This article is about engaging your readers and inviting open conversation that will extend beyond the single comment with single reply model and will talk about expanding the conversation to three, four or even more readers all engaged in the same reply thread. (What did you think this post was going to be about based on the title?)
Conversations are the life blood of blogs and you really need to realize as a blogger that you really shouldn’t just write and run never to respond to a comment. I was a big time reader of Chris Pirillo‘s website, who is a fairly famous tech blogger and has been featured on CNN as well as is involved in numerous tech projects. I actually made a point to read and comment on most of his blogging articles as they were in similar niche and pretty good, but in the end I never had a single comment replied to nor was acknowledged ever as a reader. I have since lost interest in visiting the blog and found other tech blogs to find information. Chris Brogan is an example of a famous blogger/social media expert who does a really good job of engaging his audience and readers and I remember two years ago when my blog was just in its infancy he stopped by to leave a comment (something unexpected).
Bloggers need to engage their readers and start asking questions to which you expect readers to share their opinions and answers. But the conversation can end quickly if it simply is a single question or reply, so when you engage readers you need to follow up replies with further questions or details which will invite the reader to come back and reply again. Continue this tactic and sometimes it is good to invite another reader in to share their point of view and see if they will add to the comment thread. Few things are more rewarding then when I see several readers engaging each other on my blog post without my intervention, seriously when two or more readers keep actively talking to each other just by replying to each others comments is a great way to keep a blog post alive. Invite others to join the conversation if you see it is heated and watch your comments grow.
Probably one of the best blogs I have seen for comments is Creative Copy Challenge, The average post on this blog gets around 100 comments and it isn’t uncommon for most creative challenges to reach 140-160 comments. Most of these commenters are from readers commenting on each other’s stories and most of the 100+ comments are left by 10-14 regulars who constant engage each other and respond to each others stories. It isn’t uncommon for 5-8 readers to comment on each others comment which causes incredible comment threads that are sometimes so long you can barely make heads or tails of them.
Now this blog has a brilliant model of engaging its readers who tend to be bloggers, fiction writers and poets to write a creative piece with each challenge. Each comment is an entry in the game and comment inspires and invites feedback. This same tactic could be applied to just about any blog if you engage your readers to help you with your article. Have them share their tips, tactics, opinions about anything you are writing about this can be particularly effective if you pose them to solve a problem and come up with creative solutions.
Warning: I would be careful when getting into heated discussions with your audience. I do applaud and welcome free speech and writing about controversial topics can bring traffic and strong opinions in comments, but you need to make sure things are kept tactful and professional. The moment insults, name calling or language/conversation takes a negative tone this could turn off your other readers and make them unwilling or fearful from leaving comments themselves because they don’t want to get involved. I love me a heated debate, but I run this blog as professionally as possible and do not allow insults or hate speech of any kind in any comment. I have heard about some blogs having entire comment threads that though heated and had reply chains 15-20 replies long, had to have entire threads removed due to conversations becoming less than respectful.
So with that being said I want my fellow bloggers to share with me some of their most conversational posts, what was the topic about and how many comments did you receive? Feel free to include the link to your highly popular post in your comment and I would be more than happy to have it display for other readers.