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The Art of Blogosphere Conversation: Responding to Readers

Your blog is gaining traction: followers are trickling in and they’re commenting and hitting the like button on your posts. How do you respond?

All of a sudden, your growing blog is attracting likes, comments, and pingbacks, and the party is bubbling at your (blogging) house.

You think: People? Comments? Likes? Oh no, now what? How do I respond? I’m not much of a conversationalist.

There’s no need to wilt under social pressure. We’ve got some tips on how to keep the conversation real and flowing.

Let’s take things one step at a time.

Note: this piece focuses on how you might handle constructive responses to your posts. Got trolls? Here’s some great advice on how to deal with them.

Likes

Likes are a nice way to show support for another’s post. How might you respond to a like? A reciprocal visit shows you care. Clicking on a liker’s Gravatar takes you to their Gravatar profile, where you can find their site (if they list one). Visit that person’s blog and see what they have to say. You might just find something you like and if you do, recognize it with a like, follow, or comment. If you don’t find anything that moves you, that’s ok — it’s better to say / do nothing than to practice blind reciprocal liking, commenting, and following.

Comments


Comments are where a lot of the action can happen on your blog. Sometimes you’ll get thoughtful comments and sometimes perfunctory praise, such as, “awesome,” or, “great post.” In both instances, inquiring blogging minds want to know more — pose questions to suss out your readers’ deeper opinions on what you wrote or shared:

  • The “tell me more.” You said you loved “x.” Say more about that. Why did you love it?
  • Ask all about them. Have you had any similar experiences? Tell me about them.
  • Ask them to put on your moccasins. What might you have done differently, if you were me?

Other general conversation starters:

  • Ask them how they found you. What drew you to my blog?
  • Ask about their origin story. How did you get into blogging?
  • Ask about their favorite reads. Which other blogs do you love? Do you have any favorite posts you return to again and again? If so, which ones?

Pingbacks

A pingback (provided that you enable them) happens when someone links to your post.

Pingbacks may be only a few words, such as “Loved your post,” or, since commenting etiquette dictates that comments over a few paragraphs should be written on the commenter’s blog, you might get well-considered pingbacks containing much more.

You may choose not to respond to shorter pingbacks, though a “thank you” to the pingbacker and even a probing question about why they loved your post could generate some deeper discussion.

Longer pingbacks are definitely worth responding to. If someone has taken the time to write up a few paragraphs in response to something you’ve written, it’s good form to visit the pingbacker’s blog and respond to any questions they may have posed and pose any questions of your own (such as the ones we suggest above) that arise after reading their response.

And now, over to you

What tips and suggestions do you have to offer for creating a warm atmosphere and lively, constructive discussion on your site?

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  1. I love conversations… and I think I am good at it too. Often the comments feed is an extension of my blogpost and I love to read them later on. However, now with the social media, I have spread myself out in so many different social media forms – Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and comments on individual blogposts are much lesser than what used to be before. Although I like the fact that the readers are getting a choice to respond from a medium they are proficient in, I would still prefer them to leave comments on my blog.

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    1. I agree with you. I love the conversations, too. It makes blogging so much more fun. I look forward to seeing who commented on what on my blog. And as for FB, it doesn’t really seem to lead to as great of conversations as blogging. Weird. Maybe because FB is more friends and family who know you and aren’t necessarily interested in what you are interested in. Or maybe they are just sick of you waxing on and on about the same ol’ thing. ;)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not a fan of great post or awesome. If I get those, I say thanks. No more.

    I get some very thoughtful comments, my blogs are pitched as discussion blogs, so I do spend a lot of time responding to comments. I don’t post every day because I also devote a fair amount of time to visiting other bloggers.

    Blog style is up to the individual. If you write in a style that invites discussion, you will get great comments. If you write a few words with pretty photos, you will get one liners that say great post.

    I’m not a fan of questions. If the writing or comments are good enough, questions are unnecessary.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think having opinions that you can articulate politely and a willingness to entertain debate is important. If you’re interested in things, you become interesting by proxy i think. Be passionate and you’ll rouse the passion of other people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. @roughseasinthemed offers a solid suggestion above in her comment:

      I also devote a fair amount of time to visiting other bloggers.

      Spending time reading others’ sites and leaving thoughtful comments on others’ blogs is a great way to become more known in the communities you’re interested in.

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    2. A lot of people are very busy. Just because someone doesn’t engage as much as you’d like, doesn’t mean they’re not worth following. I follow several bloggers who NEVER respond to anything I say/like/etc, but their writing and opinions are interesting and good, so I stick to it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You seem to be reading my mind lately, Tempest Rose! I feel the same way; I think everyone has different levels of engagement, and it’s simplistic to think everyone interacts the same way. I read blogs that I find personally engaging, but I don’t ‘expect’ those people to interact with me or follow me back – if they do, of course, that’s lovely, and it may result in a friendship. But not everyone wants to be “friends” online.

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      2. Blogging from my perspective is more like driving a highway. I’m still kind of a newbie here on wordpress, but what I see is the constant flow and movement of the traffic… and probably that’s why Blogging U. was created…

        They are conscious of it and it’s the part of they business to take care and look after for the fresh and brand new wave of publishers and readers to keep the constant flow and buzz…

        Driving a highway is mostly on the 5th gear, so is fast enough with no chance to see everything in such of the detail as it is on the whole blog. There are few stops along the way of course, so whenever the blog post or a sharing content matches the interest and vibration of the audience, and also shows up with perfect timing in the space of the right community, then likes, comments and emails are pouring in, because of their extra time to stop, think and write…

        Every time we are publishing something on our blogs, some people will drive by naturally when other ones will stop in and fall in love with what we are doing and even share with their best friends…

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    3. I completely understand this question… and aside from assuming that perhaps you are doing something incorrect or rather start to feel like you shouldn’t be blogging at all, which is already defeating enough – it is frustrating to do all the things suggested, in this case we are specifically talking about being active and participating in the community of other bloggers, and see no movement on your own blog.

      I experience this too and it is frustrating mostly because not doing this, or suggesting it is nothing, kind of defeats the logic of maybe one of the most suggested tips on WP for actually creating readers / followers. You read everywhere the steps to getting more readers and this is like the biggest one, which is the reason you are asking – now what? It isn’t frustrating for bloggers who already have a good following, which perhaps is why you are not getting a lot of sympathy on this topic. I would however think about whether or not you’ve done everything suggested, and also consider how long you’ve been blogging. It does take time and practice.

      One thing that is definitely a good point though – you really should follow other blogs which you enjoy and continue to comment, etc. for the sole purpose of sharing how much you liked what you saw. A like or comment should not be left just for the sake of earning the same. You want people to follow your blog because they genuinely enjoy reading it – not because you liked their stuff too. The engagement is a way to say, “I was here,” and hope it triggers them to take a peek at your blog. It doesn’t guarantee that they will. Also, it helps to follow other blogs that have similar interests to your blogs purpose. People that like similar topics, etc. are going to be more apt to appreciate what your blogging about. For ex. If I am a chef blogging about food and I am interacting with a blog about single dads who race motorcycles (or something) chances are that blogger eats takeout over the kitchen sink, and isn’t going to be all that interested in my souffle recipes – you know? Hang in there. Don’t give up.

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      1. thanks for understanding my point… I will never give up, believe me, and I’ll continue commenting, liking, and sharing whatever interests me… But its not bad to share our thoughts here and of course I am not obliging any one to like my posts back, I love blogging and writing, nothing will change this fact.

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  4. I respond to everything but I make zero effort to reciprocate. As a (primarily) humor blogger, I get followers who blog about all sorts of stuff. With me, it’s rarely the case that I’ll enjoy someone else’s blog just because they enjoy mine; it would be different if I were writing a car blog (for example) for people who are interested in the topic. That also means I’m never disappointed when I’m a regular commenter on someone else’s blog and they never stop by mine.

    Blogging is a hobby, not a set of transactions.

    And so my first tip is patience. If you’re writing quality posts that are properly tagged and titled, you will get regular commenters eventually. Unfortunately, lots of people quit before that happens.

    My second tip is to keep commenting on the blogs you do enjoy. The other regulars on those blogs will notice your existence and they’ll visit if they like your comments.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Blogging is a hobby, not a set of transactions.” Very well said; I try to keep this in mind at all times. Blogging is my hobby, and that may enable me to regularly connect with certain people, but we shouldn’t take such interaction for granted.

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    1. Same. Often I’ll post late at night (Daily Prompt; Writing 101) and then comments/likes typically show up while I’m sleeping – my policy is to answer once I’m awake. Or if I post during the day I try to answer in the evening. 24 hours is a good rule, I find.

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      1. Have you ever done this? Have you ever been on reader and someone you follow and you just love uploads a post and you want to press like and comment but you DON’T because it would seem like you are stalking or something so you leave it for later in the day, but god help you if you forget! Oh, the humanity! ;)

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      2. I may have? I don’t know – when I first began blogging I was very unsure of all the commenting/liking etiquette. I remember I used to toil for ages over a comment because I wanted to get it ‘right’.

        Humanity indeed :)

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  5. I find it difficult to steward my blog visitors when so many follows, likes, and comments are from spam accounts. I’ll admit I don’t always do the courtesy visit on a like since I’ve wasted too much time visiting spam blogs.

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  6. This is some very sound advice, but it focuses on a lot on the blogger asking more from the commenter. Especially with first-time commenters, I don’t want to make them feel like I’m pushing them to more commitment. I prefer saying more myself — if a commenter compliments on my photo, I say more about where I took it; if I’m complimented on my poem, I says thanks and add what inspired me, etc. :-)

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    1. I like this approach – I don’t always have it in me to turn every comment into a longer conversation, but I do like to show my appreciation for readers. I think sometimes a simple thank you is all that needs to be said!

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  7. As a novice blogger, yes, it’s good to get some likes or comments. They act as motivators as well as reminders – to do better and reach the audience out there. If I like a post – I prefer telling the author why and what’ I liked rather than just ‘awesome’. Glad to read your post.

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  8. I appreciate and try to respond to all comments, and visit “new likes”. I agree with Mara – unless commenter is a repeat, I won’t ask them a question – it’s either obviously gratuitous or possibly intimidating. Far better to respond with “thsnk you” and visit the new commenter’s blog than to ask them a question about your own.

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  9. I scarcely pay attention when I get just a like. I hardy ever do so; I’ve found some bloggers liking everything they see and I find it not so sincere. When I really like a post it’s because there’s something that trully move me or make feel a good sensation. So, I primerly comment about what I find interesting or appeals to me and, finally, of course, I click the like bottom. And so is how I spect the community to behave with me.

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  10. Personally, I feel the “like” feature is being abused. I get what I call “like spammers” http://sweattearsanddigitalink.com/2012/07/10/like-spamming/, people who clearly go through liking everything without commenting. How else can I acquire 5 likes on a blog post that has just one view, and how can I get likes on posts that are 1000 words or more, some 20-30 seconds after hitting “post” and believe that it has been read?

    I use the MORE tag and have switched off my likes so I also know that the culprits are not even reading what they are liking. To me, liking a post serves no purpose.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You raise some good points and I respect the decision you have made for your blog. I just want to offer another point of view to consider: Sometimes I’ll read a post and think it’s very good, but I either don’t have anything constructive to say about it at that moment or I’m having trouble putting my thoughts into words. That is when I will “like” a post, instead of commenting with “awesome” or “well said” or the like.

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      1. I use the “like” function to say, “Hey, I read this thing to the bottom. It kept me interested. I didn’t click away halfway through. I will probably be back.” I think that is the only right way to use it.

        General stats are a lot less meaningful than likes and comments. People who are using the “like” function in any other way than to say “good job” are using it wrong, I think. I know that people do use it in all kinds of other ways. For example, some people use “like” as a bookmark so they can come back and read later what they apparently don’t have time to read now, when they already have time to be on WordPress to begin with. That seems a little silly.

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      2. Oh I know some people use it that way, especially some of my regulars who will offer comments more often than not :) I just have a problem with those who use it in a hope of piggybacking on the back of my traffic. For those, it’s a lazy way to engage with bloggers.

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