Engagement is not an absolute. There are many layers and ways to engage. Your engagement may not be my engagement.
On the Blog post, You're Connected, But Are You Engaging? (March 30th, 2010), Jeremy Epstein asks in the comments section, "...haven't you said many times in the past that you don't respond to comments on your blog? Are you then missing out on an engagement opportunity and, also, losing out on possible loyalty from your readers?"
Actually, no. I never said that :) Here's my take on Blog comments: I try to pump out a substantial piece of content every single day. If I miss a day, I do my best to publish seven pieces of content every week. I also spend the time to really think about what I want to say, then I usually ask what your opinion is. More often than not, I don't have much more to add. If someone agrees with what I'm saying and adds their own perspective, that's awesome. If someone disagrees with what I'm saying, I usually don't have the impulse to argue because I don't necessarily disagree with their differing perspective... and that's the whole point of a Blog: a platform to share different and dissimilar views. In fact, I read all of the comments and think to myself: "nice one!" (even the ones that have a differing opinion). The ones that totally disagree with my point of view usually spark an idea for a new Blog post (like this one!).
Thanking someone for a contribution or starting a text war may not be engagement either.
Remember, your engagement may not be my engagement. In this space, the engagement is the thought provocation in the core Blog post and the added thoughts, values and insights that everyone (like you) adds to it. For me, filling up the space below with, "thank you!," "spot on!," or "I don't see things like you do," creates a different type of engagement. On a personal level, it also makes the page feel long and clunky. But, that's a personal opinion, and if you look at a Blog like Jason Falls' most excellent, Social Media Explorer, you'll see him thank, comment and acknowledge almost every single person who comments on his Blog. It's not only an impressive act (because he has such a large audience), but it probably goes a long way in making his readers feel validated and acknowledged (it is probably also part of the reason why he has so much traffic and community). Again, there is no "right way" or "wrong way" - they're both different ways to engage with a community.
Everybody reads everything.
In a world of Google Alerts, RSS feeds and news readers, you can rest assured that anyone with their own publishing platform (be it a Blog, Podcast, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc...) is paying close attention to everything that is being said about them, their brands, their employees, their competitors and the industry they serve. On top of that, all of the platforms provide different levels (and ways) for there to be engagement. And yes, sometimes I do comment - when I have something to say or add or whatever. Like you, I'm human (well, at least half-human and half-Lycan, but that's for another Blog post) and the impulse to add something simply because this is my space can be overbearing, so instead, I fight that impulse and find engagement through the comments and ideas that you add and share and riff off of.
Does that make sense? Or, do you think that engagement means constant acknowledgement of your presence?