Strategies on Getting Your Visitors to Comment for the First Time

[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/GregoryRHerman/status/55240306634924032"]

I love it when I wake up in the morning and I see something like this tweet above, referencing this community member’s first comment on my blog!

I know how scary it can be to publicly put your name out there attached to a comment that could be used against you! Sure, that seems like an “extreme” example but many of us remember the first time we commented on a blog and felt an array of emotion as we clicked the “Submit Comment” button!

What is Your Strategy for Getting People to Comment for the First Time?

Scary...!

In light of such a glorious event (and every first-time comment is truly a glorious happening!) I’d love for the community here to brainstorm some ways in which you’ve seen first-time commenters respond and how you engaged them and enticed them to put their name out there!

What have you used that has worked? What types of content has been proven to work better? How do you actively incentivize your community to overcome the fear and potential anxiety to drop that first comment?

And, how do you keep them coming so that it’s not just the first and last time that they comment?

Love to hear your thoughts! Seriously!

What I’ll do is I’ll post excerpts of your strategy in this blog post with links back to your comment and your blog, like this:

Providing consistent content daily is one of my overarching strategies since it provides a consistent opportunity for the community to engage! tweet

- John Saddington, TentBlogger tweet

Your turn! Let’s make this post into an awesome community-powered strategy board!

The Community Speaks:

Here are some of the great suggestions from our community!

1.

When I ask readers to engage, they usually do. tweet

- Jay Caruso, Caruso Photography tweet

2.

Ending with a question about the topic, or a question enabling readers to finish the post in their own way. tweet

- Sam, Dating God tweet

Seth Caddell, Graham Brenna, Jimmy Proulx, Lacey Wilcox, Michael Perkins, Ashley Pichea, Adam agree with Sam! tweet

3.

It’s all about making people feel like they are COOL for commenting. http://goo.gl/BzspK Make sure that you visibly value the active people within your community. tweet

- James Brooks, JamesBrooks.me.uk tweet

4.

I try and do a number of things: do giveaways, ask questions at the end of every post, write engaging headlines, respond to commenters, and ask people to promote what they do. I’m still learning, but these have worked well. tweet

- David,  DavidSantistevan.com tweet

5.

One thing I’ve found to be helpful is to specifically ask someone for their thoughts on a topic you know they are interested in or where they have some authority. Most of the time they’ll leave a comment AND post a link to your post, generating more comments. tweet

- Ryan, I am an Offering tweet

6.

As a commenter this is what makes me comment: tweet

  • a post that offers true value, because it makes me want to thank the author (many of my comments here have been of the ‘thank you’ variety)
  • a post that shares something personal, because it makes me want to reach out to someone and encourage them
  • a post with a thought provoking question at the end, or one that asks for advice or suggestions (it seems that I am somehow programmed to respond to people who ask for help:) )
  • if the author responds to comments, that really is a big plus because it makes me feel seen/heard/read
  • less than say 40 comments (not including author’s responses) because I feel obligated to read through them all to make sure I have something to say and with that many comments, it actually takes up too much time

- Rachel, Youth Leaders Academy tweet

7.

My strategy is to regularly ask questions that vary in complexity, depth and span the range between humor and serious. This seems to engage the reader on different levels and helps them feel comfortable. tweet

- That Guy KC, Some Wise Guy tweet

 

  • Sam

    Ending with a question about the topic, or a question enabling readers to finish the post in their own way.

    Also, as a commentor, I like it and am more likely to revisit or recomment if the post author actually responds to comments. If you see them doing that already, it encourages you to comment as well because it shows they do read and care about what others are saying.

  • http://john.do John Saddington

    Providing consistent content daily is one of my overarching strategies since it provides a consistent opportunity for the community to engage!

  • http://www.carusophotography.com Jay

    When I ask readers to engage, they usually do. I will post something and simply adding “Thoughts?” or “What do you think?” at the end of a post often gets people more involved.

  • http://jamesbrooks.me.uk James Brooks

    It’s all about making people feel like they are COOL for commenting. http://goo.gl/BzspK. Make sure that you visibly value the active people within your community.

  • http://www.LifeAsExperienced.com SethCaddell

    Sometimes it’s as easy as asking questions related to your post.

  • Leah Petersen

    Don’t underestimate the power of commenting on your commenters comments. ;)

    Not necessarily responding to each comment specifically, but being a part of the continuing conversation is a great way to personalize the experience.

    • http://flurrycreations.com/theblog john

      Huge point Leah. Something John does so well here.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      but how do you get the ones who don’t comment to comment? ;)

      • http://wpco.de Andrew

        That is definitely something that I would like to know.

        It is great having all the readers and traffic in the world, but without comments, it feels like noone is actually reading my content.

        I have tried leaving open questions for people to answer in the comments, and no responses.

  • GregoryHerman

    These are all great ideas. Thanks for sharing everybody.

  • Daniel Harris

    No good strategy to share, but I’ll leave my first comment: You’re doing excellent work, John. You now are to my blog what Dave Ramsey is to my paycheck!

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      wow. thanks daniel!

  • http://gbrenna.com Graham

    Just like Sam above, I’ll end with a question. I usually bold the question and make it a link to the blog post for my RSS readers. I also changed some .php code so that the words “comment on this post” appear at the bottom of each post when viewing my blog.

  • Michael

    Comments are what seriously drives my blog.

    I try to be consistent by posting daily.

    And ask a simple question at the end.

  • http://jimmyproulx.wordpress.com Jimmy Proulx

    I agree with Sam. I try to use a question that sparks conversation and thought. I like to read what people are thinking and respond so that a post might become more engaging.

  • http://laceyraewilcox@gmail.com Lacey Wilcox

    I love this post. I always try to end each post with a question (and have tried a variety of questions). Some answer, but most don’t. I’m thinking about writing a post that is a question in itself–basically, one in which I admit I don’t know much about a topic, but am sure that my readers do, and then give them the opportunity to be the expert. We’ll see! :)

  • http://www.davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    I try and do a number of things: do giveaways, ask questions at the end of every post, write engaging headlines, respond to commenters, and ask people to promote what they do. I’m still learning, but these have worked well.

  • http://www.iamanoffering.com/blog Ryan Egan (I am an Offering)

    One thing that truly helps people add their voice is seeing other comments already there. Unfortunately, the problem we’re dealing with is getting the comments to start in the first place!

    One thing I’ve found to be helpful is to specifically ask someone for their thoughts on a topic you know they are interested in or where they have some authority. Most of the time they’ll leave a comment AND post a link to your post, generating more comments.

    If people see the “social proof” that there are comments already there they are more likely to leave their own.

    • http://www.iamanoffering.com/blog Ryan Egan (I am an Offering)

      And, by the way, let me add a disclaimer to say that I am far from an expert on this, as I’m currently struggling to get more people to comment as well, so thanks for this post!

  • Ashley Pichea

    I’ve started leaving a direct question leading my readers to respond at the end of each post, inviting them to share, and I’ve had a lot more people coming out of the woodwork to comment. I also make a point to respond and encourage each new commenter on my blog.

  • http://flurrycreations.com/theblog john

    Love all these ideas. It seems like I still can’t judge what will stir up comments. Posts I am sure will generate conversation sit there for weeks with maybe 2-3 while ones that I really thought would have none go crazy with buzz. I have stopped guessing. I am considering visiting some of these ideas though.

  • http://www.youthleadersacademy.com Rachel

    As a commenter this is what makes me comment:
    - a post that offers true value, because it makes me want to thank the author (many of my comments here have been of the ‘thank you’ variety)
    - a post that shares something personal, because it makes me want to reach out to someone and encourage them
    - a post with a thought provoking question at the end, or one that asks for advice or suggestions (it seems that I am somehow programmed to respond to people who ask for help :))
    - if the author responds to comments, that really is a big plus because it makes me feel seen/heard/read
    - less than say 40 comments (not including author’s responses) because I feel obligated to read through them all to make sure I have something to say and with that many comments, it actually takes up too much time

    That’s just some thoughts, but on my own blog the comments aren’t going well yet, so I’m curious for any other advice!

  • Adam

    Having a question at the end of posts have helped.
    One of the major things that has helped my site getting comments is commenting on other blogs in my niche.

  • ThatGuyKC

    My strategy is to regularly ask questions that vary in complexity, depth and span the range between humor and serious. This seems to engage the reader on different levels and helps them feel comfortable.

  • Clay Morgan

    People do like to give opinions, but not everybody. I find that what readers really enjoy is a chance to answer open questions about their favorite things. I recently got dozens of folks commenting for a post called Interview With…You (http://bit.ly/ectMJC). The key there was that answering was easy, fun, and they couldn’t be wrong no matter what they said.

  • http://culturalawakening.wordpress.com Stan

    First time reader, first time commenter. =) I try to ask engaging questions. Sometimes my blog is just about my day so there isn’t much to comment on. Most of the time, I try to bring up questions that readers can connect with and put in their opinions on. It feels like randomly (when I don’t expect it to) the comment section takes off. Other times when I really want to hear from people, I get nothing. Oh well, it’s fun to interact with those who are reading and commenting. Thanks for the post and for sharing ideas everyone.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      ah, thanks!

  • http://www.tillhecomes.org Jeremy Myers

    I do giveaways as well, as David mentioned. Also, I occasionally do a post where people can introduce themselves and post links to their blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

    One thing that really works for me is making sure that when people make a first comment on my blog, I respond to their comment and include a note that says I visited their blog, made a comment there, and (if I like their content) added their blog to my Google Reader. Other readers see this, and are motivated to comment also.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      love that. i always try to respond to every first commenter!

  • http://kelleyzwong.wordpress.com/ kelley

    As a commentor I like to know that the people who are writing the blogs are actually taking the time to read the comments. It makes me feel like the writer is genuinly interested in hearing from their audience and that makes me want to continue commenting in the future.

    As a new blogger, it is difficult for me to come up with content that’s remarkable. What I try to do is write about things that I can relate to or personal experiences. Those posts tend to be easier to write and easier to read. I think readers can tell when something seems forced, so it’s important to be original and genuine.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      i think so too. readers aren’t stupid… and they can see when you’re just “doing” it.

  • http://www.graphicdesignboss.com GraphicDesignBoss

    John, thanks for this.

    As a result your post I’ve written a comment leading post and it worked!

    Here it is: Finish this sentence “Before I die I want to design…” http://bit.ly/gZ8y23

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      love it! i commented!

  • http://smalltownstudentministry.com Ben Read

    Are there any other tips? I feel like I try and invite comments on a lot of my posts, not all, but a lot, and I don’t always get them. I can see I average 70 unique visitors a day, but only get like 1 or 2 comments on a great day.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      it would be interesting to see who’s really coming to the site. how do people get to your blog?

      • http://Smalltownstudentministry.com Ben read

        I typically have alot of referrals from other youth ministry blogs or google searches

        • http://john.do John Saddington

          hmm. fascinating. how long have you been blogging.

          by the way, you need a gravatar.

  • http://Smalltownstudentministry.com Ben read

    I have one, just used different email address than normal, wasn’t thinking haha. I’ve been blogging for several months now, but just switched from wordpress .com to .org last week, and am still learning a lot sbout the different things I can do with it, but I’m using your standard theme, but will be upgrading to the higher level so I can see the tutorials. Thanks for all the tips on here

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing ben! rockin!

  • Erico Rovayo

    I’m pretty new to blogging but I want to just thank you for giving out all these resources about creating an online community that stirs up conversations about their faith, technology, and the art of blogging. I started a website last year but can’t seem to actually get it up on it’s two feet. I’m working on it though. All these insights are very helpful. Thank you again.

    • http://john.do John Saddington

      sure thing erico! i love what i do!