Only 1 out of every 100 readers of this post are likely to interact with it by leaving a comment…
Below I’ll outline 10 ways you can increase the participation rate in the comments section on your blog.
Jakob Nielsen’s latest study finds that 90% of online community users are lurkers (read or observe without contributing) with only 9% of users contributing ‘a little’ and 1% actively contributing.
So 1% of your blog’s users are actively engaging with your blog and the rest are at best occasional contributers.
The study isn’t just on blogging so the actual numbers could be more or less than these and would no doubt vary from site to site anyway - but the principle is true. The vast majority of readers leave a blog without leaving a comment or contributing to it in any way (and some bloggers like it like this and switch comments off - read more on whether to have comments on or off here and the up and downsides of comments on blogs here).
To some extent this is just the way it is and we probably need to just get used to it - however when it comes to comments there are some ways to encourage more interactivity on your blog:
10 Ways to Increase Comment Numbers on Your Blog
1. Invite Comments - I notice that when I specifically invite comments that people leave them in higher numbers than when I don’t. To some degree this confuses me as most of my readers know that they can leave comments on any post - but I guess inviting a comment triggers a response to some extent. Also keep in mind that new readers that are unfamiliar with blogging don’t always know about comments or how to use them - invitations to participate in well laid out and easy to use comments systems are good for helping them participate.
2. Ask Questions - Including specific questions in posts definitely helps get higher numbers of comments. I find that when I include questions in my headings that it is a particularly effective way of getting a response from readers as you set a question in their mind from the first moments of your post.
3. Be Open Ended - If you say everything there is to say on a topic you’re less likely to get others adding their opinions because you’ll have covered what they might have added. While you don’t want to purposely leave too many things unsaid there is an art to writing open ended posts that leaves room for your readers to be experts also.
4. Interact with comments left - If you’re not willing to use your own comments section why would your readers? If someone leaves a comment interact with them. This gets harder as your blog grows but it’s particularly important in the early days of your blog as it shows your readers that their comments are valued, it creates a culture of interactivity and gives the impression to other readers that your comments section is an active place that you as the blogger value. As the activity in your comments section grows you may find you need to be slightly less active in it as readers will start to take over on answering questions and creating community - however don’t completely ignore your comment threads.
5. Set Boundaries - I noticed that shortly after I set the rules for my comments section (with a comments policy) that my comment numbers jumped up a little. I’m not sure if it was just a coincidence or whether readers responded to knowing what was and wasn’t acceptable. It’s just a theory but I think a well managed and moderated comments section that is free of spam and that deals with well with people stepping out of line is an attractive thing to readers. I personally don’t mind people expressing different opinions to one another in comments but when I sense things are getting a little out of hand and too personal I often step in to attempt to bring some order to the situation (I rarely delete non spam comments). I find that people have responded to this and that comment threads generally stay constructive as a result.
So - what do you think? How have you increased the levels of comments on your blog (had to ask)?
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