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Comments Make Content More Valuable

Just Ask the Hugely Successful Huffington Post

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[ Social Media]

Comments are the backbone of the social web. Everything is going social if it has not already been that way for some time. Why is that? People are social by nature. It’s how we communicate. It’s how we learn. It’s how we teach. Do you find comments to be valuable resources? Share your thoughts.

Conversations are built upon comments going back and forth and branching out in new directions, taken from one channel to the next. As the web as a whole has become more social, the conversation has gotten larger and it has become easier for anyone to get involved at a growing number of destinations, whether you join in the comments on a blog post, a Twitter stream, a Facebook News Feed,  an email , a Google result (courtesy of SearchWiki), IMDB, a forum, a YouTube video, etc.

The web has never been as connected as it is now, and it is only becoming more so each time any service rolls out a new sharing feature. Facebook launched Facebook Connect, Digg launched the Diggbar, somebody launched the Shareaholic Firefox add-on, etc. These are just a few examples of thousands of content sharing tools.

Shareaholic Example

There is value in conversation. I’m sure you’ve heard of the wisdom of crowds. Is every blogger an authority on something? No. Are all bloggers the authority on the subject of each of their posts? Of course not. That’s why commenting is an option.

Comments add value for the reader.
If a blogger is wrong about something (or even if he is not, but there is some debate), there are comments there to at least provide different views. Readers can then take these in with the original post and use their own judgment to reach their own conclusion, or use it as reason to further research the topic. Either way, they are getting value out of it because they are not taking one person’s word for it.

When you’re talking about a blog, or a news site, or really any kind of content site, comments add value. They don’t just add vale for the reader, but for the publisher as well.

WebProNews recently conducted an interview with James Smith, Chief Revenue Officer for the Huffington Post, a very popular social news site. In fact, James attributes the site’s success to being social. He says the site currently logs over a million comments a month.

"The reason I like to read HuffingtonPost is because of the comments – it makes it feel so much more community based AND the comments are refreshed quite quickly," writes Susan, commenting on a WebProNews post looking at the interview (and adding value to that post of course).

In the above clip, Smith talks about some types of things that attract people to want to "dive into" content. He mentions polls, images, and most popular stats, like showing the most popular news stories, and how many comments they have. Readers see hot topics of conversation, and often feel more compelled to look at that content because they have an indication that it has generated some interest.

Of course this helps page views, which can help advertising, and so on and so forth. This benefits everyone involved. Advertisers get more clicks. Publishers get more money from advertisers. Readers get more valuable content – not only from the comments, but because if the publisher is doing well financially, they’ll be able to keep providing the content. Everybody wins. Furthermore, the publisher will be more inclined to post on subjects of interest, because they will attract comments, and the cycle continues.

Sometimes readers need a little push for commenting (which is why you’ll often see comment links scattered throughout WebProNews content). It’s simply a call to action for added value for all parties. Blogger Neville Hobson has a nice list of tips you can use to encourage comments.

As a blogger/publisher, once you get comments, keep up with them, and stay involved in the conversation when applicable (certainly time can be a factor here). For one, it will give the commenters a reason to come back, and conversations that come from comments can often inspire future posts. There also may be some things that fit right into your post that you hadn’t thought of, and they will be there as additional resources for your readers.

Do you enjoy reading comments on articles and blog posts? Do you find yourself commenting frequently? Tell us.

Comments Make Content More Valuable
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  • http://www.shareaholic.com Jay Meattle

    Chris,

    Many thanks for including Shareaholic! if you’d like to find out more about what we’re up to, feel free to drop me an email anytime :)

    Jay

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks for the offer on that Jay. It’s a really useful add-on.

  • http://n95surgicalmask.co.cc/ N95 Surgical Mask

    Good tips..

  • http://www.internetmarketingtip.us Susan

    I’ve been telling my blog readers about the advantages of posting blog comments for several years and to date have about 5 who comment frequently.

    Since my readers don’t believe me maybe they will believe you. I’ll be informing my readers, friends and followers about this article today.

    • Chris Crum

      Thanks for spreading the conversation, Susan.

  • http://www.writtenbysumer.com Michelle Salater

    The interview with James Smith is an excellent illustration of how important the social media element is on traditional websites. I believe our society has become more and more social, simply because technology has allowed us to. We can share information with the world within seconds of receiving it. I think people have really taken advantage of this social aspect and I believe technology, as well as, society will continue to evolve in this

    • Chris Crum

      The emergence of real time services is really playing a big role too.

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    Just like when you tell a friend about a business, comments are mostly real and provide others with .. “hey, this site is good or bad” for this reason or another.

    I think it’s wise to have a comment on sites but they should also be policed as many are spammers, competitors and will try and bring you down. It’s ok to allow a bad comment as long as you reply and take care of the complaint.

    If all comments are good, then it’s fixed or you’re the best site ever and actually even on the web nobody / site is ever perfect.

    Great article.
    Snerdey

    • Chris Crum

      Yes, comments certainly require some maintenance, which can at times become time consuming unfortunately. Just like within anything else, there will be people abusing it.

  • http://twitter.com/ruthbelena Ruth Belena

    I do like commenting on blogs, and it’s always nice to get comments on my own blog posts, and on my forum responses, tweets and online articles.

    I recently posted on one of my blogs that It is unrealistic to write and post on a blog, expecting it to be visited and read, if you never visit and read what others are writing and posting on their blogs.

    • Chris Crum

      It certainly helps. I’ll give you that.

  • http://officialsafetyandsecurity.com Official Safety and Security

    I like being able to join in the conversation that’s why I started a forum on my safety and security web site. Five days a week I add fresh content there in the form of safety tips and information on how to improve ones security level. Visitors can join in the conversation or just click away taking with them some good information on how to stay a little bit safer. Thanks, Chris!

  • http://www.planetbuzz.com Planet Buzz

    Social networking is about word of mouth, and word of mouth is commenting. Some might say expressing your opinion is what the Internet is grown to be, its

  • http://www.SusanGrisanti.com Susan Grisanti Guitarist

    You’re absolutely right~ one thing that makes the whole internet revolution successful is the interactive aspect, the globe becomes the new ‘party in your living room’ ~ For example YouTube & the ability to comment on Videos makes the Videos that much more rewarding to watch, & also raises the bar on creativity~
    Maybe All websites should have a ‘Comments’ Column, what do you think?

    • http://www.opace.co.uk Opace Technology Solutions

      What an interesting idea, but could you imagine the number of companies that could have their online (and maybe offline) reputation ruined by some disgruntled customer deciding to leave negative comments on their website.

      Having said that, if I

  • http://www.neostead.com Neostead

    Huffpo’s commenting system is terrible though – especially for reaching older comments. And doing a call to action can be pretty embarrassing when you ask a question in a post that gets no answer, but yes, I often go to the comments before the post itself because it’s where the most off the cuff and passionate writing often gets done.

    • Chris Crum

      You have a point about the “off the cuff an passionate” stuff often coming out in the comments. You can look at the comments on just about any eBay article on WebProNews and see that.

  • http://botipton.com Bo Tipton

    Thank you for the post. Putting links to leave a comment other then at the end of a post is a good idea that I will implement.

    Thanks
    Bo Tipton
    The Ornery Marketer

  • http://workinginjammies.blogspot.com/ Carolee

    I love getting them- let’s you know you’re not writing for yourself only.

    I also love reading comments on other sites. Some get quite fiery- a few weeks ago, I was captivated with a heated debate about “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”

    This morning, it was a battle between an author and homeschoolers.

    Rarely a dull moment where blogs are concerned.

    And….I’ve already won 3 things online from leaving comments.

    For a list of give-aways, go to:

    http://bloggersconnect.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.wikibin.org Guest

    Of course they help, but only when they’re useful. I think it’s also a good idea to install the “nofollow” tag, if the comments are genuine than they don’t need the “dofollow”.

    IMHO

  • http://www.publicspeakingforyou.com Speaking out

    Its about getting information out there into the public forum. The amount of information available now is incredible and it means people can get knowledge about stuff even when they are isolated.

  • http://www.vesta-tech.net Designer

    Internet site becomes credible with this blogs and comments, makes it also successful.

  • http://www.villamendez.com.ph Tagaytay

    Blogs and comments makes good business avenue for those who knows.

  • http://www.beijingjourney.com Tony

    I think the comments are the most valuable part of social networking. You read an article, blog etc, but the comments add depth and life by providing discussion/conversation. If I find something interesting, I definitely read all the comments. There is a lot to be learned from what others say.

    • http://getmoney2us.blogspot.com gun

      I agree with tony as many comments but not comment on most of our content is only stigmatize them or accuse us web as spam

  • http://www.brandontran.com Brandon Tran

    Anytime I read an article related to design, coding, and those types of issues, I do read through the comments. Many times it helps further the article. I can usually find answers to questions within the comments if I can’t find it in the article.

    Especially in the genre of applications. Users help each other out a tremendous amount.

  • http://www.auto1.com.au Auto1

    Comments bring the reality to things and allows for a lot of information to be exchanged. Its a great way to network and socialize.

  • http://www.declutterexpert.com Organize

    I think comments can really help you get more indepth information about an article. The questions I am thinking about are often discussed in comments and helps me get through all the clutter and straight to the answer.

  • http://getmoney2us.blogspot.com money-money

    I think that is correct, the many comments that our content is automatically interesting that so many visitors come. So the comments can make the correct value but must be supported with all the content.

  • http://www.spiritualhospitalitycoach.com Hospitable Coach

    Yes, I always leave a comment on a blog if there is something I especially agree with or if I disagree.

    There is nothing worse than writing a post and nobody comments. So I often comment to let the blogger know that somebody is indeed reading. I also enjoy reading other people’s comments, as well. I love it when you write a comment and it appears right away rather than going into “moderation.”

    I have two blogs but must admit they are difficult to maintain. I was on a roll for a while, then “stuff happened.” I’m excited, though, as I plan to get back into posting on them. Stay tuned and I’ll look for your comments!

  • http://livertising.vox.com LIVErtising

    Comments do not add value – they constitute the social web. I agree. And take the opportunity to note your ‘tweet this’ widget – another social tool – does not provide “flow” – it does not shorten the URL to your page, providing longer tweets than affordable – can you fix this to make the twitexperience from you site more enjoyable?

    jean-pierre ranschaert
    LIVErtising.vox.com
    @LIVErtising

    • http://inchoo.net Toni Anicic

      I totally agree with you on the twitter widget.

    • Chris Crum

      On the tweet this widget, I have never had any trouble with a URL not being shortened. The one I just did used a bit.ly URL…this is not really my department, but I will pass on the word that some are having issues. We certainly want it to be usable by anyone who wants to use it.

  • http://inchoo.net Toni Anicic

    It’s a well known fact that on the web, content is king and comments equals content. There is no point in discussing this, comments are extremely important.

  • http://www.opace.co.uk Opace Technology Solutions

    Comments build on the content that the author has posted, allowing users to collaborate on the subject matter. The big benefit of comments for me is that they provide a wider, and often less biased view of the subject. Usually, if I have a question, it

  • http://www.charlotteswebstudios.com Web Design Va

    I agree that comments benefit everyone involved … and they make the content more interesting. Often times, I think the comments can be more interesting & thought provoking than the article or blog entry itself.

  • http://www.india-designers.net/ Subhash

    Comments always motivate the writers. Comments always plays plays an important role in any discussion to find out the best solution. May be some of them agree with you and some of them don’t agree but it makes a healthy discussion. It gives an great opportunity to learn more. Some times we think that whatever we have written is absolutely right but when we find other people’s comments on that particular subject then we know that yes where we are right and where we are wrong. It certainly help us in strengthen.

  • Mollie

    I don’t deny the value of comments – especially when it develops into a lively, thoughtful exchange of opposing viewpoints! But my concern is managing comments to prevent the spammers or irrelevant axe-grinders from getting a foothold. Some sites use post-moderation, and I generally turn off comments on such sites because they tick me off. I feel a site should limit comments only to the number of articles it can effectively moderate – but there is some pressure to auto-post comments with a post-moderation “Flag this” approach, and I’m not comfortable with that.

  • http://www.silverguru.co.za Guest

    If you have ever been the victim of the spamming ants, you would make sure that you do NOT allow comments. It is just not worth it, with the 1000′s trying to be funny,advertising sex pills or porno. Sorry, if you wish to engage me , mail me.

    • http://www.fanhistory.com/wiki/User:Laura Laura

      The comment spam is an issue that also makes comments less than desirable in many ways for me too. If I make a post about a very specific aspect of Twilight, some one will comment “Twilight rocks!” with a name like Vitamin Pills and a url that reads that way. I kind of assume that they think it is on topic enough that the comment won’t be marked as spam and it falls into that category where it can almost go either way. Thus, they won’t be deleted. Frustrating to deal with.

  • http://www.thepayperclickformula.com PayPerClickFormula

    In today’s world of facebook/twitter junkies, comments mean everything. If you’re essentially talking to yourself, you become some tiny blip of obscurity. And while a good conversation is always positive for any site, you also have to deal with those who post simply to incite anger and frustration. But alas we are country of free thinkers.

  • marmalade-art

    I included a comments page for about a week,spent most of the time checking for spam etc just not worth it.

    MARMALADE-ART

    • http://www.webdread.co.cc/ webdread

      I personally find comments very informative as well educative, there is just no limit to what or how much you can learn as well contribute.I say this from personal experience of course there will always be some negative but overall the process and purpose is most positive.webdread.

  • http://www.notjustthekitchen.com Rita

    I regularly visit several baby boomer websites to see what the boomers are discussing. I always feel compelled to comment on well written interesting posts.
    Both the articles and comments give me good ideas on what I should post on my baby boomer for women website.

  • http://www.doghouseplans.net/ dog house plans

    Positive and negative comments are always present. Much worst if all comments are just spams! If that’s the case, I believe comments become useless.

  • http://www.companiesmadesimple.com Katie

    Great post!

    I think commenting on blogs is what social media is all about. Not only does is allow people a platform, it also provides readers with new information that may be useful.

    Thanks,

    Katie

  • http://www.eglobalhomebiz.com Jimi

    I like reading comments which are related to the topic discussed but not irrelevant comments. Constructive comments can bring out points which the author might overlooked.

  • http://thegreatskin.blogspot.com/ fashionista

    comments are actually a new idea where you learn from what other say.

  • http://www.timesharescheap.net Tony Lee

    Without comments, blogs and social networks really have little value. It’s the electricity of commenting that drives the success of these types of sites.

    They also enhance conversation and value and keep things alive.

  • http://www.buy-cheap-vibrators.com Buy Cheap Vibrators

    The more comments the better this will rank. I guess its like cheap vibrations but Google love it.

  • http://www.nortad.com Totonto Free Ads Posting Provider

    Am still divided and not 100% convinced. I tend to lock posts and blogs simply for fear of spam (not the commercial one,but the-too-much-time-on-their-hands type of thing.So ithink it’s left to those who can afford time and resources

  • http://www.MarketingQuickiesBlueprint.com Marketing Quickies Blueprint

    I always have a glance through comments on a post that I’m interested in. There are so many knowledgeable people out there willing to share and you never know what ‘gold nugget’ of information you’ll find and what else you’ll discover when further researching the topic.

  • http://www.mypaidsurveyreviews.com/ Yatie

    Yess, I agreed the post comments help us more valuable.

  • http://Lillicotch.com Jim Lillicotch

    I want and invite comments because I feel it makes my posts more vibrant and valuable.
    I recently noticed that WordPress adds the nofollow attribute to my commenters links by default. I feel that this is a bad idea and have removed it. I guess they think they are fighting blog spam, but I feel that it discourages comments. I want to offer my legitimate commenters something in return for their ideas and a real link back is the least that I can do.

  • http://www.onlinesteppingstones.com Online stepping stones

    Comments are extremely valuable. It gives a valuable insight from other interested users ideas and can generate other topics of conversation. Love commenting and love getting comments.

  • http://www.yourperfectbodyguaranteed.com Herbalife

    I agree not only do the comments add to the article and make it vibrant but also the comments definitately give more knowledge to the conent and thereby add so much more value, not to mention that slant of opinion.

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