Reader Interaction: How To Use It To Create More Actionable Content

Steven3 responsesBlogging
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I’ll let you in on a little secret. Even though I talk about blogging and making money online, I like to visit this one particular celebrity blog every day when I take a break for lunch. It let’s me see how they handle the reader interaction in a highly popular niche. This blog is run by two bloggers and they post about a dozen times a day. But their posts are just the beginning because the bulk of the activity in this blog takes place in the comments.

The average post length on this celebrity blog is only about 200 words, which is pretty crazy when you consider that so many bloggers think if a post isn’t at least 1,000 words long it doesn’t provide any value. But like I said, the value on this celebrity blog only starts with the post. Most of it’s in the comments.

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And here’s the real kicker – these bloggers never reply to comments. Most posts get well over 150 comments, some get 300, 500 or more, and the commentors are actually carrying on a conversation with each other. Even more surprising? You rarely – if ever – see the words “Great post.” Every comment is simply a continuation of the conversation that started with the post.

Now, I know you’re going to say those 1,000-word blog posts get lots of comments, too, and you’re right. They do. However, look a little closer. How valuable are those comments? Do they add anything to the conversation? For that matter – is there a conversation? Is there any real interaction and engagement?

Look a little closer at those comments and most of them can be condensed down into seven words – “Great Post! Thank you for the link!

How To Build Reader Interaction

Tell Your Readers To Interact:

Use a call to action at the end of each post that encourages your readers to interact, and change it up from post to post. The celebrity blog uses phrases like:

  • Interact!
  • Discuss it among yourselves
  • We don’t know. Do you?
  • What do you think?
  • React NOW!
  • Tell us what YOU think

Give Them A Reason To Interact

If you look at comments as the conversation that occurs after a topic is introduced then you can see there are so many possibilities. Why stop at “Please leave a comment?” Because, really, if you were talking with a group of people in “real” life, you wouldn’t introduce a topic and say, “Your comment, please?

This particular celebrity blog frequently sets up the conversation at the end of a post by including a small poll. They say something like, “We’re not sure what to make of this so we’re asking you. Do you think her Red Carpet dress was totally horrible, tres chic, or designed by a psychotic maniac? Tell us what you think then discuss it among yourselves.

My point is, we tend to treat comments as an after-thought. We want them, and when they show up we think we’re engaging our readers. But if all you’re getting is a comment that can be boiled down to “Nice post” then you’re not really engaging your reader. Focus on giving your readers a reason to interact, not just leave a comment.

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  1. It probably doesn’t hurt when the topic/people are somewhat controversial. Comments can then be quick gut responses about what readers love and hate and, let’s face it, people often have immediate visceral reactions to celebrities, politics, parenting styles and so on. Thus readers can rapidly respond, release their pent up energy around what appalls or impresses them, and then wait to see who aligns or opposes them. It’s energetically compelling for those who are interested in such things.

    Interesting, I got the impression you were limiting the number of characters allowed in the post (Twitter-esque) and then I was told I was too brief and not saying anything significant. Now *there’s* a topic for engagement!

  2. Steve,reader engagement is an enigmatic. I think many post on celebrity posts to leave a witty or intelligent comment to be noticed by the celebrity. As Christy Johnson points out, controversy often fuels the conversation. Your thought-provoking post causes me to ponder what value, if any, most bloggers provide in their content. This sometimes stymies when I decide on a topic to blog about. Thanks for the food for thought!

  3. Eli@coachdaddy

    On great blogs, there’s almost another post in the comments. It’s like it takes a life of its own! I love that, and I would love to create that. In fact, I’m going to go back to the post I published today and add a call to action.

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