If you own a business, then you probably have a website; if your business has a website, then it probably contains some kind of a blog. A blog can be a tremendous delivery system to educate your customers, promote your content, and bring in new business. There is, however, one element that a lot of heavy-hitters in the blogosphere are calling into question—the comments section. Here’s why.
It’s Tough to Moderate
Creating a conversation about the subject matter in your content is all well and good… actually, it’s really well and really good—it keeps us honest and helps us stay connected with potential customers. The thing is, we may have unwittingly created a monster. People commenting on the material can be ill-advised, mislead, and even mean-spirited. One person does not represent an entire community, but that one commenter can easily influence the whole group and completely distort what was actually written. On top of that, moderating your comments section can be a full-time job, and many are disabling comments for that reason alone.
Where is the Conversation?
So you opened up comments on your website’s blog… but where has the conversation gone? You may have noticed that far less people are even using this section, if there’s anybody there at all. What we see now is that if there is a conversation going on, it’s happening on Facebook or Twitter, not on your website. No problem—it’s just proof that small businesses must be more active on social media.
The Problem of Censorship
There is a reason that every piece of writing is subject to criticism and review, once it reaches the public domain. It would be unethical (and pretty boring) if every online article went completely unchallenged. When we find some content that is relevant, exciting, or controversial, we are compelled to say something about it, which is the responsibility of the reader. As a moderator of your business’ blog, you may be tempted to delete the comments section simply to avoid the chaotic (or nonexistent) conversation occurring there, but at the same time, you may be worried about censoring the people who really have something to say. The concern is founded, but those commenters are few and far between these days, which brings us to the next point.
The Myth of Meaningful Discussion
When we set out to post content and enable our readers to comment on the material, we have expectations. The plan is that you’ll post awesome material, and everyone will be so enthused by what you have to say that they are immediately compelled to respond and spur a highly-intellectual, edifying discussion about each post. What we inevitably find is that the fantasy of a college classroom-type conversation usually doesn’t happen (unless you’re writing for Reddit). Instead, you’re either going to hear crickets, or you’ll find yourself responding to those who are vaguely interested.
Don’t be disheartened by the silence. It’s not a bad sign. Just because your readers aren’t responding as you intended does not mean they aren’t reacting; they are simply more likely to have the conversation on social media. If you’re publishing targeted content, then you’re still accomplishing the main objective—to attract new customers. The comments section may have gone the way of the 8-track, but make no mistake, the community is still alive and well. It’s just another opportunity to adapt and find the people where they are.