Let's start with a true/false quiz:
- True or False: Nobody comments on B2B blog posts.
- True or False: Quality blog posts will always generate comments on their own without promotion.
- True or False: Using your personal contact list to draw commenters to your blog is cheating.
- True or False: The only comments that matter are from genuine, regular readers.
- True or False: You have to blog all the time if you want to build up enough readers to comment on your blog posts.
Are any of these true? I propose that they're all false, and I have a case study about a recent SAS blog post that shows why.
Caroline McCullen is the Director of Education Initiatives at SAS. She blogs once a year on the SAS Voices blog during Computer Science Education Week, and her posts for the last two years have generated great conversations. See the comments areas on her posts:
How does she do it? These are just a handful of the things she's doing right:
- Write an interesting and topical - but not exhaustive - post. Caroline makes her point clearly and provides links for reference, but she does not write a 5,000 word essay covering every possible argument. Keeping the posts brief leaves plenty of room for other people to add their two cents and build upon the ideas that Caroline has already presented.
- Focus your post content on the issues, not yourself. Computer science education is an important issue to Caroline and to SAS - but the issue itself is bigger than that. She focuses on the broader implications instead of narrowing in on why this matters to SAS.
- Promote the post to your contacts, but (again) promote the issues first. Send an email with a few key facts that points people to your content.
- Do not be afraid to ask. Some bloggers are afraid to ask directly for comments, but it makes sense to request comments from leaders in the field who can make a meaningful contribution. They might actually be flattered if you request their opinion, and their comments are sure to make the conversation richer. Suggesting one or two areas that are ripe for additional comment doesn't hurt.
- Encourage email and hallway commenters to re-comment on the blog. If someone approaches you in the hall and mentions how much they liked your post, ask them to reiterate their points on the blog itself. When a colleague sent Caroline a few links that related to her post, she asked them to leave a comment with those links so others could see them too.
- Respond to every comment. When readers see that you're taking the time to respond, they will be more encouraged to comment - and anticipate your resonse.
The Friday before Computer Science Education Week, Caroline promoted the event in an email to her friends, with a link to the event's site. Three days later, she sent a brief email to her contacts with a link to her blog post and a request for comments. For a handful of key contacts, she sent personal emails that included details she knew they would appreciate.
If you're a more frequent blogger, you might not want to blast your entire contact list for every single post, but since Caroline blogs infrequently, she can contact everyone. More regular bloggers can pick one or two posts a month to send to everyone. Or consider dividing your contact list into groups and sending relevant posts to the relevant groups.
What else do you see that Caroline is doing right? How many of these tips have you already tried? And what else do you do to encourage conversation on your blog posts?