Should You Kill Your Blog's Comments Section?

STMKent
Sharmin Kent Marketing Content Specialist, TinderBox

Posted on April 18th 2014

Should You Kill Your Blog's Comments Section?
There’s a reason that “Don’t read the comments” is such a common mantra around the Internet: it’s because comments sections of blogs and other websites have become breeding grounds for dazzling nastiness, spam and off-topic distractions. It’s become common for publishers to close their comments sections or to leave them off completely—new media site Vox, for instance, is working on a comments system but doesn’t have one just yet.

 

But brands who decide to do away with comments sections on their blogs could find themselves in a quandary. How do you maintain a relationship with your target audience if they can’t talk back to you? dont-read-comments-blog

It turns out that readers’ relationships with brands—and blogs—are changing. There are more ways for brands to talk to their communities, and they can offer a cleaner, less dangerous experience for both the brand and its audience.

Don’t euthanize—democratize

When curated carefully, comments sections can give community members a central location to engage with a brand and with each other. But when certain community members insist on posting abusive, vulgar or otherwise offensive comments, it can scare people away—or worse, encourage the kind of comment thread that can turn a blog post into the Web equivalent of a bad neighborhood.

Investing in the resources to moderate a blog can be costly, both in terms of time and money. But enlisting the help of trusted community members can be an advantage in two ways: it allows an outside, ostensibly objective party weed out the ugliness, and it gives community members ownership with the brand. Be careful, though, in choosing outside moderators—be sure they’re community members you can trust. Even if they’re not on your payroll, they speak for your brand.

Engage on social media

Owned media like blogs can be a great way to tell the world about your products and services, but earned media can be the best way to start and continue a dialogue with customers. There’s more to social media than just Twitter and Facebook, and social media engagement can include more than just text.

Instagram, Vine and Snapchat bring can bring a new dimension to how customers interact with a brand and its products. Brands like Taco Bell and the New Orleans Saints are using Snapchat to communicate with their communities; brands can offer news and users can submit their own images. Allowing pictures to speak for your brand may carry your message much further than a simple 140 characters or a text-based status update.

Making the decision to close a comments section can be a tough one—but with the volume of content increasing ever more quickly, finding new ways to engage customers must become a priority. Explore earned media as a way to start a dialogue, and you might be able to expand your range of engagement, as well as your audience.

Image credit: @AvoidComments

STMKent

Sharmin Kent

Marketing Content Specialist, TinderBox

Sharmin Kent is the Marketing Content Specialist at TinderBox

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Comments

Justin Belmont
Posted on April 19th 2014 at 2:58PM

Great insights here. I've seen comment sections used for negative comments on other sites, but Prose Media has always found such sections to be fruitful. Like you said, they're great for giving you the chance to have a conversation with your consumers, which, these days, is tough to do!

Steve Baldwin
Posted on May 7th 2014 at 4:58PM
The problem I have with comments is that they can make an article -- even a great one -- look unpopular. I see this everyday on well-trafficked sites. People invest a lot of time producing a good article, but the "zero" or "one" comment count makes it look like the world's ignoring it.