Last week a blogging friend and I were talking about comments and community. She wondered what she was doing wrong because her blog posts yielded very few comments and when there were comments they were along the lines of “I agree,” or “Yes I did,” or “no I don’t.” Responses were brief and left no room for further conversation.
The Problem With the Yes and No
Here’s the thing about community. Sometimes they show up on their own, but most of the time they’re waiting for an invitation. They’re not invasive and most don’t like to share their opinions unless they’re asked to do so. When your blog post only asks a “Yes” or “No” question, you’re only going to receive “Yes” or “No” answers. And, really, where’s the fun in that?
Yes and no don’t invite discussion. They invite one words responses. Folks coming to seek a good conversation aren’t going to stick around if a good conversation isn’t happening. It’s not enough to ask if someone disagrees, knowing why they disagree is just as important – and it’s when you get past the “ifs” and into the “whys” that the true conversational magic happens.
Do you take the time to ask your readers what they think? Or do you only ask if they agree?
The Problem With Making Statements
Statements don’t invite conversation. They mostly say, “this is how I feel but I’m not interested in knowing how you feel.” For your readers to want to comment you have to go beyond the statement and into the conversation.
- Create blog posts that leave room for discussion
- Don’t be afraid to ask the kinds of questions that lead to in depth responses
- It’s OK to be controversial now and then as long as you’re inviting the right kinds of discussions and not turning your blog into a hotbed of negativity.
- Allow for respectful disagreement. Know it’s OK for folks to disagree, but draw the line at pettiness, fights, attacks and sniping.
- Don’t beg for comments, but be sure your community knows you value their opinion.
Statements don’t allow for the above. Instead they’re mostly pontificating and they tell your readers you don’t care enough about their opinions to leave them opportunity to encourage conversation.
Do you blog to create a statement or do you blog to create a conversation?
Planning an Open Ended Blog Post
I think the key to blog conversation is in creating blog posts with discussion in mind. When you’re planning out the post, plan out the conversation. What do you hope your readers will take away from the post, and what do you hope they’ll talk about in the ensuing discussion? These are things to think about before you begin writing.
For example, my hope with this post is to have a conversation about engagement and what bloggers can do to foster a discussion about the topic at hand. If I did my job properly, you’re going to read this post and have an opinion that you’d like to share with this community. Also, if I did my job properly, the questions in this post will not only inspire conversation it will also inspire you to engage your own community. What I’m hoping won’t happen is to be met with the sound of crickets.
I answered these questions before I wrote this post:
- Why am I writing this post?
- Who am I writing this post for?
- Does anyone want this information?
- If I were reading this post, what would make me want to comment?
- What do I want to learn from my community about this topic?
- Am I the only one who feels this way?
- What questions are YOU going to come up with after reading this post?
- Did I offer an opportunity for other people to join in?
To me, it makes no sense to blog if comments aren’t going to happen, and comments aren’t going to happen if I don’t give you something to talk about.
What do you do to create an open ended conversation with your readers?