I quite often am inspired by the comments, questions and experiences that are contributed by ProBlogger readers. I read each comment that is left and attempt to respond wherever possible within comment threads.
However responding in comment threads is not the only place to have conversations. The problem with comments is that when a post drops off the front page of a blog that the comment thread generally dies off off and momentum is lost. Tools like ‘recent comments’ and ‘comment subscription’ plugins can extend threads a little but not a whole lot longer.
I find that when I take a comment from a reader and highlight it on the main blog as a post that it can create a post that generates even richer and longer conversation. It also has the side benefit of acknowledging your readers and giving them a sense of greater ownership on your blog.
This creates ‘momentum’ in two ways:
- Firstly it directly gives you a topic for a new post. I quite often hear bloggers saying that they’ve run out of things to write about – dig in your own blog’s comments and you’ll find plenty of ideas for new posts.
- Secondly momentum is created in terms of the conversation on your blog. Instead of conversations dying quickly as the post gets old – the conversation gets a new spark and can go to another level when you draw your readers attention back to it.
There are a number of ways you can build on your reader’s comments in new posts:
- Link to the thread: Perhaps the easiest way is to simply write a post saying ‘there’s an interesting comment discussion going on in the comments at XXX post’ (with link to the comments).
- Quote a comment: Take a specific comment from a reader (or a few of them) and highlight them as a post (with links to the thread and the commenter’s blogs).
- Write a Part II or update post: Do one or both of the above and then add some of your own thoughts, questions, ideas and invite further comment. I find that some comment threads actually change my opinion on a topic or at least show me another point of view that I’d not considered in my original post. Acknowledge these times in your post and it can be quite powerful for your readers to see the impact they’ve had on you.
I regularly hear bloggers talk about how important their readers are to them but I think taking this type of approach actually can show you mean it. Honor your readers for their contributions in this way and I suspect the flow on effect will be significant.