How to encourage comments through participation

encourage comments through participation

I am regularly asked how to encourage comments from posts and blogs publicised on social media and elsewhere. This is an age-old conundrum many people seems to suffer from, so I got to thinking why this is.

Surf through the web and most of the blog posts you come across will give you plenty of good advice about how to encourage comments from your readers. These are all plausible and worth a try, but I still felt there was something missing.

When I looked at blogs with lots of comments, and social media profiles with equally a lot of engagement, I noticed one thing. These authors were communicating with their community. They all seemed to know each other. There was a camaraderie which had evolved through association with the author or the blog.

And then I got it! Check out the infographic below for what I found:

How to encourage comments through participation

And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.

Are your readers interested in what you write about?

You could be writing the most amazing content in the world, or offering equally incredible stuff within social media, but all this will be in vain if you aren't attracting the right people.

Also, how are you delivering this awesome material? Is it easy to understand? Are you catering for time-poor skim readers to attract their attention? Are you getting to the point within the first few seconds?

Valuable information which is glossed over by inappropriate readers, is delivered unattractively or the meaning is lost in translation will fail to encourage comments, however hard you try.

How much do they relate to your subject matter?

It is more difficult to comment on a post if you have no affinity with what has been written. I know, I have had to swallow twice for many contributions on a subject I have no connection with, are very poorly written, and do not interest me (see above).

Whereas, if I have found a post which I want to read, is on a topic that either interests me, or I want to find out more about it, then there is a higher chance of me commenting. Having a definite affiliation to the content is more likely to encourage comments.

People need to be able to relate to what you say, so they feel comfortable with your subject, want to learn more, and are able to resonate this with their own experiences. Then they will be more compelled to offer their own opinions, view points and relevant stories.

Are you a friend or a stranger to them?

A reader who has managed to create some sort of relationship with the author of the post, is more likely to read it, want to understand it, and ultimately comment on it. This is not the case if you don't know the person whose article you are reading.

This is part of the connection process; if you know, have heard of, or are interested in, the person who wrote the piece, then you will be more interested in reading it. By doing so, you will make a connection to them or the subject, which will help encourage comments.

The way to stimulate these kinds of relationships is to create a community on your blog, or social platform. Allow your readers to get to know you, as much as you with them. You are much more likely to support a friend than a stranger when it comes to leaving a comment.

What would compel them to want to leave a comment?

As well as having some sort of relationship with your readers, you need to provide something worthy for them to comment on. They are less likely to want to respond to posts which are badly written, poorly researched and contain very little valuable information.

Also, give your readers something to do. This is where the participation comes in. If your readers are able to feel involved in your blog, included with your focal point and made to feel valued and needed by you, the author, then they will be more likely to respond.

Everybody likes to feel wanted, or part of an inclusive group. It is important to culture this warm, fuzzy feeling with your readers. Let them into you secrets, leave gaps in your content they can fill in, ask them for their opinions, allow them share their stories, and – above all – make them realise how vital they are.

What do they gain from commenting?

This is when you highlight the sociability within your community. You will want your readers to know who each of them are. They need to like each other, feel comfortable with each others contributions, and are able to continue the conversation by creating discussions.

Also, it would be good if you were able to create some sort of amicable rivalry between them. This can be done by offering rewards for commenting: badges for multiple responses, certificates for excellent replies, or highlighted comments on your blog's sidebar. This will certainly encourage comments.

To increase the idea of participation, and to attract more readers, you could set up a giveaway based on comments. Think of something your readers would like to compete for, offer it as a prize for the best comment, and publicise who the winner is. Then regularly rinse and repeat for more comments.

How do you respond to your readers?

You should all know the importance of immediately, and consistently, replying to comments. This is not only a valuable form of appreciation for their effort and hard work, but it could even encourage further replies which could develop into discussions.

Your replies should be relevant and helpful. Try to entice more out of your readers by asking them questions, even if to encourage a bit more from them as to why they commented. This will result in better and more fully formed comments, which everybody will prefer to read.

And remember to comment on other people's blogs. Check out the blogs of your regular commenters (click on their names to access these), and carefully read and comment on their posts. This will increase your social relationship with these readers, who may feel compelled to reciprocate in return.

Does your content deserve a comment?

This harps back to the quality of your post or social update. What added value have you provided within it? What tangible help have your readers gained which could have made a difference to their lives? What would compel them to tell you about it?

Your content could also stimulate a reply by being controversial; this could certainly provoke a response. Your opinionated viewpoints may resonate, or even upset, your readers, which could result in them replying to set the world to rights. Be careful with your words here, to avoid conflict.

Or it could be as simple as asking an open-ended question at the end of your posts to encourage comments. If you don't ask, you won't get. Many readers will not volunteer a comment unless prompted, and giving them a few suggestions could easily result in a reply.

What emotional connection is there?

Writing impassioned posts on particular subjects, especially if it is trending, or you refer to a certain person or event, will encourage comments. Find that sweet point, focus it onto the right kind of people, and your comment box will be full to bursting!

Some bloggers benefit from their personality, especially if it resonates with their readers. This is part of the community of influential bloggers and their readers. Strike the right note, offer your fans what they want, make them feel part of your world, and the comments will soon flow in.

Sharing your emotional thoughts to your valued followers, particularly if they can also relate to them, will result in comments. Inspire them to share their own stories – people cannot resist a chance to be in the limelight! This will encourage comments from other readers, who will also be compelled to have their say.

Do your readers participate enough to encourage comments from them?

So to summarise: blogs, bloggers, social updaters and influential people who have created thriving communities which make their readers feel special, wanted and appreciated, will receive many comments in return.

Whereas someone writing in the cold, hard light of day, with next to no readers, about a subject nobody can relate to, will find it difficult to get any comments. This is a cruel and harsh world.

So look at what you are writing about, find the correct audience, post it where your readers hang out, create special and meaningful relationships, be ready to reply in a friendly and helpful way, and provide content which will stimulate replies, and you will be in a better position to encourage comments than you were before.

What do you think about what I have said above? Are you getting comments this way, or do you have other methods? Do you have any tips or tricks you would like to share which could help others to get more comments? We would love to hear from you in the comments below...

Alice Elliott
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