The boyfriend and I had a geeky disagreement last night. (To answer the question you will certainly be asking yourself in a moment, yes, we totally talk shop after work, like two big nerdy nerds.)
He was telling me about this article from Moz.com, that talks about why a blog post should be considered a failure if it doesn’t have any comments. Social shares, posits the author, do not count as success because most people share articles without reading them.
The second point I agree with. I know lots of people who do this …
The first point, though? I beg to differ.
This is someone’s dog, also begging to differ.
So this boyfriend of mine (let’s call him “Joe” because, you know, that’s his name) agreed that unless people leave comments, the blog post was a waste.
“Do YOU comment on blogs?” I asked (already knowing the answer and trying to fight the urge to use a superior tone.)
“No,” he admitted. [“Ha!” I thought, but did not say, with superior tone in full effect.] [He’s also one of those people who shares things without reading them, but don’t tell him I told you.]
And then I said, “People rarely have discussions on blogs. They have discussions on social media.”
And even as I said it, I hated that it was true. But it is.
Commenting is a Big, Fat Pain
I want to be a commenter. I love debate and sharing thoughts and opinions and I’m a writer, fer cryin’ out loud. I’m a prime candidate for commenting.
Yet I rarely do. Why? For the same reasons you probably don’t either.
- I have to take a fraction of a second to fill in a form at the bottom of the blog post and I don’t feel like making the effort.
- There’s often little payoff. If I take the time to craft a statement about my opinion and no one replies, it’s annoying. Or worse, I could get shouted down by people who are gunning to disagree with someone. Neither of these scenarios are worth my time or emotional energy (and in large part why mainstream publications are questioning their commenting policies, or doing away with comments altogether.)
- If someone does reply to me, I might not get a notification about it. Either that, or I’ll get too many notifications and my email will fill up with nonsense every time a stranger chimes in with a “Me too!”
- Ultimately, there are more efficient ways to have conversations about a blog post. Popping that URL into my social media accounts and sharing it with my own virtual world often prompts fruitful dialogue with people I like and respect. To me, this is the Internet equivalent of discussing current events at a dinner party.
Jon Morrow Told Me Not to Worry About It
For years, I was a pretty hardcore memoir-style blogger. I had lots of great engagement – tons of discussion with readers. Are those discussions on my blog? Heck, no. They’re all on Facebook.
Then I took a Jon Morrow course on Guest Blogging. During one of the calls I asked him what I should do to get my readers to comment on my blog instead of on social media.
His advice? “Don’t worry about it. As long as your readers are engaged, it doesn’t matter where it is.”
But Wait! You Don’t Own the Social Media Content!
Back to the boyfriend and the nerdy disagreement:
“But wait!” said Joe. “If you don’t have those conversations on your blog, then you don’t own them. They’re lost!”
I know. And this part of it hurts my heart. Many a funny and interesting discussion about a cherished blog post has been slowly sucked into the social media tide … drifting further and further away in Facebook’s maddening timeline. Sigh.
But … you have to meet people where they are, not where you are. People want to do what’s easy. What’s familiar.
Should you try to get people to comment on your blog? Sure, if that’s what you want to do. Go for it. But if it doesn’t happen, I wouldn’t go ripping down your blog. There’s still real value in it. (Case in point: We get lots of inbound inquires here at Scribewise and we don’t have blog comments.)
I think as content creators, the best we can do is create compelling work … things people really want to read… and then we have to get all Zen (or at least all Sting) about it and set that stuff free.
What matters is engagement. Social shares can be powerful because they can expose you to a new audience. They may or may not breed conversations elsewhere – hopefully they do – but that’s out of our hands. We can’t control the method of the conversation, all we can do is plant really great seeds and hope they sprout into something worthwhile.