Why do you blog? Why should you blog?
One of my most favorite people is Gini Dietrich from Arment Dietrich and the always fun to read blog, Spin Sucks. Today, she published a blog titled, Responding (Or Not) to Blog Comments, in which she says: "...we ended up having a conversation about blog comments and replying to them. In fact, it's a conversation Mitch and I have nearly every time we talk. You see, he writes to write. It's like a disease for him. He has to get the words out of his head and onto the computer screen. He figures he's had his say by doing that and the comments are for everyone else to have their say."
No comments for you!
Gini goes on to define three types of bloggers and their level of comment engagement:
- The blog is widely read, but no one comments (Valeria);
- The blogger has his or her say and leaves the comments open for everyone to debate, argue, or agree with one another, but the blogger rarely responds (Mitch and Geoff); and
- The blogger replies to every comment left on his or her blog post (Chris and me).
Start with why...
Gini's description of me isn't (fully) accurate. I don't blog to write. I write to share my ideas. They happen to be on a blog platform. I don't consider my words final. I consider my words my own perspective on a marketing and media industry that is constantly evolving and very exciting. This blog is a mere publishing platform for me to do some critical thinking and share it with the world. Just because I don't actively respond to each and every comment, it doesn't mean that I am not reading them, thinking about the context and appreciative of the additional thinking.
The blog comments are not mine.
This is a bigger idea: I don't think that the blog comments are my responsibility. It's not a dialogue between the blogger and the reader. The blog comments are a space for anyone (and everyone) to add their opinions and engage in a discourse that goes beyond a digital two-way-dialogue. I believe that the best blogs are not the ones where a blogger responds to the comments, but where there are multiple people engaging with one another. I have the spotlight already. The blog comments are your space to shine. The blog comments are not about me and how I respond. The blog comments are about you and what you add to the discourse. For me, the best blog comments are the ones that add additional color and perspective. For me, the worst blog comments are the ones where the blogger is put up on some kind of pedestal and is gracious enough to be all self-congratulatory. That doesn't sound like a valuable community. That does sounds like a whole lot of self-validation.
When to respond.
I have not mastered this. More often than not, I publish a fully-baked idea. It has run its course in my brain, so whatever blog comments appear after that, I'm usually finding myself either nodding in agreement with or trying to better understand the differing perspective. I don't feel compelled to write a movie review after every movie I watch. I prefer to just let the content marinate in my brain. If something gets pickled, it either becomes an additional blog comment or a new and unique blog post. In short, I respond to a blog comment that stirs me to respond (and yes, I'm like that on my own blog and on all of your blogs as well).
A true sense of community.
A community is not built on my ideas and how you (as an individual) add a comment. My definition of community is a place where ideas are shared. If it's just my idea, your comment and me responding, that's not much of a community at all. If my blog post entices you to share it on Facebook, Twitter or create a video on YouTube, then that's the nascent stages of a true community - a place where ideas are shared. My writing isn't done to encourage dialog. My writing is done in the hopes that it encourages you to think differently about your business. In the end, this blog wasn't created as a platform for me to chat with you. It was created as a publishing platform to facilitate new thinking. I think this blog does encourage dialogue, but it's not between me and you... it's between us and the success of it is not driven by how many comments that I respond to, but rather how you think about your own business and where you want it to go.
The beautiful thing about it all is this...
- If you agree, fantastic.
- If you disagree, you are entitled to your opinion.
- If you want to leave some additional commentary, please feel free.
- If you don't, I'm not offended and I hope that you still get value from the content.
If everything is driven by how often and frequently I respond to comments, please know this: I am going to let you down. But, please know this as well: I read each and every comment and they all affect me (both the positive and the negative). Trust me, you don't need my comment to affirm you or your thinking. I'm not the leader of this community. I'm just someone blogging my thoughts. The community aspect (if there is one) is governed by all of us... equally.
Now, over to you...