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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 do appreciate these WP posts with blogging tips. Though I freely admit I don’t always apply them.

    I’m pretty new to the blogosphere myself and have found that I tend to spend more time commenting than actually blogging. I have also done a fair number if reblogs, but I always attribute them with a preface if mine own to make it very clear it is *not* my work. As for the liking issue, I do that as well but when I do, it’s genuine and I just couldn’t think of what to say.

    The downside to blogging that I noticed almost immediately though, are the spam followers. I’d really like a way to block them. In my case, the spammers are usually what I refer to as the modern day equivilant to snake oil salesmen. They locate me, I assume, through tags related to my medical status. I hop over to see who they are and they are trying to sell something. What’s really sad is the number of people who fall for it and thank them for the follow. It’s infuriating to see others dealing with tough situations like chronic illness, trajedy or loss, to name a few, preyed on.

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    1. I have also done a fair number if reblogs, but I always attribute them with a preface if mine own to make it very clear it is *not* my work.

      Thanks for practicing good internet citizenship!

      Regarding followers, I’m afraid there is no way to block or delete them.

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  2. I’m only quite new to blogging and have offered links to health products I really love, when people have said they have severe health issues. I hope that wasn’t viewed as spamming. If you offer some concrete advice plus a link that people can really benefit from, otherwise I feel like there was something I could have done for them and if I didn’t do it, I would feel like I haven’t helped at all.

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  3. Personally I don’t mind the short comments such as “great post.” My motto is always kindness and respect, here in the blogosphere as well as in life. I always reply to comments; if a blogger has taken the time to read what I have written or looked at a photo I have posted then I am grateful. I try my best to do return visits, sometimes time is a problem but I do try to catch up with them sooner or later ❀ Thanks for the great tips.

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  4. I also like to revert people back. Their comments, likes and follow ups encourage me to post more lucrative write ups for them. Happy to share knowledge πŸ™‚ :*

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  5. I welcome a new commenter, and often compliment them on their blog- I visit and say what I liked about it. Too demanding a question- a general conversation starter- asks too much of the commenter. If you want to know how I got into blogging, have a look at my “Introducing Clare” page. But a question about the comment- like this exchange– deepened the conversation. That post also shows how I dealt with a rude commenter, who is now calling me a “twit” on other blogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. When someone leaves a comment I always reply, it is always so nice to hear from someone. Thank you for the tips on how to keep a conversation going. πŸ™‚

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  7. Totally agree. I reply every comment and even hop over to their blog and check around to drop sincere comments once in a while. I’ve been having this issue though. I feel I have little followers and although I intend for my blog to be a discussion forum and my posts are usually prompting and needing a response from the reader, but the rather little visitors I get just like the post at most, or just read and leave. And my facebook publicity gets a few likes on facebook and no feedback. I think I’m still not getting something right.

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  8. I’m not keen on commenting, even though I do and I have an opinion on most things. The reason is, that it tends to detract from reading the actual blog. Being a politico, I find it disconcerting, that people ”like” the idea of bombing Syria (just an example), when they don’t even know where it is and have soaked up loads of propaganda.

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  9. Really useful, and encouraging post. I have been blogging under a year and in my experience it takes around 6 months to really get to grips with blog etiquette and direction. I write an offbeat lifestyle blog which contains both more “traditional” eating out stuff etc and also creative writing/personal anecdotes. Originally the traditional posts did better but now I’m finding that the creative side seems to attract more interest. I’m delighted about this as these are the bigger labours of love to write. In order to achieve this, I spent quite a bit of time networking on twitter and searching tags on here. Identifying the correct tags for posts is crucial! I always reply to comments as, contrary to popular belief, even the shortest of replies comes from someone taking time out of their day to read your blog. I find it quite annoying when others don’t acknowledge comments I leave – you should disable comments if you don’t care enough or can’t manage the volume! That’s you told! Have a great weekend!

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  10. “The party is bubbling at your (blogging) house.” Love this! Being a host is super nerve racking – “Where is the chip bowl? Who spilled salsa on my carpet? Why is someone running around my lawn in a toga?” This post is a great way to navigate all of that.

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  11. Thank you for this post. As a new blogger I am unsure of the etiquette, and mandates of the blog world. This posy gave me short, easy to remember while I am on the run and definitive actions. Thanks

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  12. Thanks for this posting. I’m new to this and I intuitively have gone to the people’s fb profile and “liked” their comments, as well as, Twitter and clicked on their “favorited” star. We’ll see if I can keep up the blog. I tend to write both in English and Spanish and Spanglish. I sort of like a little bit of trash tv and comment on those. Oh, some people call it Reality TV. πŸ™‚

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  13. I just respond the way I would in person, and see where the conversation takes us. The only difference online is that I’m a little more concise. My mind has a tendency to unravel; blessing and a curse, ha.

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  14. I have to admit, when I had a blog several years ago, I seemed to have a lot more time to comment back. Just getting a blog going again and with my current life circumstances, it makes commenting back more difficult. Still, I think I would rather be sleep deprived than ignore people who give me their time… Of course, that doesn’t always work out like I plan… πŸ™‚

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  15. If a “Like”, “Comment” or “Follow” is genuine, then it’s great to interact and I love to engage in interesting conversations. However, I’ve noticed that many times people just do it to grab attention to their own blogs as it is evident they don’t have the slightest interest in the content of one’s blog. It appears that for some people quantity is much more important than quality. I prefer quality.

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    1. Definiltey — thoughtful debate is the what we’re all after. As Bumblepuppies so aptly put it upthread,

      Blogging is a hobby, not a set of transactions.

      No doubt you’ve sussed out who is there for an interesting conversation and those who are there to say, “great post” and run off to the next blog.

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      1. Krista, thank you for your words. Naturally you understood my point beautifully. Indeed, blogging is a hobby before anything else. It’s even worst when some people are convinced that you too are like them: obsessed with making money out of blogging. So they engage in the art of collecting “Followers”… collecting “Friends”… like forcing us to check out their blogs in order to Follow them in turn.

        Wishing you well πŸ™‚

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  16. I really enjoyed this article. As a fairly new blogger I am just starting to get more conversations/comments on my posts and do not fully understand the difference between a pingback and a comment.

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    1. Liking has such a low barrier to entry and sometimes you’ll see spam likes on a post — rest assured these are not generated by WordPress.com.

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