Let’s take a look at why it’s important to focus on fostering a meaningful conversation on your blog. And how to actually do it.
Two Benefits of Fostering Conversation
- It adds depth and value to your posts: Readers share all types of information in their comments. This information, even the questions they ask, add more depth and detail to each post. Together, we can all learn from each other.
- It builds community and increases loyalty: A blog with a lot of good conversation is like another social network. It gives people with common interests a place to hang out and share ideas. And once they feel comfortable, they’re going to stick around.
Tips For Fostering Conversation On Your Blog
- Make time for conversation: The worst thing you can do is ignore the conversation going on around you. Make time to join in. Your readers expect it.
- Ask questions: Don’t just thank your readers for commenting. That puts a halt to the conversation. Ask them a follow-up question to keep the conversation moving forward.
- Answer questions: Answering questions adds more value and depth to each post. It also shows your readers you’re paying attention and it adds to your authority and credibility.
- Track conversations on other blogs: The cool thing about your readers is that they often go talk about your post on other blogs because they’re all part of the same large community. Follow them around and join in the conversation and you’ll attract new readers.
- Add value and depth: Look for every opportunity to chime in and add more value and depth to your post. If one commentor answers another’s question, thank them and add your two cents, too.
- Listen: Really listen to what your readers are saying, no matter where they’re saying it. Watch your social sites, forums and other blogs. Sometimes their conversations off your blog are more intriguing because they think of things they should have said or things they should have asked.
- Express a dissenting opinion: A dissenting opinion almost always helps pick up the momentum. Be careful though. Don’t be the dissenting commentor just to stir up a conversation. Then you’ll just look like an instigator.
- Promote comments: Most platforms offer an RSS feed for comments. If yours doesn’t, look for a plug-in with this capability or manually code in a link. Many commentors will come back to your blog multiple times throughout the day to see what’s happened in the conversation since they left.
- Protect commentors: Don’t let flamers or trolls take over your comments. Your blog is your home and your readers are your guests. You wouldn’t allow someone to come into your home and bully your guests, would you? Protect your guests on your blog. If you don’t have time to moderate comments yourself, maybe one of your readers would be willing or you can outsource it to a virtual assistant.
- Practice what you preach: If you won’t allow negative comments then don’t make them yourself. Treat your commentors the same way you expect them to treat each other.
- Use comments for post ideas: Use your comments as a springboard for new post ideas. This lets your readers see that you really are paying attention. It gives them a sense of ownership in your blog and they’re encouraged to leave even more comments.
- Use email: Most comment forms ask for an email address. Use it to contact your commentors when you’re looking for guest bloggers, long-term contributors, comment moderators, or critiques. Or just pick a commentor once or twice a week and reach out to make a new friend.
- Empower your commentors: Over time your blog might become quite the little beehive of conversation. So much so that you might find it impossible to keep up. Don’t be afraid to let individual commentors step up and assume some responsibility. Monitor the conversations of course to make sure that no one’s feeling bullied, but when you empower your commentors it exponentially increases reader loyalty.