We talk a lot about commenting — why it’s important, what makes a good comment, how to moderate a vibrant…
There’s one surefire way to get your comment ignored or worse, deleted: leaving a shameless plug. If you’re going to take the time to visit others’ blogs and press the “comment” button, avoid this basic mistake.
What constitutes a shameless plug?
A shameless plug is a comment that exists simply to provide a link back to your own blog. It says little — or nothing — other than your URL. Things like:
The Faint Praise
Really informative, I look forward to reading more.
What a good post! If you want, come visit my new blog: ijuststartedblogging.com.
The Drive-By Linking
The Faintest Praise
Sometimes the shameless plug comment includes content, like “Nice post!” or “Good job!” Sometimes it’s nothing but a URL. Either way, the best case scenario is that it gets ignored. The worst is that it gets deleted, and you look like a spammer.
Why don’t bloggers like them?
We all love comments and we love being told how great, interesting, awesome, informative, and funny we are, so why are these comments counterproductive? Two big reasons:
- The plug is too obvious. When you leave a comment, your name links to your blog. This happens automatically if you’re logged in to WordPress.com; if you’re not logged in, you’ll be asked for your name and URL when submitting the comment. When you put your URL in the comment itself, you’re saying, “I’ll take any opportunity to put my blog in front of you!”
- It looks like you’re not paying attention. Engagement is a two-way street: I share a post, you share a relevant comment, and that deepens the conversation and creates a relationship. If you leave a comment that indicates you haven’t paid attention to my post, I know you’re interested in promotion, not engagement.
The overall impression you leave? Someone who’s only interested in traffic, with nothing of value to say. Maybe that’s true, but maybe it’s not; it takes time to understand and develop good blog etiquette, so you may not realize the negative impact of your comments.
Of course, now you know — so it’s time to stop.
What makes a good comment?
Coming up with a killer comment can be easier said than done. Lucky for us, Elizabeth, our in-house Emily Post, has written a lot about what makes a great comment and how to think of ways to contribute. A few of our favorite points:
- Ask yourself some questions: What was my reaction to the post, specifically? Why? Is there any aspect of the story that I would like to hear more about? Did the post change my mind about anything, or teach me something?
- Think of a creative way to say “Nice post!”: Find an original way to say it that displays personality and that lets the blogger know you read the post. Instead of “LOL!” try, “When I got to the part where the old man stole your shopping cart, I laughed so hard I scared my cat.”
- Read thoroughly: Make sure you’ve read the entire post and the other comments. Your comment should never make the blogger (or other readers) wonder if you actually read anything.
- Contribute something of value: Add something substantial that moves the conversation forward. We appreciate simple comments like “Enjoyed this post!” but a meatier response is more likely to result in visits to your own site.
- Be yourself: No matter your perspective, a unique voice will get attention. Let your personality and perspective shine through.
What do I do with all these non-comments?
Here on The Daily Post and on Hot Off the Press, we delete comments that (1) are simply links; (2) contribute nothing other than “Nice post!”; and (3) are notifications of reblogs without any substantive commentary. We don’t do it because we don’t care that people think we write nice posts, but because we’re trying to cultivate meaningful conversations.
You might notice comments like this on your blog, especially on a post that attracts more traffic than normal — one that’s passed around Facebook, or gets featured on Freshly Pressed. It’s your blog, so you decide what conversation you’ll allow and what gets nixed. You can even be completely transparent and publish your comment policy (on a new page, or in a text widget or sticky post) so readers know what to expect. Feel free to snag our guidelines as a starting point.
You’re taking the time to click over to someone’s blog and fill out the comment box, so don’t throw that away with a comment that leaves a poor impression. Spend the extra moment composing a meaningful compliment — it’ll make the blogger feel great and help build your own audience.