Why Would You Bother to Comment?

This is a guest post following a great chat I had with Valerie Merahn Simon, and is a nice follow-up on my recent post about Twitter and blog comments.

If you’re like me, you read a lot of blog posts. Many of them are good posts. Some you’ll even share via Twitter or email. But only once in a while will you be motivated to comment. Commenting is a contribution. It requires time and effort and thought.

So why are readers willing to invest themselves in someone else’s blog post?

Controversy

Sometimes it’s hard not to “jump in”. When David Mullen & Lauren Fernandez asked Should Newspaper Have Outed an Intern for Plagerism? on Communications Catalyst, 107 comments ensued. A recent post on the Bad Pitch Blog regarding the controversial outing of the “reverse bad pitch” of “Mike Hendricks and the Laws of Shamelessness” resulted in 57 comments.

Another Bad Pitch post entitled “Simply put, thank you” about the very successful Bad Pitch Blog Night School garnered 0 comments. Of course controversy does not have to mean scandal. One of the most highly commented recent posts on Marketing Profs Daily Fix was Help! I Have Social Media Rejction Syndrome which inspired a spirited debate over whether it is appropriate to connect with those you don’t know on LinkedIn.

Expertise

Do you believe you can offer value and insights to the conversation? That the post needs your expertise? When Jeremy Porter posted The Best Schools for Journalism on Journalistics, his community was well prepared to contribute (28 comments). Whether they agreed with the schools on his list, or they felt he left off a school, his readers know journalism schools and felt compelled to share their opinions.

Similarly when Lauren Ferenandez asked her readers The 1.2 Million Definitions of PR: What’s your take? a discussion including 50 comments emerged. Her community understood the question, had an opinion and felt that were well suited to make a contribution to the conversation.

Questions

Is the blog a conversation with the reader, or simply offering a monologue? Jerimiah Owyang does a fantastic job of integrating questions alongside valuable insights to engage readers. A great example of this is Owyang’s recent post How to Kick Start a Community- An Ongoing List. With 72 comments the list did become a community undertaking.

Chris Brogan offers a similar example with his recent Simple Touch Points of Loyalty post, which offered 9 Simple Touchpoints of Loyalty and asked for help identifying more. Over 112 comments followed. One of his least commented posts Why I Will Promote Teaching Sells (just 8 responses) doesn’t speak to readers, so much as speak at them. In his words, “I wanted to share that with you clearly, and tell you a bit about the program, what I like about it, and then, I’ll let you go take a look for yourself.”

Does every post demand comments and interaction? Not necessarily.

Many of my favorite bloggers, brilliant thought leaders such as Shel Holtz, rarely receive more than a comment or two per post. These posts may be viewed by hundreds and shared by many, yet fail to evoke the often elusive comment. There is a unique skill, an art even, to crafting posts that elicit a written reaction from readers.

What was the last post you commented on? Why were you compelled to leave a comment?

Valerie Merahn Simon serves as a Senior Vice President at BurrellesLuce media monitoring and measurement, and writes a national public relations column for examiner.com. She is also co-founder and host of #PRStudChat, a monthly twitter chat between PR professionals and students moderated by Deirdre Breakenridge. She can be found on Twitter or LinkedIn and once in a while, if sufficiently motivated, commenting or even guest posting on a blog!

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