Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lurkers vs. Commenters: a coda

I happened across this posting tonight whilst looking for something else. It should come as no surprise that there are blogs about blogging, but this post, from Blog about Your Blog, addresses what so many of you said recently in one way or another that I thought I'd share this treatise. Bon appetit.


Everyone likes comments.

There are bloggers who put comments above visits when judging their own success. I’m always pleased to see in the morning several comments stretched over my blogs. In fact nothing makes the process more enjoyable for me than reading a new commenter and seeing them come back.

Over at Jakob Nielsen they determined that reader participation often more or less follows a 90-9-1 rule:

· 90% of users are lurkers (i.e., read or observe, but don’t contribute).
· 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time.
· 1% of users participate a lot and account for most contributions: it can seem as if they don’t have lives because they often post just minutes after whatever event they’re commenting on occurs.

Now it’s true that this ratio is something that you’re just going to have to accept, there will always be a much higher percentage of lurkers. It doesn’t matter who you are. There are some ways to improve upon them though. I’ve sifted through a lot of them and here are what I consider the best ten ways to squeeze those comments out of your readers and of course in doing so make you smile (go on it’s ok - at least a grin).

1. Ask for the comment. Invite your readers to leave a comment or participate. For new readers to your site they may feel a little out of your community. This is your chance to say ‘hey I want to hear what you’ve got!’

2. End your post with a question. This gives a springboard for your readers to know what they can say if they want to comment but not sure what to say.

3. Make it easy to post a comment. If it is too hard to leave a comment who is going to bother? You’re already batting against the 90:9:1 ratio. Don’t make it so your readers have to a particular account to leave a comment. I’m not against the verification text myself to stop spam either.

4. Make friends with other bloggers, by leaving comments and striking up conversations you will often get loyal readers in return. It’s never a good idea to go out of your way to be negative on someone else’s blog because you’ll only hurt your own reputation in the long run.

5. Interact positively with your comments. If someone takes the time to leave a comment you should respond! Even if you don’t agree with what’s said you can always discuss it like an adult without turning it into a negative conversation. Others will see you responding and be encouraged themselves.

As with anything some of these will work for you and others may not. Why not pick one and force yourself to do it for at least 2 weeks to see what difference it makes to the comments.


Harold Phillips said...

All good advice. Really, when you think about it, common sense advice; if you want comments, find ways to invite them.

I don't much care about commentary on my blog, largely because its function is more of an announcement board. If people want to communicate with me I prefer that they do it privately through the email link on the blog or via my MySpace Page... but that's my own personal preference.

(another good way to get comments? Add hypertext links in the body of your post to areas where people can talk back to you :) You don't have to be a web design wizard to do this; just add a little bit of code to your text - http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp. It's more convenient for your readers, too; they can go directly to the place you want them to go!)

But generally, I'm more a lurker by nature, so I never mind if I don't hear from anyone. I can relate :)

Mead said...

Thanks for the good thoughts, Harold, as well as for your super-informative sites -- your personal ones, of course, but also the indispensable pdxbackstage.com.

Anonymous said...

This was interesting to me. I was ashamed about not leaving comments after reading that you were thinking you'd done something wrong to cause people not to respond. It was good you mentioned that. Reading blogs is one way I "connect" with people, being sort of housebound. I liked the idea that nothing was expected of me....gimme, gimme... but now I will again settle back into my own style of mainly just reading without feeling any guilt. I check your site at least twice a day. Love it.

Anonymous said...

Hey now! Where is a comment back from you? Is it something I said......or didn't say? I am being cruel, or trying to be. I see I'm the least interesting person to ever leave a comment. Boo hoo. Sniff, sniff. Where is my crying cloth?

Mead said...

Greetings, QC! Forgive me for shilly-shallying with responses -- Mistletoe Madness is upon us here, and it's going to be frantic at least through Boxing Day. But I was delighted that you were moved to leave behind a response, thank you. And please, always feel free to comment but also to lurk, as you deem fit. Now that I know the vast majority of visitors don't feel the need to comment, my cybersolitude feels less absolute than before.

Nice to know you're out there, though.............

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much. I don't understand some of what you say, but I like it. No reply necessary to this one.