I’ve been thinking about how I engage with other people’s blogs recently, and why I stop reading them, or choose particular ones to cull when I feel like I have too much to read. Here I share a couple of top two tips for engagement – and the top reason I personally disengage from blogs.
Blogging is (usually) social
Blogging is in the main a social activity. If you don’t want people to read your words, you’re more likely to write them in a journal or in a document stored privately, aren’t you?
And you’re going to want feedback from people – your readers. You might look at your statistics and know that people are reading your words, but you also want comments, other people’s words, saying they hear you, they agree, maybe they respectfully disagree, but they’re engaging with you.
Edited to add: It’s been pointed out to me that some people do (and it’s of course completely their right to do this) use their blog as a kind of diary, a point of self-reflection, but choose to place that online rather than privately. That’s obviously completely fair enough. But such blogs don’t tend to call for answers, ask questions, look overtly for back-up or seek to engage in the way I’m talking about. If you do seek to engage, it’s good to engage back. If you don’t choose to, that’s fine, as long as it’s an active choice and you realise that might put off some readers if you were hoping to engage them. I hope that’s clearer and more inclusive now.
Business blogging is social
I read a lot of book review blogs and a lot of editing and business blogs, too. Blogging isn’t only social for the nice person sharing review of books – it’s a way for businesses, large and small, to engage. I’m thrilled when the how-to articles on this blog get liked and commented on – often many years after I first posted them. Sometimes it’s just to say thank you, sometimes to ask a question, but I always appreciate the effort that someone’s gone to to click and type.
I also like commenting on people’s blogs if I can contribute something, whether that’s a word of appreciation, a “me, too” or an answer to a question posed in the article.
Engage with your commenters
The number one reason why I disengage from a blog (after the blogger ceasing to write it and finding offensive content) is when the blogger doesn’t respond to comments. I’m not talking not responding to a few here and there, or taking a while to respond, but when a blogger either only responds to one or two obviously favoured commenters, or just none at all. Ever.
Respond to comments with a comment
So I’d suggest that if you want to maintain engagement with your readers and stop your blog leaking readers, you should consider replying to your comments, even if only with a thank you or a few words. It makes the commenter feel read, feel appreciated, feel like they’re being talked to, and builds reciprocity and connections. Going by my sample of one, they’re more likely to stick with your blog and read it through thick and thin, engage with it and share it. And that’s what we want, isn’t it?
Consider adding a like button to your comments
I’ve previously explained how to do this for WordPress.com – you can easily add a “Like” button to your comments, so you can like someone’s comment and they can like your response. I love this – it’s a great short-cut if you don’t have time to reply to a comment right now, and for the original commenter to acknowledge that they’ve seen your reply to them.
Nobody’s perfect and nobody should feel they have to be
I’ll hold my hands up now and say that I know I have not personally responded in full to every single “Thank you, you saved my document” post on this blog. I do try to Like such comments now I have my Like buttons, and if someone asks me a question, I’ll always answer it to the best of my ability, as for clarification or say I’m going to leave it up there because I don’t know the answer but someone else might.
If you dig around on this blog, you will find comments that haven’t been answered (please don’t, though – I have admitted it!) but in the main I like and reply.
Obviously, people go away, people get ill, people have scheduled times away from their blog – and sometimes schedule posts to publish in the meantime. And you don’t always want to advertise you’re away, right? But the bloggers I love will explain this, maybe afterwards: “I’ve been away and I’ll catch up with your comments now I’m back; sorry if I miss any”. Others do talk about a gap in advance, and of course that’s all fine and understandable. No one should be chained to their blog – but if you allow comments, it’s my personal opinion that you should respond to those comments if you can.
What do you think?
If you comment on blog posts, do you expect a reply or acknowledgement? Do you reply to people’s comments on your blog? What’s the top reason you turn away from reading a blog? I’d really like to know!
Other relevant posts on this blog
Reciprocity and Social Media – how to negotiate social media kindly and politely
How to maintain a good online reputation – my hints and tips
10 reasons to start a blog – why you should do it now!
10 reasons NOT to write a blog – and why you should stop and think, at least!
Top 10 blogging sins – avoid these if you can!
Scheduling blog posts and keeping going – scheduling the posts and the writing of them