The Field of Dreams of Blogging- Comments and Conversation

Visualize this scenario:
You spend hours crafting the perfect blog post.  You have researched it, edited it, found the perfect graphic to demonstrate your message and finally… you publish your masterpiece, knowing it is a profound post that will surely generate hundreds of comments from your readers.

You share your new post on Twitter and Facebook and are prepared to watch the comments flow in.

Refresh and wait.  Refresh and wait.

If you blog it, they will come!!   It’s the field of dreams of blogging.

Field of endless dreams

Photo Courtesy of Lifecreations on Flickr

I have been blogging for almost four years and I can’t begin to count how often I have lived this scenario.  If you are a blogger, you understand the frusatration of waiting for comments. You think you have written the best post in the entire world.  You have bloggged it, and yet,  not one single person writes a comment.

Earlier today, I ran across this blog post “Why the Real Value of a Blog Does Not Lie in the Comments Alone” by Grant Griffiths. It is an absolute must read if you blog for business.

Grant says:

For a business blog, comments can be a luxury.  In other words, business blogs sometimes get very few if any comments. And if you are blogging to promote and market a professional service firm, you may not get any comments at all.  It is not because your content does not warrant comments. This is just a general fact when it comes to blogging and a business blog.

From my own experience, it is not that people find your content unappealing. Nor they found it boring or anything else.  It is simply because people who read business blogs are mostly looking for information.  They are looking for a reason to contact you for more information.  Or they are looking for answers to their questions and solutions to their problems.

Grant goes on to say that the conversation had better not stop at the comments because at the the end of the day, you want to get them into your store or have them pick up the phone to do what- to complete the deal.  You want them to buy from you.  Read his entire post, it is well worth it.

When I read Grant’s post, I pounded my hands downs on the table and said YES!  It has been what I have experienced for years.   If a conversation stops at the comments, you probably haven’t accomplished your goal.  I have had sales that resulted from conversations but in all cases, they moved off the blog and off the social network.  In most cases, the blog generated interest.  It captured their attention and was the catalyst for continued conversations through a variety of channels off the blog. They pick up they phone and call you, they email you, send you text messages, and more recently send private messages on Facebook and Twitter.  In most of those instances, I never even received a blog comment.  Today I received two phone calls that started like this, ” I saw your blog this morning and….”  They didn’t comment on the internet.  They commenting by doing something better- calling me. I couldn’t care less that my blog post only generated one comment.  That comment wasn’t even from someone who will ever hire me.  The phone call was.

If you blog for business, don’t get discouraged if you blog doesn’t generate comments.  I have looked at thousands of business blogs and very few generate a large number of comments.  Guess what- conversations don’t just happen in blog comments.  The best conversation I can have is when someone tells me voice to voice or face to face that my blog post caused them to take XY or Z action.

If you can’t see your success happening in the comments, how will you know it is successful?
1) Use google analytics .  Over time you will be able to identify trends.   Things to look at:

  • Number of visits
  • Number of pageviews
  • Average time on site
  • Bounce rates to see who jumps off immediately
  • Keywords- to analyze how peole are finding your site in search engines.  Are the keywords relevant to your product or service?  If your bounce rate is high, you may rank well in search engines for content that is necessarily the focus of your blog.
  • View Popular Posts to see what is capturing your readers attention
  • Look at traffic sources to see where your blog viewers are coming from

When you initially start using Google Analytics, it will look like a foreign language.  By tracking your stats over time, you will start to notice patterns on your blog.  Those patterns are an excellent way to gage the reaction of your viewers.  Is your blog readership increasing?  What types of posts and content generate reactions such as higher click throughs or longer time on the page.

2) Make clear calls to action and monitor the results.  Did they generate an email registration?  Did they subscribe to your blog updates?  If you aren’t getting results, adjust your calls to action and see what does generate results.

3) Most importantly,  track the offline contacts. I am shocked to find out how many people I have worked with in the past read my blog.  I am shocked at how often I go to events and have people recite back blog posts I wrote a year ago.  I have had people approach me at the grocery store, the drycleaners, the coffee shop and at my children’s schools saying “Are you that blogger?”  None of them ever wrote a comment on my site but they still started a conversation. On many occasions, my blog has been the catalyst for people I already know to call me.   It has been the catalyst to get people referred to me by others to actually pick up the phone.  Forget the field of dreams, that is the home run! Ask people why they called you, don’t assume it.  Ask people what reminded them to email you.    If you aren’t getting phone calls, then you probably need to adjust your blog content.

*Make sure your phone number is easily accessible on EVERY page on your site.  If your viewers have to click a button to get your contact information, they are likely to click off your site.  Make it easy for them to start a conversation by calling you.

Conversations are crucial to success in the social web but those conversations are happening everywhere we are – online and offline.  Many times a conversation starts in one communication venue and moves on to another.  The most important conversations may never hit your comments section of your blog.

Personally, I would take a phone call over a comment any day of the week.  Come on business bloggers, what’s your experience?