Social media managers can spend a lot of time fretting over the lack of comments on their blogs. But the value of comments on a blog should really be determined by the blog's purpose. There are other places in the social space to start and maintain conversations. And what about pingbacks (or trackbacks)? Here are five thoughts to consider:
1. What is the purpose of your blog? If it is to start people thinking, provide a forum for discussion around a topic or crowdsource information, then comments are important. But if your purpose is didactic, or teaching-related, comments are secondary to pingbacks. Some blogs just tell, they don't converse. I'm not sure this is a bad thing. I don't strive for comments on my own blog, or sweat the lack. I am going for pingbacks. I am on Twitter to converse.
2. Comments are only seen by those who visit your website or blog. Pingbacks multiply your audience considerably acting much like a retweet does.
3. Comments are often a way of saying thank you to the author, or worse, a way for a lesser known blogger to catch the eye of a well-known blogger. Both are good, but don't really function as conversation fuel. Many bloggers, including myself, appreciate the feedback of readers. Don't devalue those "good information, Joe" comments. But they are not moving a community conversation forward.
4. Pingbacks are a sign that your readers care enough to repost your information on another site. Double bonus: the trackback brings them back to your site from their site. I think this is where the real value is.
5. Concentrate your conversation starting efforts on the channels that lend themselves best to conversations. For many, this is Facebook. For Twitter curators, it's on Twitter. You know where your conversations are taking place. Maybe it's your blog, maybe not.
The bottom line is that comment-envy on blogs may be overrated. Look at the purpose of your blog. Remember it's your story-don't judge your success and failure by the number of blog comments on other blogs. Start your conversations where people are already talking about you. And always start by listening.