This is day 10 of the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media. Yesterday Frank Barry talked about optimizing donations. Today we’ll talk about making your blogs commenting system more “social media friendly”
You can tell a lot about the impact you have on your readers by the number, diversity and quality of your comments. For example, if you get a flood of comments when you first publish a post, you know that your readers are highly responsive. You also can see how much they trust you by what they share in those comments. In this sense, comments are a a window into then soul of your readers – and guide for your blog strategy.
But what if you are unknowingly creating barriers to comments?
Common barriers to comments
CAPTCHAS – Get rid of these. Visual CAPTCHAs are “no blind people allowed” signs.
Requiring registration – I’ve seen a few blogs that require registration in order to comment. Don’t do this unless you have a very good reason – and I can’t think of one.
Blogging tools for better comments
Now that you’re removed a couple of barriers (you probably didn’t have the two I mentioned anyhow), you want to find ways of encouraging comments and making them more social. There are two ways blog technology can help:
- Get the right commenting system
- Get the right comment plugins
Get the right commenting system
Comment systems have come a long way over the past year to include social media conversations into your blogs comments. These are the four most popular commenting systems for WordPress bloggers:
1. WordPress Commenting System
WordPress comments (standard on all hosted WordPress blogs) are highly customizable and allow you to easily add functionality either with custom coding or with plugins (WordPress Thread Comment, Highlight Author Comments, Comment Redirect, Social Profiles, Email Commenters, Subscribe To Comments, and WP Ajax Edit Comments and a few that enhance functionality) Themes also add features. For example, Headway allows for threaded comments.
2. DISQUS Commenting System
DISQUS is a commenting system that is easily installed on WordPress with a plugin (Blogger, Tumblr and Typepad are also supported). Commenters can log-in with Twitter Facebook or DISQUS and share their comments on multiple sites as well. You can also moderate comments via email or in a dashboard at the DISQUS home page. They also support over 40 languages. I’ve used this commenting system for a while and am impressed with it’s easy of use and responsive support (Note: some users have had difficulty with DISQUS and switched back to WordPress comments).
3. Intense Debate Commenting System
Intense Debate has similar functionality to DISQUS, but includes the ability to add functionality with widgets. Also, they are owned by Automatic which might lessen any compatibility fears with WordPress (also owned by Automatic).
4. Echo Commenting System
The Echo commenting system, developed by a guy who recently claimed that “comments are dead”, allows you to pull in conversations on Digg, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo that people are having about your blog post. Commenters can also add video, photos and even use an HTML editer their comments.
Get the right comment plugins
Below are a few plugins that the WordPress development community has created that are designed to make your comments more social.
- CommentLuv – This plugin will visit the site of the comment author while they type their comment and retrieves their last blog post, tweet or digg submissions and includes it at the bottom of their comment.
- Top Commentators – A sidebar widget that shows the top commentators on your blog.
- Get Recent Comments – This plugin shows excerpts of the latest comments and/or trackbacks in your sidebar.
- Comment Plugger – Gives a list of that last people to comment on a post, with a link to their site.
- Quote Comments – This allows commenters to easily copy contents of the previous comment and wrap it in blockquote tags.
- Also see: 10 WordPress Plugins to Help Build Community
What’s the best commenting set-up?
So we have four major commenting systems and a bunch of plugins to choose from. Too many choices? What should you do?
The combination that’s right for your blog depends upon your blog strategy. For example, if you want to give props to your blog community, using plugins that showcase these folks would be a smart idea. If you want to make it easy for comments to be shared on Facebook and Twitter, looking at Intense Debate or DISQUS would be smart. If you want your visitors to see an overall social conversation about your post, Echo might be right.
The best thing about all of these options is that they’re easy to implement, which means you can try various options to see what works. Once you do make a choice though, give it a couple of months before make any major conclusions.
Homework: Read this post again and make notes about what might work for your blog.
If you don’t want to miss out on the 31 Day Challenge To Optimize Your Blog With Social Media, please sign up here.