Most new blogs are comment deserts, with no one to be seen but the occasional friend, family member, or spammer popping in to say hello. In cases like these, you probably need to increase your traffic or change your approach to get some more love sent your way, but once the comments start picking up, you’ll need to start implementing some blog management strategies or you’ll really start going nuts trying to keep up with it all.
Here’s a handful you should consider if they are starting to overwhelm.
1. Don’t Respond to Ever Single One…Unless
Have you ever visited a blog where the blog owner responds to every single comment someone makes on their post? While I can certainly understand the intention, this can be damaging if overdone. For one, it just seems corny and comes across as insincere. On top of that, it seems a bit amateur – as if you have nothing else to do and are desperate for dialogue.
Commenting isn’t just about talking with you anyways – an important thing to remember. The people who post there are often just as interested in talking with each other, and while they no doubt look forward to you pitching in, they don’t want to hear from you after every single comment.
Is it ever a good idea to do this?
Well, if you’re only getting a few comments per blog post, then you better believe it’s time to comment back. Reward the few people who are talking there by conversing with them, otherwise why should they bother?
It can also depend on the types of articles you write. If an article includes a call to action that specifically suggests they will be posting to talk with you, then by all means, fulfill those expectations.
But whatever you do, if you are going to respond to every single comment, make sure it’s genuine! Don’t be the girl behind the counter at Burger King, putting on her cheeseburger grin and telling everyone to have a nice day just because she has to!
2. Leverage Them for Improvement
Don’t forget that your comments are essentially customer feedback – many people come to tell you exactly what it is you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong. Market research stepping right up to your door!
Often, bloggers just ignore negative comments because they don’t think paying them mind does them any good or are just too insecure to face their own flaws. While developing a healthy attitude about negative feedback – namely, realizing that it’s inevitable no matter what you do – is a good idea, it’s also an opportunity for improvement that shouldn’t be missed.
What about positive comments? Well, an ego-boost is certainly nice, but they’re also valuable because they show you what you’re doing right. Discover where to focus your energy for more results!
3. Turn Them Into Additional Blog Posts
If you’re getting a lot of comments, you’ve got a rich mining grounds for blog ideas right there at your fingertips too. Aside from answering them right then and there, set the best questions and comments aside and flesh your answers into longer, full-fledged articles that your readers would be interested in learning more about.
4. Beef Up Your FAQ
In a similar manner, you can leverage the more frequent or important comments to expand your FAQ. Your Frequently Asked Questions Page can be an asset to your business if it minimizes the mundane questions that every visitor seems to ask, uncluttering your comments and freeing you from time-wasting emails.
So identify what keeps coming up and clarify these issues for your audience before they have a chance to ask again. You’ll even find your regulars popping in the convo to drop a link or reminder when a newbie misses the FAQ.
5. Don’t Let Commenters Attack Each Other
Comment sections should be places where people feel free to state their opinions and views without attacks from their peers. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the web seems to imbue otherwise-rational people with Napoleon complexes (and sometimes even far worse complexes than that).
Don’t take a hands-off approach to bullying, aggressive arguments, and commenter-to-commenter trolling. It can quickly turn your site into hostile territory, and eventually a wasteland.
6. Set Clear Policies
Deciding on standards for what you will allow in your comment section deals with a lot of issues at once.
First, it makes it immediately clear to yourself when a comment has crossed the line, so you don’t have to dwell on it. You can just make your decision immediately.
Second, it’s instructive to people who are going to post on your blog, thus minimizing the trash.
Third, it fosters communication and trust between you and readers. Don’t be that authoritative blogger who says, “It’s my space and and I don’t have to explain myself here.” It’s much better to help your reader avoid the risk of wasting time on something that is going to get deleted or hold resentment when it does happen.
7. Outsource Some of the Work
Yes, even blog comments can be outsourced if you do it right.
I’m not telling you to outsource your own responses though – I don’t encourage that at all. But what you can do is pay someone to monitor your comments, delete those that go against your policies, and alert you to comments that fit certain criteria. If they warrant your attention, you can then log in to respond as needed.
In this way, you can keep your finger on the pulse of your audience while spending a minimal amount of time doing so.
If you pay attention to the most popular blogs on the web, you’ll often find that the comment territory becomes like a forum atmosphere, with the same users coming in on a regular basis to contribute and drop their thoughts on the latest post, and respond to each other. Obviously, the social nature of such an environment can be a powerful way to connect with your audience.
Just don’t let it get away from you or it can consume your time and quickly fall apart.