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Answering Comments

12 Ways to Build an Active Community by Answering Comments Like a Pro

Let’s face it. The blogs that really make it big are more than just web sites with articles on them… they’re communities. They’re communities in which readers interact with the author and with each other.

And the backbone of your interaction with your community is your comments section.

Be honest. How healthy is your comments section? Is it busy? Does it contain more significant conversation than just, “great post” and “thank you?” Do your visitors interact with each other in a meaningful way?

If your blog is like most emerging blogs, there’s likely not a lot of in-depth interaction going on.

Two Reasons You Need To Rock the Comments

There are really two primary reasons you need to step up and make your comments section highly interactive.

1: To Get Your Audience Involved
An audience is a group of people who observe something together – and then do nothing. Or maybe clap politely. A community, on the other hand – well, they interact with each other. They get involved. They agree, disagree, debate, and joke around with each other.

The difference between just having an audience and having a community is how you interact with them and encourage connection not only with your blog – but with each other. Your comments section is a great opportunity to make that happen.

2: To Make an Impression on New Visitors
The second reason is more of a positioning or a branding reason. It’s a matter of image. Imagine a new visitor coming to your blog and seeing four or five interactions like this at the end of your post:

Reader: “Great post!”
You: “Glad you liked it. Thank you.”
Reader: “Thank you for thanking me!”
You: “You’re welcome.”

Mind-numbing, isn’t it? It adds nothing to the conversation and it makes both parties look like knuckle-heads.

Now imagine that a new visitor comes to your blog, and instead of the shallow conversation above, they see a highly-interactive and intelligent conversation going on.

Which of those two impressions would you rather leave on a new visitor?

12 Simple Tips to Create Outstanding Conversations

If you want your comments to be outstanding, it’s up to you to pull it off. No one else can make that happen. You can’t control how many people comment or what they say. But you can make whatever conversations exists more meaningful.

Here are 12 simple tips to taking control and encouraging more meaningful conversations in your comments.

1: Answer All Comments
If you’re just starting to build your community, make sure to answer all of your comments. As your community grows, you may choose not to answer 20 different people who all say, “Great post! Thanks!” – but early on, give everyone some attention.

2: Go Beyond “Thank You.”
It’s always polite to say, “thank you” when someone compliments you – but go further than that whenever possible. Show that you’re interested in your readers.

3: Answer Questions
Many readers ask questions in the comments. Make sure to give them full and complete answers when they do. End your answer with, “Does that make sense?” or “Does that answer your question?” It encourages longer and more meaningful conversations.

4: Show Some Personality
The comments section of blogs can be a dry, dull place. As bloggers, we spend a lot of time and energy developing our online brand in order to show our unique perspective on the world. So why then do so many of us get so stiff and boring in the comments?

Whatever your “thing” is, it needs to show through in the comments. If your blog is informal and conversational, show me that when you answer comments, too. If humor’s your thing, use it. Whatever the spirit of your brand is, it should come loud and clear in your comments as well as in your content.

5: Be Human
Make sure you come off as a real person in the comments. Bloggers get too wrapped up in this whole authority thing where they have to be right all the time. Don’t do that. Be human.

If someone expresses an opinion contrary to yours and they’re right – tell them they have a good point. If someone thinks of something you’ve never thought of say, “That’s awesome, Jill. I never thought of that. Great point!” Readers like and trust people who are real and transparent. They tend not to care for people who always have to be right.

6: Use the Reader’s Name
Everyone likes the sound of their own name – and it’s a great way to show someone you care about them personally. So the example under #3 becomes, “Does that answer your question, Jon?” Just be careful not to overdo it, Jon. Because you know, Jon – after a while it becomes annoying and insincere, doesn’t it, Jon?

7: Welcome Civil Disagreement
Make sure your readers feel safe and welcome to disagree with each other (and you) in the comments. Members of a community don’t always have to agree in order to like each other and inhabit the same space. When people feel like they don’t have to hide their true opinions, they tend to open up to and trust your community more.

8: Compliment Your Audience
When your reader makes an especially intelligent comment, tell them it’s an especially intelligent comment. Say things like, “That’s a great story, Bob – and it really illustrates the point of this post perfectly. Thanks!” Hand out praise when it’s warranted and sincere. Your readers will love being acknowledged.

9: Ask For Clarification
Not all readers are great at clearly articulating their questions or comments. If there’s a chance that you’re misunderstanding their comment, ask them. “Hey, Sheryl… just so I’m clear, are you asking about X or are you asking about Y?”

10: Ask What Others Think
Get readers to interact with each other by asking them to participate in other people’s comments. When someone asks your opinion in the comments, share it – then add, “I’d be interested to hear what others think about this, too. Anyone care to comment on this?”

Over time, your readers will become accustomed to interacting with each other and you won’t have to prompt them anymore.

11: Refer to Earlier Comments
Another great way to get readers to interact with each other is to refer to other comments in your answer. You might say, “That’s a great point, Jane. Bill made a great comment above about that. Take a look.” Again – the idea is to get readers to read and interact with each other’s comments.

12: Ask Follow-Up Questions
By asking follow-up questions, you can encourage more in-depth comments and more meaningful conversations. When someone comments, “Great post! Very useful.” – instead of just leaving it at that, reply, “Thank you, Debbie. What did you find most useful about it?”

What You Can Do Today to Start Transforming Your Blog Into a Community

You now have 12 simple tips to start turning your comments into something meaningful and useful for your readers. You’ll develop your own methods of getting people more involved as you go along, too.

It may take some time for your audience to get used to really speaking their minds. But if you regularly let them know that’s what you want, most people are more than happy to jump in and tell you what they’re thinking.

Make note of these 12 tips. Print them out if you like. And the next time you publish a post, make it your goal to get people to interact beyond, “Thanks! Great post.” Use some (or all) of these tips to get a real conversation brewing on your blog.

So it’s up to you. Decide if you want a quiet audience of readers – or an active, vocal community.

Put these tips to use and then come back and let us know how it went.

Your Turn To Type Now…

How are things in your comments section? Share your frustrations or your tips in the comments section below.

Let’s see if everyone can give me more to work with here than “Thanks. Great post.”  :)

Gary Korisko is a battle-tested real world sales pro. Download your Free copy of his eBook, How To Influence All The Right People - a guide to breaking away from the herd. For more of Gary's work, check out his blog Reboot Authentic

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{ 43 comments… add one }

  • Sudipto May 19, 2014, 5:43 am

    Hey Gary,
    Nice post and Yes, comment really plays an important role in blogging as it helps in making good relations with other. Replying every comment is very important point and everyone has to do it. Using word like Thank You or great content help us in making good relations. Thanks for sharing these tips with us.
    Sudipto recently posted..Best Android Phone Under 20000My Profile

  • Joe Hart September 27, 2013, 4:29 am

    Hi Gary, I would like to mention that of all the 12 ways, the 7th one is the most significant in my opinion.Developing a culture of ‘Agreeing to Disagreeing’ is essential for maintaining a vibrant community.

  • Stephan September 26, 2013, 11:37 am

    Very nice article.
    All the tips are really interesting and effective for all bloggers.
    I’m especially interested on “be human ” strategy. it’s like a professor on this.
    Thanks for your valuable information.

    Stephan

  • marianne September 25, 2013, 9:37 pm

    Hi Gary. I like this post a lot. I do seem to get a lot of these types of comments, the boring ones that is. I am doing a lot of what you suggest (not all) but it hasn’t seemed to get my community going. I think that it takes a little while to build up that community and that it doesn’t usually happen for a little while on new blogs does it?
    That said, I was just posting the other day on my FB page that it was a pet peeve of mine that so many bloggers (I’m not talking the big time ones here) don’t bother to give a simple response to commenters. It makes me wonder what is the point of blogging if you’re not going to engage with your readers?
    marianne recently posted..This Month’s Web Design Term: Responsive Web DesignMy Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 26, 2013, 7:55 pm

      Marianne:

      It does take a while to build up a group of “regular” people who comment. About your pet peeve — some of the big guys let a lot of comments slide sometimes, too. But, yes – typically those who have “made it” seem to understand how important the interactions in the comments are.

      Thanks for visiting & congrats on the continued growth of your blog. It’s looking great!
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Albert Einstein Guide to Influence by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  • Gautam September 24, 2013, 4:46 am

    Answering Questions like a pro can give you much attention and exposure.These days am Concentrating on Yahoo Answers,what do you think about it?

    • Gary Korisko September 26, 2013, 7:58 pm

      Interesting question, Gautam.

      There’s a lot about your question I don’t have information about, but I’m assuming you’re asking if I think being active answering questions on Yahoo Answers will bring people to your blog. If that’s the question, I would highly encourage you to instead spend that time commenting on the blogs of other successful bloggers in your niche… and connecting with those people.

      Thanks for the question!
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Albert Einstein Guide to Influence by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  • Jim Bessey September 20, 2013, 9:40 pm

    Well now I feel silly, having left my \”comment\” in the Google+ area. Haven\’t seen that method before. So, anyway–great post, Gary! I like the tip mentioned in the earlier comments, about sending an email to a reader who leaves an especially good response. Never thought of that, though the idea makes perfect sense. Love it when I learn something new that way. Thanks!

  • Asher Elran September 20, 2013, 11:23 am

    “Welcome Civil Disagreement”. That is a good one. Nothing makes a blog more boring that supports and allows only one point of view. A little controversy will always make blog post and comments that follow a little more popular and interesting to read. Thank you Gary for your ideas.
    Asher Elran recently posted..A 7 Step Viral Video Marketing CampaignMy Profile

  • Hugh Leon September 19, 2013, 11:50 pm

    Hi Gary,

    I complete agree with you. I receive lot of such ‘Thank you for sharing’, ‘Great post’ by real users, let alone the spam bots. It is very frustrating when someone comments without adding value.

  • Kimberley Grabas September 19, 2013, 4:18 pm

    Hey Gary!

    Excellent tips, and I especially like how you cultivate a conversation by asking questions and encouraging others to join in. For those of us who are introverts, this ‘social butterfly’ tactic requires some practice, but it looks like you’re a natural! ;)
    Kimberley Grabas recently posted..How to Create a Custom Facebook Cover Image That Gets Noticed (Without Spending a Dime)My Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 19, 2013, 9:26 pm

      Kimberly:

      I would no more call you an introvert than I would call myself “young and dashing.” :)

      Interesting how we see ourselves vs. how others do, isn’t it? Anyway – it’s not about being gregarious. It’s really about truly wanting to know more about and connect with people… and you have that already my friend!

      Thanks for joining in.
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Albert Einstein Guide to Influence by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  • Silviu September 19, 2013, 11:28 am

    Hi Gary,

    This is a good synthesis of the blog commenting topic. My blog is rather new. The bad is that I have not so many comments. The good is that all my posts from the last 2-3 months have comments. Not even one without, at least, a few comments.
    What I do is .. when I approve a comment, I always respond to that comment. I always start with a “thank you” and use the reader’s name. Whenever I can, I compliment my audience and I usually show enough personality (in my opinion). I always try to answer their questions.
    Unfortunately, I rare refer to earlier comments and seldom ask follow up questions. Well, the beginning is tough, you know that.

    Have a wonderful day
    Silviu recently posted..How to Upload a Powerpoint Presentation to SlideshareMy Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 19, 2013, 9:30 pm

      Silviu:

      The beginning is tough. Really tough. But, hey – let’s look at the good news.

      You said your blog is new, so I assume you have a small audience. You also said most of you last posts get at least some interaction. That’s excellent. That tells me you’re resonating with at least a percentage of your audience. (Do you know what that percentage is?)

      Keep working those comments. Answer their comments – and then ask a question back. See what happens.

      I *LOVE* responding to comments. That’s where all the fun stuff happens! Thanks for speaking up!
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Albert Einstein Guide to Influence by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  • Bobbi Emel September 18, 2013, 11:55 am

    Gary, this is a great post, Gary. And, Gary, I mean it’s awesome, Gary.

    Gary. Gary, Gary, Gary.

    ;-)

    In all seriousness, your twelve points are well-taken and I am so with you that a community is completely different than an audience. I really like to interact with my readers to try to help them bond together as a community.

    One tip I’ve heard other bloggers write about is to email someone directly who has left an especially pertinent comment on your post. Just say, “Hey, thanks so much for that awesome comment on my post. I really appreciate your insight and thoughts about it.”

    Nothing like a little personal touch!
    Bobbi Emel recently posted..Tunnel vision? 5 ideas to help you see the lightMy Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 19, 2013, 10:42 pm

      Bobbi, Bobbi, Bobbi…. :)

      You make a great point. I should have included that for sure. A personal email goes a long, long way. I still send one to each new subscriber. It sometimes takes me a while to get to everyone, but man, oh man do they appreciate it. It’s a great way to start a *real* relationship. Fantastic tip!

      Thanks for sharing that. Good stuff!
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Albert Einstein Guide to Influence by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  • Rich September 18, 2013, 8:36 am

    It’s a great post, but more importantly a great ice-breaker for initiating a sensible discussion instead of a string of comments. Personally speaking, comments start getting better when you – as a blogger, develop a rapport with those who visit regularly. You stop worrying about offending the other guy, speak your mind, and maybe you inject some humor into the chit-chat.
    Rich recently posted..How Inflation is Accounting for Tax Relief in 2014My Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 19, 2013, 10:45 pm

      Amen, Rich.

      Real interaction in the comments really does strengthen your individual brand. It helps you “come out” as a blogger and stop worrying about pleasing the masses.

      Man – you all haven’t disappointed me with these comments. Some great thoughts coming out. Thanks very much!
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Albert Einstein Guide to Influence by Gary KoriskoMy Profile

  • Alia September 17, 2013, 7:01 am

    Replying to comments is a very good habit and more importantly it is also a very first step to become a pro.It has been seen the one’s who are replying to all their comments haven been more famous in the bloggers.

    We have a very good example Neil Patel he is a pro and a busy personality,then also making reply to each and every comment on his blog.

  • Aahna September 17, 2013, 1:46 am

    Hi Gary,

    I agree with your points, It’s essential to reply all comments especially if you’ve started a new blog. However I do feel that if you’re getting comments like “great post” or “nice work” then I would recommend to immediately delete them if they’re left with the sole purpose of getting links.

    • Gary Korisko September 17, 2013, 1:45 pm

      Interesting, Aahna.

      I get your point, but I don’t delete those. If it is someone who just wants to be seen, it doesn’t really hurt you by leaving it. Consider also that it could be a “new” commentor who is just being shy and getting a feel for the community. I’d hate to run someone like that off. I prefer to try to start a conversation :)
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Simplest Sales Tactic You’re Probably Overlooking by Rory KermackMy Profile

      • marianne September 25, 2013, 9:34 pm

        Yes totally agreed with this. I wouldn’t delete them either. Sometimes I leave these types of comments only because I want to give kudos or support to the writer, but maybe I don’t know enough about the subject to really add much more to the conversation. It just all depends on the topic.
        marianne recently posted..This Month’s Web Design Term: Responsive Web DesignMy Profile

  • Josh Kotsay September 17, 2013, 1:00 am

    Awesome set of tips Gary. You can really get an idea of the quality of any blog by the types of comments it receives. And thanks for the reminder to reply to every comment. I know it’s super important, but sometimes I just forget.

  • Nirmala
    Twitter:
    September 16, 2013, 11:59 pm

    Very nice post, I enjoyed reading it.

    Yeah, blog commenting has more power and even the reply comment too.

    I am specially taking care and spending quality time in replying comments and thus I have a community for my blog.

    Thanks for sharing the nice post :)

  • Ryan Biddulph
    Twitter:
    September 16, 2013, 11:21 pm

    Hi Gary,

    Smashing post! And oh yeah….happy to post one of my “comment especials” to keep this thread going, right here, right now ;)

    I like commenting. Why? Free, easy to do, and it can build your brand like nobody’s business. I checked my stats yesterday for the first time in months. Detachment/letting go/releasing time. I was surprised to see some serious growth; over 5000 page views on my blog yesterday.

    Why? I went on a comment tear, focusing on creating in-depth, quality comments, instead of trying to leave Comment Drive-By’s on as many blogs as possible. The difference? I can assure you I was not snagging 5000 page views and over 7500 page visits daily 1 month ago.

    As for the right/wrong thing I hear you. I like thinking of different perspectives. If someone shares a different viewpoint I generally respond with, “Wow, cool viewpoint! I like how you see things.” Then I expand for a bit…..this moves my blog away from being combative and more towards a place of loving, sharing viewpoints. Subtle shift of course but it helps me keep things super high energy. Humbling take you share, really dig it ;)

    As for names, my name is the best sounding word in the English language, which I speak. I use names once to make someone feel special, for short comments, and twice, in longer comments. Drills the point home.

    Thanks for sharing your dead on insight Gary! Have a powerful day dude!

    Ryan
    Ryan Biddulph recently posted..11 Tips for Choosing the Right Online Business Venture for YouMy Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 17, 2013, 1:49 pm

      Hey Ryan!

      Thanks for sharing your story and congrats on all the views. As you said, they key is to leave (and respond to) comments in a meaningful way. People can spot fluff. Thanks again!
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Simplest Sales Tactic You’re Probably Overlooking by Rory KermackMy Profile

      • Phillip Dews October 13, 2013, 12:06 am

        Hi Gary,
        Your turn now! Sorry did not want to leave you out as well!
        I loved the tips will be using them in my new blog as well!
        I used to try and end my posts with something humourful like
        “Agree, Disagree or just Indifferent? please leave your answers
        on a postcard below”.
        Phillip Dews recently posted..My Blog is a Choo Choo!My Profile

        • Phillip Dews October 13, 2013, 12:13 am

          published without finishing then oh well!
          Anyway I have been blogging for some years and Gave up a few times!
          So now I am determined with my latest blog that’s only 2 weeks old to be
          my favourite one!
          Thanks for the tips and Great Post dude!
          - Phillip

        • Gary Korisko October 13, 2013, 12:16 am

          Phillip – that’s the kind of thing that people remember you for. ABSOLUTELY be you!

          I’ve ended posts with things like… “”You type something now.” Whatever is really you.

          Good luck!

    • Phillip Dews October 13, 2013, 12:02 am

      Man you get everywhere Ryan,
      Oh and Great post Gary! :-)
      See what I have done there! I just read Ryan’s comment and had to leave him a comment reply!
      BTW looking forward to you next post dude!
      - Phillip
      Phillip Dews recently posted..Are you limiting yourself? Get blue sky thinkingMy Profile

  • Kyle September 16, 2013, 5:45 pm

    I like the “be human” strategy. I need to work on getting comments first, what do you recommend for getting more interaction on your blog?
    Kyle recently posted..Web Design Fundamentals: Everything You Need To Learn HTML/CSSMy Profile

    • Gary Korisko September 17, 2013, 1:55 pm

      Hey Kyle!

      As far as getting more interaction… a lot of things could be at play there. If only a few people read your blog, it’s harder to get comments – so audience building is key.

      This may seem obvious – but make sure you’re leaving a very clear, direct Call To Action at the end of the post that specifically asks your readers to respond to a question or share an insight. You might even try rewarding the best comment somehow.

      The bottom line, though is that the bigger your audience, the more likely you are to get interaction… so it’s all tied to quality content and promotion.

      Great question – and thanks for jumping into the discussion, Kyle.
      Gary Korisko recently posted..Comment on The Simplest Sales Tactic You’re Probably Overlooking by Rory KermackMy Profile

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