October 20, 2014

Participation Inequality: Why You Should Comment on This Blog Post

By Justin H.

I see you there, reading this blog post. You might skim through it quickly. You might even read every word, but will you leave a comment afterwards?

We can all recount a situation where we were amongst a large group of people and knew almost no one. It might have been your first day at school, your first day at a new job or a crowded night out on the town, but at some point you have been in a large crowd of people that made you feel small. This is essentially what the internet is.

Millions upon millions of websites are floating around on the web just begging to be seen, without the convenience of being able to stand up on a bar stool and shout to the masses. The majority of people would love to be the life of the party and have the ability to chat with a new acquaintance as if they were a best friend of 20 years. The problem is that people are afraid to take initiative and make that first move, even though most people in a large gathering are in the same boat. Instead, we lurk.

Statistically, 9 out of every 10 people reading this blog post are known as “lurkers,” or consumers of internet content who do not contribute. This concept was detailed in great lengths in an article from Nielsen Norman Group. Stating that 90% of consumers are lurkers who consume web content without contributing, about 9% contribute a little bit, and the other 1% are responsible for just about all the creating and commenting. This is known as participation inequality.

When it comes to blog commenting and participation inequality, we are all very much one of those lost people in a crowded room. We would love for someone to come talk to us, but do we ever initiate the conversation? If everyone is standing around waiting for someone to approach them, no one ever gets anywhere. If you really want to be part of the 1% crowd, you’ll have to open up.
A blog comment might not seem like a big deal, but it represents a small window through which we can see the bigger picture. All the content creators on the internet will welcome a comment, so you have nothing to lose. However, not all comments are good.

An article in Blog Marketing Academy detailed both the good and bad of blog comments. A big faux-pa would be for you to take in a 1,500-word, well-crafted and heartfelt article, and then leave a comment like, “nice!” Think about if you had just poured your heart out in a text the length of a phone book, only to receive a response of, “K” or “lol”. Other very bad comments are obvious self-promotion of your own website, or links to other articles you have created. Only post a link in a comment when it is very relatable to the post you just read, because otherwise it comes across as extremely tacky and desperate.

A good comment will be something that contributes to the conversation and the topic at hand. Add your two cents and sprinkle it with a few nice words. Most website owners will be jubilant that someone took the time to deliver an insightful response. Don’t be afraid to get a conversation going.

Blog commenting represents an online sense of community. A simple comment on another blog that either gets a conversation going or grabs the writer’s attention will surely make them happy, maybe even enough to take a look at your blog. You can develop a nice fruitful relationship this way by continually letting the other writers know that you are on the same wavelength as they are. If you practice similar methods on your blog by responding to reader’s comments, eventually you are all helping each other by bringing traffic and starting conversations on each other’s blogs. Granted, the likelihood of this happening is much greater if you are commenting on small blogs, but a comment doesn’t take much time and it could go a long way towards eventually bringing you more traffic. A quick exchange of mutual admiration can easily result in a nice little blog friendship. It also doesn’t hurt to be persistent. The more you comment on someone’s blog, the more likely it is that the writer looks at your blog.

Social media also plays a role in blog commenting as well, since it is one of the most effective ways to draw traffic to your own site. Say you comment on another blog, and you are one of the best and earliest commenters. If you commented on a reputable blog, there is a solid chance that it could start making the rounds on the Twittersphere. If the post starts developing a solid buzz on social media, and you have one of the top comments, all of a sudden you are getting noticed. It’s that simple!

Strangers always beat it into your brain when they insist, “they don’t bite”. College professors and prospective employers beat it into your brain that you need to network. Blog comments subscribe to both of those ideas. Nothing bad can come from taking a few seconds to start up a conversation. The best case scenario is that you end up generating lots of traffic to your blog, as well as developing some quality like-minded followers online. The worst thing that can happen is that you make the writer’s day with your comment. So, next time you are in that packed room full of people you don’t know, don’t be afraid to just say hello. Be a member of the 1% instead of the 99%.


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