Blogging is great for business, and comments are often a part of blogs. Does it follow that blog comments are great for business?
Many prominent blogs have removed the commenting option, post comments only after monitoring, or require registration through a service like Disqus before allowing comments.
Other bloggers reach out and request comments, trade comments with others, and fake comments in order to have plenty.
So who’s right? We think it depends on the kind of blog comments you’re getting.
Answering questions usefully encourages people to leave more comments and also can build authority and trust. Giving people helpful answers clearly increases the value of your website, and we all know that giving is basic to success in internet marketing.
Comments may also develop a discussion further, bring up different viewpoints, and thus provide entertainment as well as information for people who are interested in the topic.
Many of the comments we see on blogs that have a lot of comments are of the kind I think of as, “Cute shoes!” comments. That is, they serve the purpose of being friendly and increasing community feeling, rather than starting or continuing deep discussions of an issue. These can be friendly, “Oooh, I love your blog!” types of comments, or statements of agreement and support.
When generally supporting comments are mixed in with other types of blog comments, the effect is more interesting and more natural than a series of “Great post!” remarks.
This type of comment adds entertainment value and increases a sense of community, and can also encourage visitors to take action — whether it be political action or purchasing — by providing social proof and sway.
Negative comments can be useful. They can give you the opportunity to respond to an issue publicly, they can bring out interesting alternative viewpoints that engage readers, and they can provide useful feedback to you. They can also be nasty, angry, and offensive to later readers.
We’re not going to share any of those. (Though if you can’t imagine any, we’ve got a humorous example.)
However, a recent article in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication reported that university researchers had found something they called “the nasty effect.” They had subjects read an article on nanotechnology, a subject on which the average person has little knowledge or emotional response, which was followed either by civil comments or by nasty ones. Those who read the nasty comments were more likely to end up with strong (often negative) feelings about nanotechnology.
Our own experience has been that it’s good to respond to nasty comments as long as they aren’t spam, but this research supports the decision of those who prefer to delete the nasty comments immediately. We do so for clients who prefer that, and have seen no negative consequences. There’s probably enough nastiness in the world that preserving offensive comments is not a high priority.
So are comments important?
We’d say comments are not always a good metric. For most of our clients, the blog or social media presence is intended to support goals like sales and lead generation. Unless comments correlate with conversions, getting comments isn’t important if these are your goals.
If your goal is to build community, thought leadership, and visibility, comments can be very important. And individual comments — which, for many of our clients, contain direct requests for a call or customer service opportunities — can be extremely important.
Comments for their own sake may not be a high priority for you. They may be unimportant enough to make it worth your while to remove the option from your blog if monitoring them takes too much time. Just be sure to check your data first.