If you run a small business blog, one of the most important areas is the comment section. Interaction and audience participation plays a big role in the success of your blog, with direct comments as well as social media sharing.
But should you switch from your blog’s native comment platform to a third-party plugin system?
Popular third-party comment hosting services like Disqus  and Livefyre  come with a lot of additional features. They vary from platform to platform, but some of the most common features include:
- Real-time commenting systems that show both posted and updated comments in real time.
- Threaded comments, which groups discussions within the comment area into nested threads, so it’s easier to follow different conversations.
- Notification tools for both commenters and administrators.
- Social media integration that lets users sign in through various social network profiles.
- Like systems similar to Facebook that lets readers like comments.
- Smartphone compatibility for most platforms.
- Anti-spam technology with varying degrees of effectiveness.
But are these comment systems better for your blog or more trouble than they’re worth? Let’s explore.
Pros and Cons of Comment Plugins
Advantages of Comment Plugins
There are quite a few pros for both readers and bloggers when it comes to third-party comments. Readers can choose whether or not they’d like to receive notifications when a post they’re participating on gets new comments, or replies to their comments. They can also reply to comment notifications right from their inbox.
Logging into commenting systems like Disqus and Livefyre is often a simple matter of clicking on whatever social media network the reader is currently logged into. Typically, readers also have the option of signing in as a guest by entering a name, email and/or URL. Multiple login options can be an advantage for these systems.
For bloggers and administrators, the pros are often more options for displaying and managing comments. The big third-party systems allow you to display links when a post is shared on social media, usually in an area beneath the comments. You’ll also have more choices on what order to display comments. For example, Livefyre can sort by oldest or newest, and Disqus lets you sort by newest/oldest, most popular or best rated comments.
For behind-the-scenes control, third party comment systems let you blacklist spam or unwanted users and commenters. In some cases, you can blacklist specific words you want left out of the comments (such as profanity for a family-focused blog). You can also stop conversations that take a wrong turn by closing threads for comments, which still leaves the previous comments displayed.
Disadvantages of Comment Plugins
The major cons of third-party comment systems have to do with familiarity, and changing platforms. One problem that surfaces is that frequent blog readers prefer to use their Google, WordPress or Blogger profiles to comment, because they’re automatically signed in. You may lose some commenters this way.
Another common issue is importing or exporting comments with varying platforms. For example, adding the Disqus comment system to a Blogger-based site requires you to export your blog template and upload it through Disqus, so the template can be modified with the right code.
Other problems include shifting to WordPress, which can involve transferring all of your comments between one or more platforms before the third-party system can be used. Changing your domain name can also result in some complicated comment migration, and sometimes loss of comments.
There’s also an issue with spam comments, in that while automated spam is usually filtered out well, third-party comment systems typically have no way to catch spam comments with links that are entered manually.
When considering the advantages against the disadvantages, for the most part, third-party comment systems have a lot to offer for small business bloggers .
Are you using a comment plugin system?
Comment Concept  Photo via Shutterstock