Engaging Readers to Comment on Blogs and Social Networks

You can write for miles, you can post links to funny videos on your Facebook page, and you can tweet until your online voice gives out…it’s great to have the ability to easily produce content, but none it means much unless you know for certain people are processing it. What good does it do to have 500+ Twitter followers or a thousand fans on Facebook if none of them are regularly checking your content?

Where success in social media is concerned, we tend to gauge the effectiveness of updates by how often posts are “retweeted” or shared across over platforms. How often people “Digg” your articles or link to your YouTube depends on overall interest – did you produce something thought-provoking or funny? You may be encouraged to see numbers increase every time you check your social profiles, but when it comes to your blog you have analytics and, more importantly, comments. When you post, do people have to something to say about it? Does what you write move people to want to share their opinions? If not, there’s a chance you aren’t blogging correctly.

Are there rules to proper blogging? Not really. The beauty of blogging comes in the freedom allowed the writer – you can share as much or as little information as you wish, enhance your entries with photos or video embeds, and even creative hypertext that guides readers to relevant spots on the Internet. As a blogger, you can also monetize your material with affiliate or point of sale links to products and services. The more you blog, the greater the opportunity to reach people interested in your topic, though the one thing that will keep readers returning to your blog is active engagement. Don’t just blog at visitors, but to them.

Ask Questions: If the purpose of your weblog is to establish yourself as an authority in your field, you might at first be reluctant to entertain opposing views. While some may find debates daunting, encouraging readers to answer to questions you pose can make for good interaction, which in turn may lead readers to share these only discussions via social media.

Accept Criticism: In a perfect world, everybody agrees with what we have to say, and everything we say is correct. Not so online – it seems the Internet was made to create controversy, and nobody is immune to negative feedback. Rather than take a curt remark on your comment wall personally and ignite a flame war, take a deep breath and examine why a reader would disagree with you, or criticize your company, product, or service. The temptation to erase bad history is tempting, but you’ll be the bigger person if you let these comments remain and accept them with grace.

Remain Topical: Part of maintaining online popularity involves looking for content that is…well, popular. It’s a challenge to raise your voice and talk about your business when people are more interested in sharing viral videos and pictures of funny-looking cats. You might wish to experiment with levity in your blogs and social profiles – join ’em instead of beat ’em by sharing popular content, and test reader response. If you can find a way to integrate what is popular and maintain relevance to your topics, all the better.

Above All Else, Ask! Never fear that asking questions of others will diminish your authority. The only way to grow is to learn, and engaging people online can snowball into full-fledged conversations that keep people visiting your profiles. What have you done recently to help blog comments skyrocket? How do you engage social friends and fans to keep talking?