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Six Reasons People Aren't Commenting On Your Blog

Comments As part of his Social Media 100 series, Chris Brogan is exploring the power of blog commenting by "writing" his post through comments. (OK, I'm a day late in seeing this in my feed reader). It's an interesting experiment that has me thinking some more about commenting, a topic I've explored previously.

Many of the commenters in Chris's thread are complaining that they don't get comments on their blogs, something bloggers eternally discuss. It got me to thinking about how some people create an environment that invites conversation and some people don't. Since a major reason to blog is for that give-and-take, obviously a lack of comments causes a problem.

Some of the reasons for a lack of comments go back to things like the 1% rule or the fact that you may be operating in a really tiny niche that doesn't generate a lot of interest.  But after clicking through  to some of the blogs in Chris's comments thread,  I began to see a pattern of behaviors that I think may be contributing to the lack of comments and therefore are extremely instructive. The result is:

Six Reasons People Aren't Commenting on Your Blog

1. You sound like a press release.
This is a particular problem when a blog is either being run by an organization or by an individual who's trying to generate business and isn't getting the informal, authentic nature of the blogging culture. The problem is that a press release is not something that's designed to invite conversation. It sounds like what it is--a way to get coverage from newspapers or magazines. It has its place in a marketing mix, but it doesn't belong on your blog.

Let me show you what I mean.  This is a press release. Read it and then then let me know how drawn into a conversation you might feel if you saw this or some version of this on a blog. Right. I didn't think so.

2. You sound like an infomercial.
This is closely related to problem 1. Blogs that come across as thinly-veiled sales pitches don't invite comments. I would argue that they don't invite a lot of readership either, but that might just be me.

Certainly having some individual posts that are related to "selling" something can be OK, but I wouldn't expect a lot of comments on them. And I definitely wouldn't expect to create a big sense of community on your blog if most of your posts are geared towards pitching your products or organization. There are ways to do this, but you have to be adding value separate from anything you're trying to sell. I think that the Rapid E-Learning Blog is an excellent example of the "soft-sell" approach that works best in the blogosphere.

  3. You sound like a know-it-all.
I've been running an informal experiment here for the past few months, trying to see which blog posts generate the most comments. Hands-down they are the posts where I ask a lot of questions and where I give incomplete answers on topics that interest me. I think this works for two reasons. First, no one is attracted to a know-it-all. Oh, we may want to bookmark their stuff, but that doesn't mean we want to talk to them. I also think it's because by asking questions and not having all the answers, we leave space for comments to happen. As a reader, it feels like there's more that could be said on the topic, so I'm more inclined to comment. Questions are the lifeblood of conversation . They need to be a regular part of posts. 

4. You haven't showed them how.
If you're blogging for bloggers or for people who are comfortable with the conventions of blogging, then explaining what comments are and how to comment isn't necessary. But if you're blogging for people who are new to the blogosphere or who aren't that proficient with the technology, you definitely need to make commenting easy to do. This is something I learned during the 31 Day Challenge and have seen a substantial increase in comments since then.

5. You haven't created the right atmosphere.Comment_thread_3
You know how you go to some gatherings where the hosts make you feel right at home? Even if you don't know everyone there, they do a great job of introducing people to each other and creating an environment that invites people to settle in for a chat. It's the same dynamic with blogs. Some blogs make you WANT to talk to the author and to other commenters. Some blogs--not so much.

My personal feeling is that a lot of it has to do with "tone." If someone's writing seems warm, inviting, authentic and transparent, then I want to join the conversation. If they sound "institutional" or distant, the conversation will have to be pretty darn interesting for me to be drawn into commenting.

I've also found that I'm reluctant to comment if it feels like I may be breaking into someone's "clique." Not that you won't have regular commenters, but sometimes there can be a problem with having an "in-crowd" that emerges over time, making newcomers less likely to share their thoughts.

6. You just don't seem that into it.
I LOVE talking to people who are really passionate about a topic and are incredibly excited to share their ideas with me. I'm less thrilled to talk to people who aren't that into the conversation. Same thing with bloggers. The ones who are passionate about their topic--and allow that passion to shine through--they're the bloggers we want to talk to. But if your posts feel like you're slogging through them, unless it's a post on how you're slogging through posting, you probably won't get the conversation started. Blogging is about passion and about sharing your excitement about a topic. It's those posts that tend to generate conversation, not the ones where you're going through the motions.

So those are my six reasons for why I think that people may not be commenting on your blog. What would you add to the list?

Photos via premasager and ario_j


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Thanks for this post, Michelle. I have a small specialized blog that I know people read but hardly anyone leaves a comment. I have had people say to me that they like to read my blog so I find it very frustrating that they do not comment. I leave questions at the end of the post to try and encourage conversation. I also go around and leave comments on other blogs to try and encourage interaction.

So I'll have another look at how I write and in particular, will pay attention to leaving instructions for people about how to comment. Cheers and Happy Christmas!

Hi Sarah--I'm glad this was helpful. In your case I think it's that you're dealing with a group of people who aren't comfortable in the blogosphere and don't know the conventions--like that most of us love comments. Maybe if you do a guide to commenting and post it prominently on your site, that would help. Let people know that it's OK to say pretty much whatever they want, even just "I agree" and that you really want and need their input.

It may still take some time, though. I know that it's taken me awhile here and I still don't have the volume of comments that I'd love.

Thanks for that, Michelle. I think you are absolutely right about my readers being unaware of why/how to comment. So, I have published a guide to 'comments' and will let you know if that makes any difference.

cheers Sarah

So which one am I doing at Stormy's Corner,

found this post via brogan's twitter. :D

i think you've hit the nail on the head here. i feel a bit guilty of these issues in my own blogging, i must admit. i don't consider myself to be a blogger per se, but blogging is part of podcasting and band promotion, in fact a big part of it. i'm always torn between using a professional tone and an informal one, so you've given me food for thought.

my biggest problem with comments isn't on your list, and its that most people are drawn to email me directly, rather than comment on the blog. i've tried asking people in my podcasts to comment via the blog, which often brings a flurry of responses, and gives me a little sense of accomplishment, but then it's always back to private emails afterwards.

i guess my listeners, fellow podcasters, and fellow bands prefer to have a one-on-one relationship with me.

Finally getting some 'down' time so I have time to comment on the blogs I visit frequently ;). I personally have to make sure that my posts come from my heart and not from my always analytical head. Which is why #1 and #3 are areas I keep a look out for when I re-read a post before I hit 'publish'. When I did the post on teaching our families to hug us, I had several quotes on how scientific research proves the positive benefits of hugging. I hit publish...had it up for five minutes...edited out the 'press release' stuff..and re-published. I think this made all the difference in the number of comments. However, as a side note, there was one person who had read the post in that five minutes with the research quotes and emailed me wanting them (grin).

Hi Michele, I enjoyed this post - also got here courtesy of Chris's twitter feed! I'd agree with all your points - you were asking for more, I'd add two, (1) how do you respond to comments on your site, is it encouraging and welcoming, this is part the tone and environment that you describe (2) how much do you invest in commenting elsewhere - all my early doors commenters came from blogs that I'd visited and joined in the conversation, with people who were generous enough to come back and do the same with me.

Best wishes,


Thanks Michelle, I am still such a blogging newbie, and fostering comments is one of my blind spots. Especially important to me because I "preach" that listening is the most important and most underdeveloped part of effective communication. Great stuff!

(Hee, I wonder if more will feel obliged to comment, given the topic of the post ;-) )

oddly enough, it took 4-5 attempts to complete the captcha in order to comment here. i am add, so i type them in, hit enter and hop to a different tab. not sure why it wasn't working. but, i'm reasonably tech savvy. so maybe, captcha is an obstacle at this blog? i dunno.

Joanna - definitely beat me to it.

A lot of bloggers fail to realise that they need to comment back to people who comment on their posts. If a person makes an effort to write a comment the minimum you should be doing is writing a comment in response. However there are a lot of bloggers who never do this because they are either new and don't realise the importance or have forgotten that the conversation and acknowledging the conversation is really important. Eventually I will stop commenting on a person's posts if they don't make the effort. And it is important to remember this is not just for that commenter but for all commenter's because if they notice that you do not respond back they are less likely to. PS Michele you are so much better at fast response to comments than me.

The second point Joanna makes about commenting to other people's posts is equally important. I spend a lot of time making conversation on other people's posts because I value the conversation and as mentioned before I use co-mment ( so I can quickly respond back to further comments if I choose to. I have had some amazing conversations with other commenters who are commenting a person's post because we have used it as a mechanism to catch up with each other (off course we thank the blogger for the opportunity.

And yes this comment probably should have been made into a blog post because it is so long but making people know about your blog also helps. I get a lot of traffic from twitter to my blog. But if you use twitter you have to accept that people will thank you in twitter and not necessarily write a comment. But that is okay it is still conversation.

PS Sarah don't lose heart - you are a really good writer. Keep up the good work I enjoy reading your posts.

I've noticed that the more experienced have the facility for subscribing to their blog in the usual place and also at the end of their post. So you read the post and automatically read the invitation to subscribe.

Hi Michele

I thought your link to a press release example might have lead to one of my posts. Thank goodness it didn't. Maybe people will just forget and forgive. :>)

As a business we use our blog to educate our clients (including potential), establish expertise, and to promote products and services. We are in business to make money. And knowing how to engage people in the blogosphere in a way that is engaging, informative and benefits people while trying to keep in mind that we are a business and need some kind of return for our efforts is often times difficult to balance. We need to let people know we have products and services they can benefit from and we don't want to bore them to tears with infomercials.

I agree that one real important piece is to acknowledge people who have commented on your blog. Imagine standing next to someone and saying "hi, how are you?" and getting absolutely no response as if you don't exist.

Thanks for your insights.

Hi Michele -- I saw Brogan's post, but what you've done in presenting these tips based from what the commenters on his post said was very valuable to me. I'm about seven months into my organization's post, and you've given me some good advice to consider -- as well as some of your commenters.

WOW! I think I'm going to have to do a post on the two biggest ways to get comments--write a post about commenting and than have Chris Brogan Twitter it!

A lot of great stuff here from people--thank you! Joanne and Sue--thank you for your thoughts on how responding to comments and commenting on other people's blogs will increase comments on your own. I think that those are a couple of really important "good neighbor policies" that definitely help. I myself have been really bad about visiting other people's blogs and commenting, so one of my blogging resolutions for the New Year will be to do better with that.

Laura--thanks for pointing out the issue with using captcha to try to manage spam. That's another one to add to the list, especially for newbies who may think that they've done something wrong.

And Anji--you make a great point about people wanting to email directly rather than leave comments. For some it might be wanting that one-on-one. For others it might that they have the blog equivalent of being uncomfortable speaking in public. :-)

Stormy--I'm not sure that any of these are an issue for your blog, from what I could tell. It may just be that you're in a tough niche where it's hard to get attention and comments--back to that 1% rule, unfortunately.

Danielle--a really great point about blogging from your heart rather than your head. I definitely agree that it's the heart posts that get the interaction. That's especially true for a blog like yours.

Tom--thanks for the insight into how you have your blog complement your business. I've been consistently impressed with how well VisualsSpeak walks that fine line between blogging for commerce and blogging for real. I think that you guys do it well.

And Ted--I'm glad all of this helped. I'm thinking that there's a follow-up post in here. :-)

I liked the post, it clearly identified some of the pitfalls of blogging.

After thinking through it, I forwarded the link to a very active blogger that I work with. My coworker is a much more analytical, numbers oriented personality. I am more of the feeler type, which seems to be in line with your points in this article.

My question is, how would you turn these into measurable things? Could / should you measure tone or other aspects that are behind these more open ended questions?

- Jered

I love it when people leave comments on my blog, it adds to the conversation. Thanks, you've given me some good food for thought about why people don't comment.

I used to not leave comments myself because I didn't feel I had anything worth adding. Also I find commenting on blogger blogs to be a bit of a pain.

One of the things that I look for is the frequency of posting. I tend to keep in my rss if they are updated on a regular basis (more than once a month).

Can I ask: someone puts a comment on your blog and you reply to it on your blog. Should you also try to get hold of the person and reply to their comment either on their own blog or by email. Or do you assume that they use co.mments or a similar program if they want to keep an eye on the conversation? cheers Sarah
PS: Sue: thanks for your comment about my blog-I really appreciate your encouragement

Hi Sarah - Commenting back under the original post is great but sending an email and putting a comment on their blog (by clicking on their link in your comment and responding to one of their posts)is even better. The email encourages a better connection between you and the commenter.
PS - that is okay Sarah because you do write really well.

Hi Michelle! I like this post very much & bookmarking to refer back often. I think my main issues are #3 and #5. I have #6 down, I am VERY passionate and enthusiastic about what I do on all my blogs. I am so glad to read your tips because I was going to take commenting off since I had so few commenting. Now I feel I can spark more comments on my blogs. Thank you!

I just wanted to add that there is one thing that will completely discourage me from commenting: if I have to register an account in order to comment. I will most likely unsubscribe from a blog in my feed reader that requires me to do this because it just doesn't make commenting easy for me.

Awesome article. Now I see the light :)

Good stuff, Michele! Although my posting frequency has been a little irratic lately, I've been making a real effort to encourage/invite more comments. It has paid off a bit, but not by leaps & bounds.

We get many, many more comments on our adoption blog than we do on our main blog and I'm still trying to key in on what makes the readers of the two different and how to best tap into that...

What a great post! I'm new to blogging and have been discouraged about the lack of comments I've been getting. I'm definitely going to use your list to analyze what I'm doing and how I need to change. Do you have any thoughts on 'Comment Moderation'? I use it, but was wondering if it discourages people from leaving posts.

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