Should You Respond to Every Blog Comment?

Answering blog comments is like meeting new friends.

Guest post by Matt Cheuvront of Life Without Pants

When Corbett asked me to share ONE tip about building traffic, one thing immediately came to mind before all else: conversation.

From start to finish and at the end of the day, this is what it has always come down to for me. Conversation — and doing everything I can to encourage it both on (and off) my blog.

Everyone has different goals when it comes to blogging, there is no right or wrong, no unanimous measure of success (don’t let anyone tell you that there is) but for me, it’s always been about building something more than “just a blog”.

It’s been about meeting new people, sharing ideas, networking, making friends, building relationships, and creating a platform that contributes to other professional things I want to accomplish. It’s become a tool and catalyst for many, many things in my life.

Maybe your train of thought is similar. You start a blog because you love to write, because you want other people to listen to your ideas and hopefully, talk and pick up some new ideas along the way.

My wealth, my currency — it isn’t defined by the posts I write and content I “sell” — but in the discussions thereafter. I’m no dictator when it comes to blogging, nor do I ever want to be. I’m not a fan of “telling” people what they should or shouldn’t be doing/thinking because I’m in no way justified to have that authority.

Rather, I’d prefer to position an opinion and leave the floor open for discussion, encouraging conversation and collaboration that hopefully enhances my entire communities’ way of thinking. The meat and potatoes are in the comments — that’s where the magic truly happens.

I have believed that since day one and it’s why, whether there are two or two-hundred comments, I take time to respond to (almost) every single one of them.

My Comment “Religion”

To me, when someone leaves a comment, it’s extremely valuable. It means something.

Of the thousands of blogs out there, someone took the time to read and respond to something I wrote. That’s meaningful, that’s valuable, and whether they agreed or disagreed with my post, it’s a sign of respect.

To ignore comments, to not respond, just seems off to me. Think about it this way (because everyone loves a good analogy): You’re at a bar, talking to some friends, having a grand ol’ time when someone new you haven’t met before comes up, says hello, and starts talking… Once they’re done saying their piece, you turn away and say nothing back, leaving your potential new buddy standing there twiddling their thumbs and heading back to the bar for some more liquid courage after your brutal rejection.

Pretty awkward right?

In real life, you’d never do that (unless you’re just a jerk or socially awkward). You’d say hello, shake their hand, give them a chest bump (or whatever it is you do) and talk back.

This same principle applies to the comments on your blog. And it’s why I take the time to respond to everyone. It’s a sign of respect and appreciation first and foremost. It’s common sense, and when the back and forth conversation is there it all comes together. It’s where relationships are forged and connections are made. If you’re neglecting that, you’re really missing the bus.

Maybe you already have this philosophy, or maybe I’m helping you see things in a new light. But this idea, this principle, this “religion” is the foundation of my blog’s success.

The conversation starts here, but certainly doesn’t end here. A comment on a blog is only the beginning. It’s a doorway to a plethora of opportunity.

How do you value discussion on your blog? Are you making time for the contributors and members of your community?

photo by slava

Matt Cheuvront is an Online Marketing Strategist by day and the master of ceremonies over at Life Without Pants. Follow him on Twitter to keep in touch!

37 thoughts on “Should You Respond to Every Blog Comment?”

  1. I totally agree, and it’s something I feel very strongly about. In fact, I recently wrote about this idea in a different way a week or so ago for someone else’s blog, lol.

    My blog is young, and doesn’t get a lot of traffic yet. But I will tell anyone that will listen, we might work hard to get comments in the beginning, but I believe the smart thing to do is to work even harder to keep them.

    After all, without conversation, what good is a blog?

    1. Exactly – I personally don’t see a lot of value in blogging if there isn’t that conversation there – that’s how we learn, that’s where the opportunities for collaboration spark from – and it’s honestly where most of my inspiration for future writing is founded. Whether you’re just starting or you’ve been at it for years, taking the time to engage in conversation with your readers is critically important.

  2. Good post, and some thought-provoking questions going on. You raise questions that are valid, and you mirror my personal beliefs: that it’s good to respond to every comment, because that person matters. I’ve posted about this on my blog several times.

    However, the application thereof is… well, I think realism comes into play. If blogging is all you do in a day, and you have only your blog to maintain, then yes, I think it’s feasible to invest that time into connecting with every person.

    Truthfully? People have a lot more to do in a day than respond to blog comments. For example, I run a full-time business as well as operate a major blog for freelancers. And while I’d love to respond to every comment – and have even tried to uphold my promises to do so – the reality is that I can’t.

    So I think it’s too easy thing to say, “Yes! You should reply to EVERY SINGLE PERSON!” In theory, you should (I believe). In practice, that’s an unreasonable expectation to ask of anyone, I think.

    Anyways, definitely something to think about, and thanks for getting me thinking about it again.

    1. You’re right – it seems like common sense to appreciate and value your readers by responding to them when they take the time to comment on a post – but theoretically it can be a hell of a challenge. One thing that’s helped me is that, instead of trying to respond instantly – I budget time in my day/week for responding to comments. Obviously I’d love to sit and hit refresh over and over and make sure I keep up with everything on the fly, but I’d never get anything done.

      I look forward to responding to comments and engaging in conversation more than writing the actual posts (usually) – but it’s an investment, and no easy task to keep up with all the time.

      Thanks for the comment James.

  3. Matt:

    I really agree with you…blogging is more than just about the post. It’s a conversation, discussion and collaboration. I enjoy reading replies to some of my comments and I’m sure some people out there probably feel the same. My traffic is still pretty small so commenting hasn’t been too much of an effort, but like you, I am going to try to reply to as many comments as possible even if I get 200. I’ve really begun to look at my blog not just as a place to post content, but as a place of community. I think commenting is a big part of building a community. Great thoughts on a pretty important topic.

    1. You know me well and we share in this belief – that a blog is really not much of anything without the conversation. I know I’m not some brilliant writer or anything, but I do like to think I’m good at instigating discussion and getting people talking – and ultimately – that’s what blogs are great for – having conversations with other forward-thinking, strongly opinionated people…Cheers buddy!

    1. Thanks Jennifer – I see it that way (as in my analogy) but a lot of folks don’t. I completely understand that there are only so many hours in the day – but taking the time for your readers is critical. They are, after all, what’s keeping the blood pumping through the veins of your blog.

  4. I love responding to comments. I’ve never thought about it the way you’ve put it now (the bar analogy) and it makes sense.

    I suppose it depends on the purpose for that blog. Is it ranking high and is just a money maker? Probably don’t care to converse with others much.

    I personally love to converse and share ideas and so I practice replying to comments. After all, someone took a minute to give a crap about your thoughts…. so give a crap back 😉

    1. It’s true, Moon. If you’re just trying to be a “stopover site” for search visitors or something, you might not care as much. For the rest of us though, replying to comments can definitely build community and cultivate repeat visitors.

  5. I completely agree, and I think that this is something I learned as a perpetual “commenter” before I had a blog of my own. I loved it when the author replied to my comment: it showed that they respected what I said, whether they agreed or disagreed. I remember that feeling of respect, honor, validation–however you want to say it–and I try to give all the readers of my blog that same respect. It’s especially important to me when I look at the numbers and see how many people read/visit my blog and the fraction that comment: those that take the time to respond should be given special respect!
    Great post, Matt!

    1. And I think by replying to comments, you really let your readers know that there’s a reason they should come back and engage in conversation again – to every new reader who comes by and leaves a comment only to be ignored, they’re thinking ‘why should I ever bother to waste my time commenting here’? At this point with my blog, I think people understand and appreciate the conversational element even more than the posts themselves. And I’m 100% fine with that :)

  6. I can’t imagine not responding to a comment. I don’t get that many but it just seems rude and also would seem to completely defeat the purpose of having a blog in the first place. If you didn’t want to respond to comments then why have that feature turned on in the first place? (you can turn it off). When I do get comments I always make a point to respond. I am grateful for every one.

    1. You bring up an interesting point (and something that’s worth it’s own discussion) – what do you think the thought process is for those bloggers who completely restrict comments? I’ve never understood the idea of completely shutting off comments (I guess some would say that they don’t need the external ‘validation’ of other people) – but in my mind, by closing off the comments you’re really cutting out the meat and potatoes of what makes blogging so interesting…Thoughts?

  7. Hi Matt – Nice to see you here. I completely agree with you (and greatly value every comment … in fact I get a little sad when there are no comments on a blog post.)

    To me, a comment says: you impacted me and now I’m going to tell you how.

    1. Right on Melissa. It’s a sign that you had an impact (positive or negative) and deserves to be acknowledged. Thanks for coming by to check out my guest post here – this post AND the post I wrote for you were both while on a plane to Texas – I need to travel more often, some of my best writing has come from plane rides :)

  8. I do NOT think that everyone should respond to every blog comment. Rather, I think that this is an overly ambitious idea to embark on. This is the kind of concept that sounds fantastic when you write about it, but once you get a slew of people commenting and you have your hands in too many pots (which WILL happen), this becomes way too difficult to handle. Regardless, I liked the approach you

    1. Hasn’t become an issue for me (yet) – with some posts over 100 comments. Yes, it’s daunting, but it can be done if your committed to it. That being said, be smart about it – if you’re responding just for the sake of responding, you’re missing the point – it shouldn’t be manufactured, but something you want to do in continuing conversations.

  9. i too try to reply to every comment. it increases traffic and readership,interaction,community, etc. it is very important. great post by the way

    1. More importantly than simply increasing traffic is increasing the interaction. I recently made the switch back to DISQUS for comment son my blog and it’s really promoted some great back and forth conversation (thanks to the email notifications). Thanks for the comment!

  10. I totally agree! I love responding to each and every comment because I treat it like I do emails – if someone emailed me I wouldn’t just ignore it. Good post Matt!

  11. Yes, I think this is an interesting topic, Matt.
    Generally, I’m all for responding to comments, heck I even resent it when I drop a comment and I’m ignored. I’m pretty sure no one likes to be ignored.
    However, I do wonder how you would respond if you’ve got tons of comments. One example, which is not exactly the same but is related is Facebook on birthdays. If you’ve got over a thousand friends and more than half of them wish you a happy birthday I think it might be a bit hard responding to each and everyone of them, this is where updating your wall comes in handy… does the same apply for blogging?

    1. In getting a ‘ton’ of comments, yes, this theory would be pretty much impossible to keep up with. I think the primary takeaway is to do what you can – be smart about it – don’t let it consume your life, but make a conscious effort to make REAL time for your community.

      Thanks for the comment!

  12. They are listening to me? What? I enjoy getting my two comments every once in a while I have so much respect and I really like responding, because it shows that you really care about what they are saying.

  13. It’s think it depends on the blog, but for the most part I do agree with you. The funny thing is when we began our blog AND our open ended, non-stop world tour in 2006, we had some kind of glitch in the comments and they did not work. LOL.

    Being totally geekless it took us over a year and a half to get them working. Meanwhile we built up a really big community and went viral with our first Youtube video & were early on Twitter where we also attracted a large audience. The most amazing people have found us and connects have meant so much to us.

    Totally by accident our audience found us and we found them, but we get a TON of comments on Youtube, Twitter, facebook, my column in Huffington Post, our blog & else where and there is just no way I can answer every single comment. I try, but the odds are against me. Sorry if anyone takes that personally. I think it is a miracle I do as well as I do.

    We are on the move, often with no internet available for days at a time, so I’m lucky sometimes to get the post up! 😉 . I’m educating my child as we go and writing a book. I blog primarily to keep a memoir of our life and share our journey & all that we learn with this new lifestyle, but above all , we are about freedom. Stuck to the computer 24/7 is not the experience we blog about or the life we intend to live.

    I’m just one little person with a very large audience & with our lifestyle I can’t always answer every comment. I can’t even keep up with email. I had a bike wreck on the Danube last August & was hospitalized with a bad injury that left my right arm paralyzed for the last 9 months, so got REALLY far behind. But still I tried to keep up with one little lefty pecking.

    I can’t keep up with commenting on other blogs either. I can’t imagine where people get all this time. I will do it here & there as I have time,like this, but I don’t expect a reply to every comment I make. Indeed, none of the biggest bloggers answer every single comment. How can they if they get hundreds every post? Is that the very best use of their time?

    Often comments are fellow bloggers in one’s niche who are looking to get traffic and not necessarily looking for conversation.

    So, as much as I agree with your principal , I think there are exceptions. I’m with James:

    “In practice, that’s an unreasonable expectation to ask of anyone, I think.”

    1. A year-and-a-half to get comments working? You really are “geekless” 😉

      It’s true, once you have an audience as large as yours (and spread out across so many different media), it’s understandable if you don’t answer every comment. In fact, there are some big bloggers who answer almost none of the comments. It really just depends on where you’re at in your growth, and what your priorities are. Answering comments can take a lot of time that may be better spent elsewhere.

  14. Damn, I have to say it’s my religion too – comments show you that people actually care about what you have to say and they’re taking the time to express that.
    I luv getting comments – it’s an addiction burning like fire – every time I hear my alert (thunderbird) I silently scream. If you want to build an awesome connection with your community, then you have to respond to them….!


  15. I struggle with this and I wonder if there is ever a point where there is just too many comments to respond to them all, or is it okay to speak to a group? I pretty much love the comments on my blog: It is what my blog is all about-or at least I somewhat hope to create a sense of community in the comments. Though just as in real life, no one likes one person who dominates the conversation at the table, I sometimes don’t want to step in the conversations going on between commenters within a thread.
    Thanks, Melody

  16. … and that’s what makes you stand out from the pack, Matt… and why you’ve managed to grow such a big following so fast. Even in a world that seems sometimes more impersonal due to the technology that powers it, manners matter. Because, as you said – no one likes to be ignored. Everyone wants to feel appreciated – it’s human nature. It’s also sound business sense to “follow up.” Checking back with your customer, communicating after an interview – heck, hanging your kid’s 100% test paper on the fridge; those little moments when you demonstrate that you value another person’s contribution – they matter. When people take the time to tell each other that, the world’s a better place.

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