A lively, thriving comment section is a hallmark feature of a good blog. But way too many blog owners treat comments like prizes. The more they collect, the better. They don’t respond to each person. They often don’t respond to any person at all.
It’s enough to make you wonder if you should even bother writing a comment. Does anyone read it?
Worse, what happens if you stumble upon an old post? It could be a really great one, the comment section full of thoughts and reader opinions – but, it’s past its prime. It dates to last month, or maybe even last year.
Not worth leaving a comment there either, is it? No one’s going to answer old news.
And yet, I wonder…
Can You Read My Mind?
Our comment section has great community spirit. The place often rocks. People write thoughtful comments, come back later to chip in more thoughts, talk with each other and not just with us, and everyone is fantastically friendly and welcoming.
Sometimes you’ll even hear the gang cheer each other on.
Here’s an excerpt of a comment that recently cropped up: “What a great post, James! I was thinking about this just the other day and I…”
I smiled. That was nice. The comment was cheery and thoughtful and I agreed. It was from a new commentator, too. Awesome.
Then I went back to work.
Yes, I do stupid things like that sometimes. My brain assumes that commentators know that I’m smiling, happy they chimed in, and giving them mental pats on the back even though I don’t reply back and tell them so in my own comment.
You all do know that, right? Every comment here makes me happy, and I read each one. Back pats to all of you.
Oh come on. Who am I kidding? Of course you don’t know any of that, especially if you’re a new reader.
And I realized that this oh-so-common blog owner attitude might be detrimental to gaining new readers.
Out Of Sight, Out of Mind
The problem of what to do with old blog posts is a big one. Blog owners are sad that some of their best work falls to the side and gets less attention. The commentators who were right in the thick of things the day the post went live eventually let discussions slide and dwindle off as new posts get published.
Readers rarely go back in time. They’re always looking for something new, the latest and greatest. Old news? Yuck!
It’s time for a change of mindset, people. Those old posts are brand new for a new visitor that just arrived on your blog. That person lands – someway, somehow – on a less-recent (but just as kick-ass) blog post, and enjoys it enough to comment.
And no one pays attention.
No one responds. Not the blog owner, not the past commentators. No discussion revives. And everyone thinks there’s really no point in bothering because hey, that post is old. The interest has passed. No one even remembers what interested them about the post in the first place.
Might as well just hit that delete button, flush the Subscribe to Comments notification and just go back to work, eh?
It’s so silly. Bloggers want attention for old posts. They’ve convinced themselves no one cares , and so they don’t even pay attention to the fact that someone is actually doing exactly what they wished they’d do.
They’re caring. They’re reading an old post. They’re expressing interest.
Revive Your History Through a Single Experience
Every post you publish on your blog has the potential to be read forever ( assuming your blog and the Internet lasts that long). Every person that visits can become a reader for life. All it takes is a great first experience to gain a loyal reader who thinks well of you and your blog.
That person who just landed and commented on an old post probably doesn’t even know that it’s old. The published date might show, but who really pays attention to that? Most people don’t. You can even remove the date from displaying, too, if it makes you feel better.
And truthfully, if a new reader drops a comment on an old post, the person doesn’t really care when that post was written.
You shouldn’t either. It was a great post. It was worthy of a comment back then when it was fresh, and it’s still worthy of a comment now.
That comment is worthy of your response, too. If someone’s paying attention to what you’ve written, return the kindness and pay attention to that person. Forget when the post was written. Your reader is brand-new, he or she matters, and you want to give the person a great first experience.
That “old post” mindset is just all in your head.
Besides, who knows who’s still subscribed to the comments for that post? They may read the notification of a new comment. They might be intrigued. They might respond. Who says they won’t?
You and your new commentator might actually end up reviving the discussion on an old post and make it all new again. You might get people talking, get other bloggers linking to the post and get your content rockin’ away like it did back on the day it went live.
Even if you don’t, I can definitely guarantee you’ll have one new commentator thinking well of you for your time, your attention and your reply – and that’ll be one new reader to add to your blog.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some comments that need a reply…