August 21, 2014

Do You Blog With The Comments On?

It’s a timeless debate: When you start a blog do you turn comments on to get a discussion going or do you keep them off so you don’t have to moderate them?

Personally, I’ve always believed that your small business blog needs comments. As a blogger and community person, I enjoy sharing and reading new opinions. I tend to believe that the comments are where the real magic happens within a blog. However, I realize an argument can be made on both sides. I’m actually noticing that many of the blogs I once loved are now making the decision to turn OFF comments, either citing SEO or time issues.

Here are some arguments PRO and CON for blog comments. Let me know where do you fit in.

Why Allow Blog Comments?

It creates a community: Having comments open on your blog is a bit like sitting on your front porch in the evening. It lets people know you’re home and invites them to stop over if they want to talk. On your blog, opening up comments invites a community to congregate on your site. People can interact when they have something to say and they become active members of what you’re building. That’s when they become invested in your success and will actually help you achieve it. As a blogger, I don’t think there’s anything worse than reading a post you’re really passionate about (either positively or negatively) and not having a place to respond to it. It’s a turn off and makes me wonder if you really care about your audience.

You have better discussions: As a small business owner, opening up blog comments can really improve the quality of the discussions you’re having on your site. Mostly because it allows you to have them. When you invite people to share their own opinion or insight you may learn things you weren’t previously aware of. You may hear about new tools, a new way of running your business or a different approach to a common problem you’re facing. They say that two minds are better than one, and that holds true when adding more voices to a blog. It gives you a more complete picture.

Learn about your audience: Reading the comments that customers leave on your blog will help you learn more about them, allowing you to better market to them. The knowledge you gain about your readers through their contributions to your blog will allow you to get insights about their wants, needs and fears in a way you couldn’t before. It gives you an opportunity to collect information about how they see the world and why they like your company so that you can use it at a later date. You create relationships that you can piggyback off later once the trust is already there. This is one reason that blogs are really great marketing tools.

The Downsides of Comments?

Spam: You cannot change this. If you allow comments on your blog, people will attempt to spam it. That may mean leaving worthless comments with keyword-stuffed anchor text, being hit with any number of automated bots, or getting comments so muddied that you’re not sure if a human or a bot left them (its surprisingly hard to tell sometimes). If you decide to go with comments, you’re going to have to spend time keeping them clean or risk losing the quality of your community. If you’re on WordPress, Akismet does a really good job handling most of this for you and WP has a whole section on how to combat comment spam to help you learn some new tricks. Even with these in place, though, you’ll want to keep an eye on your comment section and prune things out, as needed. A spam-less comment section is one indicator readers use to determine if the author cares about their blog.

You have to manage them: You can’t just hide in the bedroom when you invite people over to your house. You have to check in to make sure that no one is fighting, that there’s appropriate conversation going on, and that things aren’t getting out of control. As a small business owner, you’ll have to find time in your day to head to your blog and manage comments. That may mean approving new comments, responding to comments left, and make sure that people are doing their part to take care of your community. The bigger your blog gets, the more time that will have to be spend managing it.

Controversy and fires: The more controversial your blog is, the more time you’ll have to spend watching the comments that come in. As a corporate blog, you want your blog to stay productive. You don’t want the comment section to devolve into nothing but flame wars, libelous attacks or other drama that could come back to bite your brand. That means you’ll have to moderate comments and make sure everyone is behaving themselves in your forum.

Maybe no one wants to comment: There are few things sadder than the home page of a blog that shows zero comments for every post. If no one is commenting on your blog then you may be inclined to remove the option so your blog looks less ignored. The other option, of course, is to take action to spice things up and increase the comments on your blog.

What say you? Do you allow comments on your small business blog or have you opted to get rid of them altogether? What were the primary factors for your decision?

13 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

13 Reactions

  1. I always have comments enabled Lisa.

    A blog is supposed to be a dialogue, not a monologue. Disabling comments is no better than yelling at “Speaker’s Corner” in Hyde Park.

    Now, getting people to comment is another thing…

  2. Lisa,

    I keep my comments on, and respond to them, quickly, if I can.

    The only time I’ll remove them is if they’re really nasty, or inappropriate.

    I don’t understand why some folks don’t allow comments. it’s not very “social.”

    The Franchise King

  3. Even if your blog doesn’t get many (or any) comments, having them enabled shows that you’re open to discussion. You’re putting your opinion out there and are willing to listen. Now if we could get more people to be commenters instead of just browsers…

  4. Having comments enabled is an absolute necessity. How else can you connect with your readers? Your blog should be a community, centered around your particular subject matter. Turning off comments is somewhat elitist, and basically posits that you are the authority on the subject, and nobody else has anything worth being mentioned. I always keep them on

    Jason

  5. I leave them on, moderate them, and use Captcha for authentication.

  6. You’re right about comments building a nice interaction with readers on the Web. You can always filter any spam, if you have the time to do so. Still, what’s more sad is when your blog looks ignored and you wonder why – even if you have written great contents. Maybe, you are not optimizing your blog enough for people to find you on the search engines.. or perhaps, you’re new to blogging. Still, I’d say just leave the comments option on since it’s a nice way to get site traffic and inbound links as well.

  7. I leave them on too. I like interacting with people and I feel that if someone took the time to leave a comment on my blog I should respond. Just a courtesy.

    Cheers!
    Ian

  8. I leave comments on on most of my blogs. When I have a new blog, I will edit the spam comments in the beginning to make them make sense, start discussions, etc. It’s kinda of a cheap, cheaters way, I will admit that, but you can easily turn one spam comment into a fire starter and get more legit comments from it right away. Making lemonade from lemons I guess.

  9. I do leave comments on and I get a lot of nonsense responses along with some that just seem like empty flattery to be able to post a comment. I weed out a lot of them, especially multiples from single sources. I am longing for some genuine responses.

  10. Agreed, It’s hard at first — especially for writers because most work is edited. But practice and the realization it helps you become a better writer eases the “personalizing” of things. It’s a great business skill.

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