There's nothing more satisfying than managing to strike up conversations with your readers within your comments. To actually get a ping-pong meaningful response about the post in question makes everything worth while.
Ideally this is what you should strive for. It needn't be solely with one reader; if you can get others joining in, all so much the better! A really good discussion you can get your teeth into makes any blogger's day.
So many comments are either lacking in content to achieve a reasonable answer. Of if you you reply, there is no come-back to your carefully posed question created purely to strike up a conversation.
What you really need is a thriving, lively audience gagging to strike up conversations with you within the comments. This infographic will give you a heads up on how to achieve this:
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.
Who are you conversing with?
It is important to understand who your readers are. Yes, I know marketers go on about knowing your ideal customer, and all that, but the best way to find out about your readers is to strike up conversations with them. If they are happy to respond, you will find out more.
Having the ability to find out more about your readers has many advantages. You will learn about their preferences, so produce better articles for them. They will let you know if what you write about is helpful, suitable, relevant or merely what they are interested in.
Conversations allow you to explore further, especially if they are relaxed and friendly. If people feel comfortable with you, they will reveal much more about themselves. Find the happy medium which relates to both you and them for the best results.
Pretend you've known them for a long time
The ability to feel at home within your conversations will soon rub off onto those you are talking to. They should soon realise you aren't a threat, you only want the best for them, and that whatever they say will be appreciated and accepted.
The ability to strike up conversations is a great way towards forming relationships with your readers. Once they've let their guards down, and are prepared to loosen up within their responses, then you can start to delve into what really matters to them.
Think of your conversations as you would have in a coffee shop, over a cappuccino and a large piece of chocolate cake. Let the words flow, and respond to the stimuli you receive. Then transcribe how you would have these conversations into the way you write comments.
Which words do they frequently use?
Finding the right kind of vocabulary which is suitable for your readers is imperative. Your choice of words should reflect exactly what they would use. It's no good trying to be clever and intellectual when your readers have a tendency to be the opposite.
This is why you need to analyse your readers properly. Perhaps do some social listening in the places your readers are mostly likely to be online. This is a prime opportunity to find out what words, phrases and idioms they frequently use, and in what context they are using them.
What you are trying to do is to match their level. Understanding what stimulates them so you can offer what really interests them. Once your readers feel they have an affinity with what you are trying to say, they will be more likely to strike up conversations with you.
Simplify your language to suit the occasion
Nobody likes a smart-arse. Someone who pompously mansplains himself to the detriment of whoever is unfortunate to listen to him. Avoid striking up conversations which dominate the field in the expense of alienating everyone else.
Keeping things simple doesn't mean assuming everyone else is stupid. However, simplifying things is quite an art. Einstein was reputed to have said something like: "If you can't describe a concept in three words, then you don't truly understand it yourself".
Therefore keeping to the common ground, which all can understand, is probably the best policy. It is more likely to be welcomed, appreciated and compelled to provide a response, if people feel you are on the same wave-length as them and the ongoing conversation.
Keep everything short
If you take note of popular blogs and social posts, you will probably notice they have short paragraphs and sentences. (Not like this blog!) There are many reasons for this, as it helps with comprehension, recognition, and that ever lessening attention span.
We are in a world of those who cannot be bothered to read everything thoroughly. Therefore short paragraphs, punctuated by sub headings, are designed to attract skim readers as they scan through the article to check whether it is worth reading or not.
And short sentences need the ability to punch their meaning home, fast. Successfully hitting your concept between your readers' eyes will result in better comprehension, which in turn should stimulate them to strike up conversations on that particular subject.
Avoid getting too cocky
Many up and coming young entrepreneurs, especially within the corporate world, think it's important to liberally sprinkle conversations with acronyms and jargon. They think it makes them look superior, well educated, a good bet for promotion.
Unfortunately, within the world of comments, this has the opposite effect. This follows on from the smart-arse I mentioned before. Nobody is going to reach for the dictionary to understand something they don't recognise. The result is frustration, rejection and ultimately deletion.
I use an SEO plugin on this blog which penalises me for being too passive in my writing. This arises mostly from report writing. Active phrasing is what you should focus on, as it resonates better with your audience and follows the patterns of speech better.
Work on your personality
Successful bloggers and influencers online are the ones who have a specific personality. They may not appeal to everyone, but if they manage to accrue a decent following, then they will consider themselves to have succeeded.
There is no reason why you can't develop your personality when you strike up conversations online. You could take your lead from your ideal or regular readers, as emulating them helps with being relatable, understood and appreciated.
But whatever you choose, stick with it. Chopping and changing will only confuse people. They will need something they can latch onto from your posts and comments, and if you managed to find something with which they have an affinity, you know you are on to a winner.
Show you care about what others say
Ultimately, it is enthusiasm and positivity which wins the day. In spite of all the hard work trolls do to counteract this. People want to feel good about a situation, rather than having everything struck down to destroy the good in any scenario.
The simplest way to show this is by revealing how much you care about your readers and commenters. Especially when you strike up conversations with them. Let them know what you feel about their opinions and points of view, and that you value what they have to say.
What you are striving for is their trust. And you can do this by siding with them. If you have to disagree, do so politely and with consideration. Always be aware of each side of the situation, and hopefully your measured response will be approved by all.
How do you strike up conversations in your comments?
I am always happy when I strike up conversations within my comments. I still remember the heady days, prior to 2014, when comments weren't abused by spam and moderators were more relaxed, and we could have easier commenting conversations on blogs.
There was one conversation which went on all day. It was so exciting to refresh my blog to see the next contribution. Nowadays, with social media being in real time, this is a phenomenon which is taken for granted, so the enthusiasm has waned somewhat.
What are your experiences of striking up conversations on social media, blogs, social forums or whatever? Share with us the outcomes you had, good, bad or ugly, in the comments below – we would love to hear from you.