Today in the afternoon I came across this blog post in which the author asks, “Have conversations left blogging?”
It’s a pertinent question. Blogs are as much about engagement as they are about content. A big reason why blogging flourished was the readers’ ability to participate in the thought process. In some instances a blog post containing just a few paragraphs would attract 100s of comments. In fact there used to be so many comments that plug-ins and widgets were created to paginate the commenting section.
What happened then?
I don’t think much has happened. I don’t agree that it is the end of conversation and engagement in blogging and I don’t believe, as many do, that “blogging craze” is ebbing. Of course with the onset of social media people’s focus has shifted to other, I would say quicker, forms of expression, but people who were seriously blogging a couple of years ago, are still seriously blogging and they still have a serious audience.
Nonetheless, engagement has gone down and that’s because people’s desire to express themselves and to be a part of a community is being taken care of by Facebook and Twitter and other such social networking websites.
But it doesn’t mean that audience cannot be engaged on blogs. Create engaging content. Create content that makes people want to interact with you there and then. Stop publishing the same old topics that you were talking about last year. Even if the topics are same, as I talked in this blog post titled “How to help your business stand out with unique content”, you can always give them a new twist to make people interested in them.
Aside from that you can also focus on plug-ins and add-ons that bring features like Facebook and Twitter right into your blogging. For instance, some blogs like TechCrunch allow their visitors to leave comments using their Facebook accounts rather than having to create separate accounts.
Similarly we can have some applications that can incorporate Twitter interface right into blogging platforms so people can use their Twitter accounts to interact on blogs.
Why there is more conversation on Facebook and Twitter and less on blogs?
First, it’s the audience. If you have 2000 followers on Twitter you know that whenever you post something it is going to be seen by most of your followers. I know this is a misconception but this is the psychology behind the thinking. On a blog on the other hand, people wonder how many are going to see the comment. On the contrary your comments experience more exposure on blogs rather than on Twitter and Facebook.
There is another thing: a big motivation behind leaving comments on various blogs used to be backlinks. When you left comments on other blogs you created backlinks to your own blog and this was known to help your search engine rankings. Then search engines like Google stopped attributing benefits to this exercise and this impacted commenting adversely.
So now even if quantity has decreased the quality of commenting has certainly gone up because people leave comments to add value to the ongoing discussion rather than simply to get a backlink.