Recently I’ve seen a lot of bloggers lamenting the lack of comments on their blogs. I don’t want to call anyone out, but I’ve seen some bloggers even say they’re even going to quit blogging because of it. That’s a pretty extreme stance and not a feeling I relate to (despite often getting no comments on what I consider to be “pretty good” posts) but clearly something has changed when it comes to commenting and bloggers are very aware of it.
I think the real reason I’ve never been that fussed about the steep decline of comments on my blog over recent years is that I know the conversation hasn’t stopped, it has just moved.
Instead of getting comments here, I get them on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. I’ve even started getting them as private messages on Snapchat. And what has really surprised me recently, although I bloody love it, is that I’ve started to get a noticeable increase in emails from readers. Generally these are about the more “personal” topics, where perhaps people don’t want to add their comment publicly with a great big avatar, full name and URL for the world to see, but these emails are lengthy and heartfelt and I find it really rewarding that people take the time to write them.
And quality of comments does matter, in my humble opinion. I’d rather see a blog post with three comments where the comments are adding valuable insight: “I tried this and found that. Have you tried xyz? My experience was blah blah blah and I reckon you’d really like it” rather than 50 comments of “nice dress hun, love that candle! would mean the world to me if you’d check out my blog at xyz dot com”. I don’t want to receive a bunch of comments from people who have only commented because they want me to click on their blog and comment back. This isn’t a 2006 web 2.0 masterclass.
I still hear bloggers say that it’s important to brands for blog posts to get lots of comments but I’d like to think brands are savvy enough to look at more important metrics these days, like conversion to sales. (Heaven forbid someone would actually look into conversions eh?). The brands that work with me time and time again do so because they know my audience is genuinely engaged, despite the fact my following on some social platforms might be substantially less than others and that I regularly receive ZERO comments on blog posts.
I’ve noticed many big sites have turned off comments altogether, whether that’s a time management thing or simply to force the conversations to happen more “in the open” on social platforms I don’t know. Neither The Debrief or The Pool allow comments, but I see and partake in conversations around their content on Twitter all the time.
Another reason I’m not so fussed about blog comments? I know how rarely I leave comments myself. There are blogs that I read every single day which I have never commented on. I don’t feel guilty about that (maybe I should?!) because I know many others are the same. We’re all busy, for gawd’s sake. Half of us are only able to catch up on blog posts while we nip to the toilet or wait for the bus or do a night feed, to then fiddle about logging in to leave a comment might prevent me from reading that other blog post of yours that I’ve been looking forward to reading. And that’s aside from the fact that I often don’t actually have anything to add as a comment, it’s more of a diligent nodding of the head and thinking “yes, quite right”.
I did a poll on Twitter yesterday to see if I was alone in being particularly bad at leaving comments and I’m certainly not. 443 people answered (thank you, you lovely lot!) and a whopping 78% said they do not regularly leave comments. As I expected a lot of people replied to say that they do still join in on conversations around blog posts but that, like me, it tends to happen on Instagram and Twitter.
For the 22% who still do regularly leave comments on blogs, three quarters of them were bloggers themselves. It’s impossible to tell from such a rudimentary Twitter poll whether that’s a mix of bloggers being more able to appreciate the time it takes to write a blog post, bloggers knowing how lovely it feels to get a comment or simply self-promotion or SEO strategy.
Am intrigued to see answers to this: Do you regularly leave comments on blog posts and are you a blogger?
— Poppy Dinsey (@PoppyD) December 6, 2015
But whilst I may not comment on blogs very often (I actually can’t remember the last time I did), I do comment on blog posts via Instagram and Twitter every single day. Without fail. It’s easier for me (I’m on Twitter/Insta anyway) and it’s better for everyone because I can sort of do a comment/RT mash-up. I know I’d much rather someone tweeted my blog post with their additional commentary because then more people will read it. In the past few weeks alone I can think of countless blog posts that I’ve read because of the discussion taking place on Twitter about them. Same goes for Instagram. If I see lots of women chatting about a post in the Instagram comments you can bet your bottom dollar I’ll click out to read it. (Bet your bottom dollar? Hi Poppy have you been singing Annie songs alone in your kitchen again?).
The other issue of course is that if you leave a comment on a blog post, will you remember to check back later to see if there were ever any replies? I am SO bad at replying to blog comments. I often think I have and then realise two weeks later that I, errrrr, haven’t. That’s massively bad form on my part, but there are just SO MANY PLATFORMS to keep up with. I will *always* reply to Twitter and Instagram comments pretty quickly though, simply because I’m always there and logged in and READY FOR THEM.
The Twitter/Insta commenting does lead to a problem though: what happens when the conversations about a blog post that happen elsewhere are REALLY REALLY HELPFUL but nobody who reads the blog post will ever find them?
This is an issue I’ve been thinking about a lot. Occasionally I’ve gone back to a blog post and added a link at the end saying something like “There has been some really insightful feedback to this topic on *this Instagram post*, do click through to that to see what more women who tried it had to say” ya de ya dah. It’s clunky but it works quite well for Instagram as the relevant comments are likely to all be under one image. Twitter is a lot more disjointed. You could embed one tweet and hope all the relevant replies are linked to it, but people often tweet useful comments long after the blog post or simply reply with their comments to different irrelevant tweets.
I hate thinking that people who find a blog post further down the line (let’s not forget that people constantly stumble upon blog posts from YEARS ago) miss out on all the insightful interactions that have taken place as there’s nothing actually there in the comment section itself.
I’m tempted to try something out where I Storify responses to blog posts and embed them at the end of posts. It would be a massive time-suck, but it could lead to better conversations and more helpful blog content for everyone. After all, I know that I’ve often bought products or tried new things purely because of a helpful comment from a randomer, rather than because of something the original blogger said.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this but it seems ironic to say “leave a comment” after this lengthy post, doesn’t it? So feel free to comment ANYWHERE. Here. Instagram. Twitter. Email. Whatever takes your fancy.
I will try to collate Twitter replies in a Storify and it can be my first “test” of whether or not this could be a worthwhile thing to do for future posts. I think it could be, if I can keep on top of it!
So is commenting a dying art? Or has it just moved? Are comment sections on blog posts still THE VERY BEST THING?