The Future of Blog Comments

Despite a 20% increase in website traffic over the past year, comments on this blog are declining and that’s frustrating. This blog has never really been a comment magnet. Most posts would attract a few, thoughtful comments. But lately the crickets have been chirping. Even when I write a high-traffic post like: What’s the best time to post on Facebook?, I only get one comment (thanks Erin!). So what’s up?

Are comments just something we used to do? Do we write blog posts simply to have links to post on Facebook and Twitter? I’m being facetious, of course. Blogging is content marketing, search engine juice, and a credibility podium.  But still, bloggers crave those comments. Comments are validation that people care about what you’re saying. When a blogger sees a comment on a post, it’s like “Yes! They chose me to be on their dodge ball team!” Followed by a strut around the keyboard before posting a response. I’m doing less and less strutting, and I think other bloggers are too.

Over on BlogHer, Loralee Choate blames Facebook for lowering blog comments. And it seems that no one is immune. Just to make myself feel better, I checked out uber-blogger Chris Brogan’s comment traffic to see if comment decline was even affecting The Trust Agent. In April 2010, Chris had an average of 51 comments per post, in April 2011 there were only 42 comments per post. So is Facebook to blame or is blog commenting just a fading fad? The other question is: What to do about it?

One idea is to pull a Seth and just not allow any comments whatsoever. That seems a little rash, and probably not a good idea. I’ve met several people through my blog comments, including Eric Brown, who has become a good friend. What I’ve decided to do instead is change my equipment.

When your golf game sucks, you blame it on the clubs and buy a new driver. So, I’m applying that principle to my blog. Last week I learned about a new comment management system called Livefyre. My friend Judy Dunn (who I met through this blog) installed it on her CatsEyeWriter blog to increase comment action. She describes it here: A Livefyre Test Drive. Judy inspired me to install the Livefyre comment management system on The Marketing Spot blog over the weekend. That’s what you’ll see at the end of this post. Some of you will like it, others won’t.

What you won’t like about it:

You can’t login with your own website URL – One reason people comment on blogs is to get links and traffic back to their own blog/website. Can’t do that with Livefyre, at least not yet.

What you will like about it:

You can log in just about any other way you want: Twitter, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Open ID, or you can create a LiveFyre account and log in that way.

Live Action Comments – You can see who’s presently commenting and have a nearly live comment conversation.

Conversation – You can reply to specific comments

Comment Following – Get email notices when a new comment or reply is posted.

Social media comment sharing – Directly to Facebook or Twitter

And lots of other good stuff. Check out, leave a comment. What’s the future of blog comments? Do you like Livefyre? Please leave a comment…I’m not really begging.


Don’t miss out on free marketing advice. For updates on new articles: Receive The Marketing Spot by Email or subscribe in a blog reader.

20 comments
Curtman40
Curtman40

I think blog commenting is a great way to get your site and message out their to the masses.

WoW_Account
WoW_Account

I blame authors (Sorry! :P) for it. They are too quick to deny negative comments and feedback.

ClickConspiracy
ClickConspiracy

Interesting points. Looking forward to seeing where the practice of blog commenting ends up over the next few years (especially with the introduction of comment widgets such as Facebook, disqus and [as I see you're using] livefyre)

llcavall
llcavall

BradShorr and KirstenSF hit on the 2 key points I see as why comments are likely declining - the ease of commenting on something like a FB vs. a slightly more cumbersome blog comment, and the huge # of "silent lurkers" out there. And a question about where to comment on a blog post - let's take a business that has a FB page and a blog (as many businesses do). A new blog post is published, and a link to the new blog post goes up on the FB page. Comments now may be posted on the blog itself in the comment section, or (shorter) comments on the blog could appear on FB under the post with the link to the blog (could be in cases where someone reads the whole blog post and comes back to FB (where they originally started from) to comment, or one could just skim the headlines and summary as it appears on FB) - anyone have issues with this out there? Blog comments on different platforms for the same blog post?

jkretch
jkretch moderator

Great post @JayEhret ! Jordan from @livefyre here. Everything we do is to help bloggers get more conversations around their content, and help build communities through great dialogue. This is just the start of it, we have some really exciting features coming that we think everyone will like (including a Comment LUV feature that should go over pretty wel ;-)

Glad you're giving us a go, and our community team is watching for feedback!

jonathansaar
jonathansaar

It has been up and down for both my blog sites Jay. I agree with you that commenting on blogs just helps with validation of the post. I think it is a phase right now to be honest with you. I personally went through a thinning out process a month ago. I had to sit back and analyze which writers I connected with and why and which ones were just not cutting it anymore. People only have so much time and we are going through a huge fad phase right now where there are more bloggers than you can shake a stick at. When the dust settles the shift will change once again. Until then as with all marketing shifts the blogging ranks will thin out as a result of lack of definitive results on their end and they will move on to the next shiny thing. Those who have been there from the beginning will continue to ride the storm and make sure their PNL is sound. It will be interesting to see where this conversation will be a year from now. Thanks for the post Jay.

KirstenSF
KirstenSF

For people who get your blog delivered via email, there's an additional step of actually getting to your live blog in order to leave a comment. Since humans are inherently lazy, this may be at least one cause. I write a column for an online newspaper and have yet to get a comment on that site. I get plenty of activity on Facebook about what I write and have been contacted personally through email but absolutely nothing on the public comment area. I think a bit of it has to do with us becoming content generating and consuming machines in the social media sphere, and continuing to move away from actual interaction.

There are probably many folks out there just like me who enjoy reading your blog but tend to remain silent lurkers.

Kirsten

Jim Jones
Jim Jones

Jay, I am an avid golfer. When people suck, it's not their equipment, it's their swing. People buy new drivers because marketers are smart.

I enjoy your insight on marketing, but you missed the mark on this one. In your post, you didn’t make a case for why comments are important. Your main point seems to be that you need comments to validate that world cares about your insight. To apply the golf example, maybe it’s not your blog that needs fixed, but your ego.

In golf, people are always ready to provide unsolicited advice, so here is mine for your comments situation: Your posts are fantastic and helpful to marketers. Don’t feel bad if people don’t comment, it doesn’t mean they don’t care. Keep doing what you are doing because it makes the world a better place. No I am not being facetious, keep up the good work and don’t worry if people don’t post.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

I've also heard from one person that they had trouble posting a comment with Livefyre. If that's you too, email me at jay@themarketingspot.com

BradShorr
BradShorr

Hi Jay, I think social media in general is having an impact on blog commenting. Four or five years ago, blogs were pretty much the only social platform, but that's certainly changed. Blog conversations are still valuable. Because there are no word limits, post comments can generate in-depth conversation you can't match on Twitter or Facebook. However, most of us are in a hurry and Twitter and Facebook offer immediate social gratification. Plus, on these platforms you feel like everybody is already "there", whereas with a blog, it feels like it's just you and the blogger. I think on some level that discourages commenting as well. Good luck with your new commenting app - I'd be surprised if any technological solution will make a difference, though. No matter how fast conversation enhancers evolve for blogs, they'll evolve faster for Facebook, and maybe Twitter as well.

derickbailey
derickbailey

i suffer from the same need for attention on my blog. it drives me nuts when i have a string of posts that don't draw any comments.

interesting choice of comment platform. i have not heard of livefyre. it looks and acts similarly to the disqus.com comment system that i use on my blogs, though. although i think competition is good, it makes me sad that i'll have to deal with two social-media-comment systems now... both livefyre and disqus. though livefyre does seem to have a few advantages over disqus, currently - namely, the live loading of comments, etc.

JudyDunn
JudyDunn

Okay, Jay, since you're really not begging, I'm going to leave a comment. : )

Thanks for the mention here, my friend. By the way, I haven't been over here since you switched to your loverly WordPress Blog (shame on me). Nice job.

So far, I have mixed reactions from my readers on my move to livefyre. It will be interesting to watch the commenting numbers. I think that Twitter and Facebook have both had an impact on blog comments. I am not so freaked out about my comment numbers as I used to be because from my analytics, I know way more people are reading. But I agree with you: I love the interactions and the community building that happen there.

I do have some questions from my readers that I am going to present to the livefyre folks, so I can include as many answers as possible in my follow-up post. My bottom line? If most of my readers like it, it stays. If not, it will go.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@llcavall It would be interesting to see some stats on this. Occasionally I will have someone post a blog comment on the Facebook status update.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@jonathansaar That's one thing I hadn't considered, Jonathan, just too many blogs out there.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@KirstenSF Thanks for being a silent, or in this case a vocal, lurker. Good point about the email subscriptions. That's probably also true for RSS readers. I have to remember that's the majority of people who read this blog.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@Jim Jones Jim, my golf club comment was obviously a weak attempt at humor and a poke at my own ego. My main point of this post was to stimulate a discussion on blog comments so that I can test Livefyre.

Thanks for your advice and encouragement. Like it or not, comments are a form of keeping score. So yes, part of this is about validation. Publishing post after post with no comments can be demoralizing. Maybe it shouldn't, but sometimes it is.

JudyDunn
JudyDunn

@Jim Jones This is an interesting discussion. For me, blogger's ego doesn't factor in.(Not sure I even have an ego and I would say the same about Jay.) : )

I depend on reader comments partly to find out what needs and concerns are and craft posts, products and services to meet them. I wrote a post recently on that at For Bloggers By Bloggers: "7 Ways to Use Your Blog as a Lab, Even if You Sucked at Science":

http://bestbloggingtipsonline.com/7-ways-to-use-your-blog-as-a-lab-even-if-you-sucked-at-science/

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@BradShorr I like your term "social gratification." Your reasons are all valid, Brad, and the time crunch is real. I guess I'm just old-fashioned about my new media.

One thing about blog comments, though, is that they have a semi-permanent life. Try to find some of your important old tweets and status updates.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@derickbailey Livefyre is still a new platform and I know they working to integrate with other systems, namely Comment Luv. I haven't really been a fan of Disqus and avoided installing it here. But if you pressed me for a reason, I don't know that I'd have a good one.

JayEhret
JayEhret moderator

@JudyDunn I'm not as freaked out about it as I am disappointed. More people are reading, and I guess I should be satisfied with that.

Perhaps the heydays of blog commenting are past.and all the conversation happens on social media now. Although I don't find social media conversation nearly as engaging or insightful. In fact, most tweets and status updates in my streams are people sharing links. Maybe link-sharing is the new language of conversation.

JudyDunn
JudyDunn

@JayEhret I HOPE link sharing is not the future of "conversation." It certainly isn't a way to build community.

I love the discussions in the comments. I especially like stepping back and letting my readers have conversations with each other. : )

Powered by WishList Member - Membership Software