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Blog comments are the gold of digital content

Have you ever been so moved by the content of a blog post that you want to respond with your own thoughts about the subject? Blog authors notify us of new posts using media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Google+.  Each of those platforms has its own unique way to respond or converse with the author. So as readers, we have multiple choices if want to talk about what we’ve just read.

I usually respond within the site that I found the content or by adding information to another media site that has the audience that will find the information relevant.. It could be that I simply share the link with my circles. It could also mean that I engage with the author and other responders by leaving comments directly on the blog. But how do most people decide where to leave comments and just what are all these choices doing to the art of commentary on blogs?

Measuring engagement of blogs is now more difficult because conversation can be dispersed and readers have the ability to just share rather than converse. It’s easy to just +1, like, or share a link. But to comment and engage takes thought and time. Responders may not want to take the time to craft an intelligent and well thought out response if they can just share the post with others.

Others have written about the decline in comments on blog posts and the changing face of how comments are written. Mitch Joel of TwistImage writes about the value of blog comments on the blog post or elsewhere. One of his main points is that the commentary, or the story after the blog, can take many directions after the initial post.  It’s not a linear thread of information because it can spider across multiple people and technologies.

Adweek published a post called the Tragedy of the Comments. In it,  Ki Mae Heussner discusses how the quality of blog comments is not creating the depth of conversation that many authors desire. Many of the comments are spam or off-topic. So there is work planned to retool how comments are moderated and posted in an effort to improve the quality of the conversation.

Oh yes, and I know that there are comment aggregators available to collect comments from disparate sources and show them all underneath your blog.  Those are nice tools and provide a sweeping effect to bring-in the conversation.  It’s a good way for readers to see a more complete discussion base on the blog content.

As a blog writer, I think it would be ideal if readers that are inspired by a post would leave a comment within the blog itself rather than on other sites. This was the original way and I believe the level of collaboration is deeper and more valuable.  It shows an immediate engagment with the author. Sharing the link is valuable, but sharing is about the relationships with other people more than an internal response to the topic within the blog. So in my mind, the value of a comment within the blog post is greater.

People that blog regularly are really doing it to create conversation. Bloggers want to record their thoughts, express opinions, teach people, etc. Their reward is when a reader is moved enough to respond in conversation. When this happens the blog takes on an entirely new level. It’s no longer just an article/publication. It’s a conversation. Conversations are the gold of digital content because they represent interaction and a connection between people.

Time is valuable to people because their is a limited supply of it. So giving some time to converse within a blog post is like making a payment of gold. Maybe you won’t respond to this blog post, but I hope you’ll respond to another one today. Find your voice.

Using Facebook to comment on blogs

As I continue to publish more content on the Internet through my blog I have noticed a trend developing with responses and content creation. Web SyndicationThe majority of responses or comments that I receive regarding blog posts are through Facebook. I have linked my blog posts to an RSS feed, Plaxo Pulse, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a few other sites. So as I publish an entry, it is fanned out across these platforms. This allows me to distribute the content to a different group of people that I’m connected to through these various sites.
Blogs are setup to allow comments and additional discussion below the original content. Popular blogs with thousands of readers may generate a few to a multitude of comments based on the entry topic and the number of readers. Studies that I have read show that most readers of blogs do not create additional content, they simply read to find information on a topic or to follow a particular writer. In fact, many studies I’ve read in the past showed that most Internet users are content consumers rather than content providers.

This is changing though. The recent boom of Facebook and Twitter are increasing the number of content creators. What helps Facebook and Twitter are that they provide a framework for people to create short bursts of content. Unlike a blog, discussion group, or user forum Facebook and Twitter allow users to quickly push content without having to worry about creating paragraphs of information. It’s quick and easy. Everyone loves to talk about their kids, pets, hobbies, vacations, music, sports teams, etc.

So what’s the big deal? Well, while the amount of Internet content syndication is increasing, the ability to centralize all of the follow-on comments and discussion is not. The comments and discussion are only visible on the tool used to read the web syndication. So for example, the comments made by my friends on Facebook don’t show on the blog itself. So there is opportunity here for the creation of a new service to centralize and syndicate all of the comments and discussion. Ultimately this benefits everyone because all of the readers of the content can participate and learn from the full breadth of discussion.

What do you say? If you are reading this from within Facebook, do you not read blogs directly? Would you reply to a post on Facebook but not directly on a blog site?

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