How to write great blog comments
Monday, May 11, 2009
One of the best ways to grow your blog, is to leave it. What I mean by this is leaving comments on other blogs is a great way to create value for others, and ultimately grow awareness for your own blogging efforts.
But not all blog comments are created equal, and here's some of the tips I've learned over the years for writing great blog comments:
1 - Add something to the conversation. Often I will read a post and think 'wow, great post!' But go past that, highlight issues that the blogger addressed, and add your own take. You don't have to agree completely, and you don't have to stick with their point. If one example they mentioned reminds you of another instance from your own experiences, mention that. But try to avoid simply repeating what others have said. And this is easier to do when you...
2 - Comment early. Sure it's nice to let a few people comment first, so then you can build off what they say, as well as the blogger's post. But what if you wait too long and everyone has addressed the points you wanted to raise? And for well-trafficked blogs like Chris Brogan's or Liz Strauss', each post can get dozens of comments, and not everyone will read down if your comment is #37 of 54.
3 - Don't over-promote yourself. @garyvee says that the only link you are ever allowed to share in a comment is the link you get in your name that's hyperlinked back to your blog/site. I tend to agree with this stance, because the fastest way to honk off a blogger, is to leave a comment on their blog, that's really just a commercial for you. You've seen them, the comments that say 'This is a great post, thanks for sharing', then proceed to add 5 lines of bio/site links. Don't be 'that guy', remember that you aren't leaving the comment to promote yourself, you are trying to create value for the blog by adding to the conversation. If you've done your job, you'll get promotion as an indirect result of your efforts.
4 - You can disagree, without being disagreeable. I might be a bit different from some in how I approach disagreements in the comments section, but I love it when readers disagree with my posts, and challenge my points. The biggest reason why, is because when you bring in alternative points, that extends the conversation and gives more people a chance to jump and leave their point of view.
However, always remember that it's ok to 'attack' the ideas, but not the people presenting the ideas. Challenging stances and ideas are fine, but personal attacks add nothing to the conversation, and make you look like a jackass. Not what you want. Feel free to disagree, but don't be disagreeable.
5 - Ask questions. What if you find a post and agree with the post, and everything the commenters have said. Now what? Why not ask a question or bring up a point that no one has raised yet? One thing that often happens, especially on blogs where the writer is very popular, is that the readers may all agree with the writer. Why not offer a contrarian view and bring up the other side of the issue? Again, this helps extend the conversation, and you might find that others will then chime in saying that they agree with your point of view.
6 - Know why you are commenting. Are you leaving a comment to draw attention to yourself, or to add to the conversation? As with most everything else in social media, blog comments work best as a way to INdirectly promote yourself. Write a comment that others find value in, and that encourages others to check out your blog, follow you on Twitter, etc. Write a comment that was clearly intended to promote your blog, and you will likely gain nothing, and hurt your reputation.
These are some tips I have learned from my own experience in writing blog comments. What did I miss that works for you?
Pic via Flickr user Bohman
posted by Mack Collier @ 11:06 AM,
- At 12:22 PM, Marsha Collier said...
Great post. Just curious, how do you handle comments that apply to your third point. It's irritating when a less than thought out comment is followed by a group of self promoting links. Do you choose to approve your comments first and leave these out? How should they be handled?
- At 12:22 PM, Sonny Gill said...
Something you mentioned that deserves its own point is reading the comment discussions. A lot of the time, the greatest nuggets of information come from the comments and the talks going on within.
Helps you get a better sense of what's being discussed outside of just the actual post. This allows you to write your comment so that its better suited for the actual conversation going on and will provide even more value to the discussion.
- At 12:30 PM, Mack Collier said...
Marsha it depends on my mood ;) If the comment is very short and completely generic, something like 'Love your thoughts, so important', and then 5 lines of links, I will often delete it. But if the person leaves something that at least lets me know that they actually wrote this comment out (refer to me by name, or mention a specific point), then I will usually leave the comment.
But if I am feeling snarky, I might leave a comment asking if they only left that short comment so they could get 5 lines of links in? ;)
@sonnygill I am very guilty of not spending enough time reading other comments, but it's a great way to find nuggets, and as I can attest, most of the comments I get on my posts are more insightful than the post itself!
- At 12:47 PM, Stuart Foster said...
The comments section of a blog is one that I really need to spend some more time investing in. I fail to revisit a lot of initial comments that I leave and need to remedy this. However, the only way I tend to go back is if I am sent an email saying another person responded to my comment... Is there another way to get a ping?
- At 1:22 PM, Merritt Alexandra said...
Thanks for posting this. I am fairly new to social media and my blog traffic is slowly increasing. I am fairly confident it's due to me spending a good deal of time commenting on other blogs. Not only does it get my blog out there, but more importantly, I can keep up with what bloggers and readers are talking about! I also spend a great deal of time on Facebook and Twitter... But I really want to reach out to other bloggers in my same arena.
My question is this: What do you think about reaching out to other bloggers personally thru a letter to introduce my site to them and make a connection? And what should that letter look like?
- At 1:32 PM, Mack Collier said...
Merritt that is a GREAT question! Let's use Chris Brogan as an example since I mentioned him in my post.
If I were a new blogger and I wanted to get on Chris' radar, I wouldn't immediately email him introducing my blog. Chris is a nice guy, but gets hundreds of emails a day, so it's tough for him to reply to everyone, esp someone he doesn't know.
So I would first try to contact him via other sites. I'd leave comments on his blog (but again, comments that add value, not just leaving comments to leave comments). I'd reply to him on Twitter.
The point is, I'd try to make sure we had interacted first, before emailing. Then when I emailed, I could point out that I had commented on his blog before, and that we had 'talked' on Twitter. That makes me a bit more 'familiar' to Chris, and increases the chances that he'll check out my blog.
I would NOT ask him to link to my blog, just share the link with him, and ask him to read if he has time, no pressure. And thank him for his time and move on.
The point is, try your best to find some common ground with the people you want to reach out to BEFORE you email them.
Anyone else have advice for Merritt?
- At 3:32 PM, Lisa Gorham said...
Thanks Mack for this insightful post. Until now, I didn't give much thought to commenting on blog entries and have left comments even less. Using these helpful hints, will encourage me to do so more often.
- At 3:32 PM, Dave Fleet said...
Nice post, Mack.
I would add "agreeing to disagree" to your list. You don't have to win the argument if you disagree - heck, it shouldn't be an argument. If the blogger gets what you're talking about but simply doesn't agree, so be it. Don't follow-up with comment after comment trying to prove your point. Get over it and move on.
Harping on repeatedly doesn't add to the conversation and doesn't do your reputation any good either.
- At 3:33 PM, SpinkO said...
Really enjoyed this post. I have a bit of a different view on a couple of your points.
Adding comments that add to the conversation and that do not repeat what has already been said is very important. At the same time, having a newer blog with a smaller community, I still always appreciate even the most simple comments along the lines of "I really enjoyed this post", "thanks for writing about this topic" etc... It's always nice to be reassured that people appreciate what you're writing. This may be less acceptable important for bigger, more popular blogs.
When it comes to links, I agree for the most part, but there have been times when I read a post that discusses a topic that I've already discussed on my blog. When that happens, I usually write my main points in a comment, then link to my original post if people are interested to read more. If you don't have a link that makes a valuable contribution to the conversation, I agree the only link should be in your linked name.
Merritt: I think that's an awesome idea. Again, its a matter of how big/popular the blog is. As Mack stated very correctly, this may not be the best way to reach bloggers like Chris Brogan. For the smaller-mid level bloggers though, I think they'd be happy to check out your blog if you write them a respectful, non-pitch message asking them for their feedback on your new blog.
- At 3:33 PM, SpinkO said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
- At 4:52 PM, AnnaB said...
One of the things I love about blog posts is that they provoke or spark a thought in my head. Once that happens, I feel like I have to comment hoping it's helpful to others. Because there are so many blogs with different points of view, they challenge your thinking and perception. It's at these moments when you have valuable insignt others may not have had, including the blogger him/herself. I find myself coming back to your blog Mack because you have some great insight and you have been at this a long time, which is very impressive and tells me your know your stuff. Keep sparking thoughts in others!
- At 6:17 PM, Trey said...
Mack, great stuff. I just started blogging recently and after attending your Social Media Seminar hadn't but a lot of time and effort into it. I have come to see over the past few weeks that when I take 30 minutes to an hour per day reading blogs and leaving comments, those people then follow me on Twitter, comment on my blog, interact, etc. You are correct that people who comment to "toot their own horn" are a big turn-off.
Commenting on someone's blog is like giving them a pat on the back. Whether you agree with them or not, you took the time to read their post and give you opinion. The more you do this, the better, and it will in turn grow your blog traffic if you are truly adding value and being genuine and authentic.
- At 1:56 AM, Dennis Stevenson said...
I agree. I hate getting self promoting comments. Often, if I'm not feeling snarky at the outset, I do after reading them. So I wrestle with the urge to hit that delete button.
As a blogger, I love comments because they mean something I've written was interesting enough to cause someone to spend a few minutes of their time to share back. It also helps me see where my readers are coming from (something Sitemeter or Google Analytics won't tell me).
As a rule, I try to keep up with the comments and enter into dialog (as you have done here) with the commenters. Dialog is so much more rewarding than just shouting out into the internet.
- At 9:15 AM, LEADSExplorer said...
Or write a comment linking to a similar subject:
14 Reasons why commenting is better than blogging http://bit.ly/u8y2
- At 9:22 AM, Mack Collier said...
LEADSExplorer thanks for leaving that comment, because it brings up an interesting point. What are the boundaries for linking to your own posts in the comments you leave?
Personally, I am ok with people linking to posts/articles they have written that tie into the discussion happening in the comments. But at the same time, that's the first comment I ever remember you leaving here. So I would try to avoid making the first comment you leave on a blog be one that includes a self-promotional link back to your blog. That tends to hack bloggers off if you make a habit of doing it.
- At 10:13 AM, Sam Radford said...
The real question now is whether I now dare leave a comment on a blog post about what blog post comments should be like!
Thanks though, it was helpful for me to read and definitely highlights an area I need to get better at.
One question I do have though is actually more to do with how you go about building a blog which cultivates people actually leaving comments and moving from passive readers to proactive contributors. Any thoughts?
- At 10:35 AM, Arik C. Hanson, APR said...
One thing I like to do, when possible, when leaving comments, is link to other relevant posts. For example, as I'm commenting on David Mullen's blog about a post around the biggest mistakes PR pros make, I'm reminded of a post from Shonali Burke about a similar topic that I think may add value. Always link to those posts, instead of just mentioning them. It will add value to the discussion (the reader and original blogger will get the benefit of visiting that second post, too) and it will result in additional traffic for the second blogger (in this case, Shonali).
- At 12:45 PM, Tom Bunzel said...
I am just getting used to the shift from self promotion to adding value and building trust--I do it more in my personal life but less in business because there is so much fear built up around getting more business. It's also a lot easier to see shameless self promotion in others than in yourself. The other fear is lack of time--blogging and commenting take a lot of time and then there is the rest of life and work to consider, so people short change themselves by thinking they have to make posts count with self promotion. It's so interesting how this shift to adding value resonates wtih issues of personal growth and even meditation--the more you relax and stop struggling the more good things come back, but it takes courage to do that.
So anyway, now that I've commented meaningfully, I am entitled to plug my blog: Tom Bunzel
- At 4:54 PM, Niall said...
I can smell a comment a mile off that has been left just to get traffic back to the persons blog. The question I have though is should you publish them or not? I tend to just publish everything except the ones that link more than once
- At 1:09 PM, Lauren Vargas said...
So often when people begin blogging they forget about the interactive action...commenting! Not just on own blog, but others! When I assign my students creation of blogs, they are also given assignment to comment at least six times on other marcom blogs. A comment such as, "I really enjoyed your post" does not fly if you are my student. The comment needs to be constructive and continue dialog. I will begin sharing this post with students when I assign them blog/comment creation!
- At 12:21 PM, Jody Gnant said...
Great post - as always!
- At 10:00 AM, flower said...
That's the truth-its working, but don't forget- there are two types of links- follow and non follow- and most of the blog platforms using non follow links-so whatever Ill post a comment-it wont work
- At 8:52 AM, said...
The worst comments you get have to be "wow what an interesting post" or "very helpful post, thanks". There are so many spammers out there its hard to tell which people actually do find your posts interesting and helpful. These comments really do not help the progression of the blog.
There should be some kind of script or something available to stop these kind of comments along with the usual blatant spam you get.
Any one know of any useful wordpress plugins that could help filter these out?
- At 2:56 PM, Matthew Meyer said...
I think everyone is too sensitive. If the comment is relevant I do not mind them having some sort of link back to their website as long as the website is relevant. We should share in the wealth a little bit and not be so self righteous. Everyone is trying to make a living. Let's not be hypocrites.
- At 12:55 AM, Rose DesRochers said...
Mack, you have some great suggestions here. I think engaging readers and adding your point to a discussion is important. What is your view on generic comments? Would love your feedback.
- At 8:04 AM, Mack Collier said...
Hey Rose! Not sure if I know what you mean by 'generic' comments. Do you mean automated, or do you mean leaving something simple like 'Great post!'?
Assuming it's the latter, I think that's fine on occasion. I often do this on Ann Handley's blog simply because she's such a good writer that nothing I can leave in the comments is going to be worthy of her writing. But I want to say 'something' to thank her for her amazing writing.
I think in general, if you are putting forth the effort to contribute as you can, everyone will pick up on that. And commenting is like anything else, the more you do it the better you get at it!
- At 7:25 PM, Astaga.com lifestyle on the net said...
The reason a list works is because it’s a good way to format an article for easy reading.
- At 10:28 AM, Jobs in Manchester said...
Is it classed as spam if the author contributes to the article while still plugging their own site in the link they have in their name?
Or even if they don't use there name and just use the keywords they are targeting their sites at?
Personally i tend to think that it probably is spamming but as long as a decent contribution is made to the blog (as i hope mine is), then it shouldn't be such a big deal should it?
- At 7:09 PM, Anita Narayan said...
I was reading the various comments with great interest. I agree that all blogs should provide value, and that sometimnes getting the balance between providing value and promoting a blog is a fine art.
I have been told for example that my blog is tame as it provides lots of info but I have very little monetary promotion???
I believe if you give value then getting valuable feedback should also be part of the mix.
Unfortunately my experience as a relative new blogger has been mixed and I had to change my settings from accepting comments to having people log in to comment because I was getting what appeared to be automatic links coming back from pornographic sites.
How does one prevent this whilst enabling those who are genuine to comment??
Personal Transformation Expert
- At 6:12 AM, Twitter Software said...
Great post. I think comments need to add to the discussion, especially if you're hoping to use the comment to generate traffic to your own site!
- At 6:41 PM, Advisors said...
Very informative post, thanks for sharing. See you again.
- At 1:42 PM, neha said...
thanx for such a useful post abount commenting and technique to drive traffic..
- At 5:02 PM, Anders Vinther said...
I'm just starting out using Wordpress, but I have found a couple of options to limit automatically generated comments... they might be useful to other people... one is called Cookies for Comments and the other is called WP-SpamFree...
They both work by setting a cookie in the browser when someone writes a comment, and if that cookie is not there when a comment is posted it is highly likely it has been made by a robot, and can therefore safely be discarded...
Should cut down on the spam factor...
- At 3:28 AM, said...
Very interesting post - Might be old new, but it was new to me.
- At 7:52 PM, Lizzie said...
Great post, and although I just broke one of your "rules" by posting late, I'm going to continue this post anyway. All of my comments come through my personal email before they reach the blog, so they are all approved by me. I'm having quite a hard time getting people interested in my own blog, but hopefully I'll think up something. I'm working on producing a web show for on Youtube as well, so maybe that will help some. And it's funny because I've got more interest in my French Class Blog (The Creative French Monster) than in my normal (WDW Kids) blog.
- At 7:57 AM, Bulk SEO Content said...
There's a fine line between a blog comment, good bad a blog comment. This is really an agreement between a comment that is excellent and a comment that is totally unnecessary. More and more online sellers are aspiring to jump on board with little or no awareness of the importance of making sensible comments on blogs. Thanks for sharing your words with us.
- At 1:38 AM, Green Webster said...
i want to add some thing in your post .Many people comments very long and some time not on topic.
As my experience. Blog post should be 2 to 3 sentences at least and the statement in the blog posting should be relevant to the topic and bit informative too for the readers.
- At 2:22 PM, Luke said...
Mack, I have found a lot of comments are not even on topic, so I do not approve those. If they are on topic and add something to the subject, then I normally approve them.
I definitely like to discuss the subject matter over comments, but do not find that many folks that are that engaged to have a great conversation via comments. It could be my blog subject that does not lend itself to great conversation.
- At 6:18 AM, Fire Pit said...
Hey nice information on commenting a blog.
- At 10:43 AM, Mark said...
Thank You! This is reaally useful!!
- At 9:40 AM, Phil the essay tutor said...
Thanks so much, Mack. There are too many blog posts about writing blog posts, but this is actually the first one I ever encountered about posting good comments. I hope this was a good comment :)
- At 1:07 AM, Cheap Logo Design said...
thanks for this great post. really informative thing you shared with us. there are a lots of information.
- At 5:46 AM, Garden Furniture said...
This is simply the best post. As you could say it from the comments that you have received. Splendid job. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.
- At 4:27 AM, Cheap SSL said...
Any thoughts on leaving it so you have to approve the first comment by someone, but everything else from the same person goes through after that? That’s how I’ve always had my set, but I’d change it if you don’t think that’s a good idea?
- At 7:43 AM, David said...
This was by far one of the most interesting (or should I say entertaining) threads I read in awhile, not for the obvious reason one my think. Yes as a newbie I also find this very informative and helpful and have certainty learned a thing or two. But what I enjoyed the most was reading everyone's comments and observing how they do the delicate dance of following the guidelines mentioned but still actually following their own style. Well here I am doing the same dance.
By the way I disagree with the issue around links to sights being relevant. If this guideline was followed in all cases 50% of these comments would not have made it to here. Also just because someone may be voicing a different message on his website does not mean he does not have a contribution to make in another. I was wondering what is the difference between a follow link and not follow link please? How do I know which one is relevant when leaving comments?
Thanks again for the great post.
- At 11:26 PM, Jessica Moreno said...
You have the point. Comments section nowadays is very important in blogging .
Anyways what do you think of a guest posting ? and what are the advantages and disadvantages of those kind of post ?
Thanks for the great post :)