail?
When a reader takes the time to comment on a post you have written, you can return the favor, either by emailing them, personally visiting their blog to leave a comment of your own, or replying in your blog's comment section.
1. Visit the reader's blog and leave a comment
- New Bloggers: I highly recommend going directly to the commenter's blog and leaving a nice comment of your own.
- If your blog daily receives a small amount of comments, it makes sense to foster a sense of community by visiting the folks who offer you feedback. Quid pro quo. Remember, the easiest way to receive comments is to leave them for others!
- Chances are that if you are excited to see a new comment, so are they.
- What to say? Read Mary Sue Blogger's most recent post and find something nice to remark on. Even better to follow up with a quick "thanks for the visit to my blog!"
- Other instances in which leaving a comment is called for--If you've been featured on another blog or have the opportunity to guest post, if you linked to a party and the visitor lets you know he/she is stopping by from that party (don't forget that link parties imply interaction!!), or if you win a Giveaway.
2. Reply via email
- Assuming that the person who commented on your post has his/her email attached to a Blogger profile, this is the easiest and fastest way to reply to the comments left on your blog.
- Best when your reader has a very specific question and you feel odd about answering it in a comment on their blog.
- We'll be addressing this in a later session, but replying to your readers via email is a great way to continue to connect with them when you begin receiving too many comments to respond to with individual blog visits daily.
- Again, if you don't receive a lot of comments, I really recommend going to the other person's blog instead of just emailing. You'll encourage a better commenting relationship this way! They're going to want to offer you feedback because they know you'll probably do the same for them.
- Reserve emailed replies for the busiest of days, or for when your blog has grown too much to make individual visits (more on that another day).
3. Respond in your own comments section. (Several readers asked me if I think this is an effective way to return comments.)
- Unless your blog has a special commenting software that automatically emails your reply to the person who left the comment, I don't recommend responding to comments on your own blog.
- Most readers do not return to blogs to read follow up comments.
- Readers love to know they're appreciated. Most of us would say that we'd prefer a visit and comment on our blogs, but an email is better than no acknowledgment at all.
- If you want a reply, make it easy for the writer to respond to you! (More on this in a how-to post)
4. Time frame for Returning Comments
- We'll be addressing scheduling/balancing time later on in this series, but it's a great idea for new bloggers to set aside time each day to reply to their readers.
- It's best if you are able to respond to comments within a day, two at most. You want to keep your blog's name fresh on your readers' minds. Waiting days to respond doesn't do you any good.
In short, if your blog is receiving a small amount of comments each day, it should be doable for you to schedule a few minutes to interact with your readers. Making an effort to engage with them on a regular basis can lead to great results.
If you choose to become a "comment collector," the readers who do stop by your blog will eventually become dissatisfied with the one sided conversation they're having with you.
Next week, we'll be addressing ways to fit commenting, networking, and blogging into your schedule. As your blog grows, you will notice a big difference in the time you once had to devote to interacting personally with your readers. I want to chat about that, because I think some new bloggers have unrealistic expectations...of themselves and also perhaps of some of the blogs they read. Also coming up....some technical how-tos, highlights, and resources.
Thanks for sticking with me....until next time!