If you are one of the 164 million-plus people or businesses that publish a blog, you may be interested to hear that, according to social-media experts, blog comments are dead.
If this surprises you, you're not alone. I was a bit surprised to hear it myself at the Social Media Examiner, Social Media Marketing World conference in San Diego last week. Nichole Kelly, author of How to Measure Social Media and CEO of Social Media Explorer, proclaimed, on a panel moderated by Jay Baer, that blog comments were dead.
That's food for thought indeed for business bloggers. Here are three reasons I think she may be right.
1. Moderated comments don't make for conversations.
Most blog comments are moderated, which means someone is looking at them before publishing them to weed out all the spam comments (I'll get to this in a bit), all the self-promotional, SEO-seeking link comments, and the just plain no-value comments like this gem posted on my company's small-business marketing blog: "It's really a great and useful piece of information. I'm happy that you shared this useful information with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing." Huh?
The point is that moderated comments really leave it up to the publisher to decide what to post. So, you don't always get a real conversation happening because that conversation is edited. And unfortunately, it kind of has to be edited, owing to the problem comments I mentioned. If blog comments were not monitored, you would potentially have a sea of junk in your comment section that could potentially lessen the value of your blog.
2. Hear crickets?
Many of the blogs out there get less than a thousand visits per month. This is a recipe for disaster when it comes to comments, unless you've got super-engaged readers who comment and comment often. Many blogs get people to comment by running contests, in which the reader is required to comment in order to be entered to win. But I'm talking more specifically about blog posts that provide help, advice, tips, how-tos, etc., that get no comments, just crickets.
But contrary to what Kelly said at Social Media Marketing World, that doesn't mean your content is crap. It just might mean you don't get enough visits, or that those conversations have moved. And guess where they're happening now? They're taking place on social-media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. It makes sense. You share your blog posts to these social platforms, and people engage with them there, because social platforms are inherently social in a way that blogs may not be.
3. Spam is prevalent.
Anyone who publishes a blog with comments knows that you get absolutely pounded with spam. In fact, Copyblogger shared that, "In a little over eight years, Copyblogger has published more than 130,000 approved comments. Which is pretty amazing, right? But over that period, that's only about 4% of the comments that were left on the site. The remaining 96% were pointless, time-wasting spam."
Ninety-six percent of Copyblogger's comments were spam! And that's with spam filters like Akismet in place! Someone still has to sort through all those comments and mark them as spam or delete them. I don't know about you, but I'd rather focus on creating great content than manually go through a bunch of bogus comments.
There are, of course, many blogs out there with devoted and engaged readers who actively comment. Take, for example, the Moz blog. It's one of the best examples I know of a blog in which every post gets interaction. It allows readers to give each post a thumbs-up or thumbs-down as well as to comment, and most posts have comments in the double and triple digits. It's an effective strategy combined with excellent content targeted at SEOs.
What do you think about blog comments? Are they alive and well, or DOA? Leave your thoughts in the comments.