by Aliza Sherman
Hi there, The Digital Marketer here, ready to help you put the power of the Internet and technology to work for your business.
Are you about to start a blog but are worried about how to manage the comments people make on your blog? Or did you turn off the comments feature entirely because you were afraid commenting might get out of hand and become difficult to manage?
I'm an avid blogger so when clients tell me the main reason they aren't blogging is because they're afraid of the extra work handling blog comments might create, I often tell them they'd be lucky to have so many comments on their blog to handle. The truth is most blogs don't get a lot of comments, and trying to encourage your blog visitors to comment can be challenging.
Tips for Managing Blog Comments
The first thing you should know about the comments feature on blogs is that comments make blogs "social." People often come back to a blog as much for the comments as for the blog posts. And the comments section of a blog can become an online community almost by default as frequent visitors who comment on your posts also get to know one another through your blog. While most blog publishing tools allow you to turn off the comments feature, you could be eliminating one of the most powerful traffic builders for your blog.
Here are some tips to help you manage your blog comments:
1. Develop internal blog comment guidelines. Before you publish your blog -- or if your blog is already up, make this a priority assignment -- develop a set of guidelines for yourself or your team regarding blog comments. This document can be part of an overall blog strategy and the guidelines that spell out exactly who can post to the blog, who edits and approves blog posts, and who has the power to publish them. For blog comments, determine who will be checking the comments regularly, and what will be approved and what will be marked as spam.
3. Moderate comments. Most blog publishing tools allow some form of blog comment moderation. Some tools give you the option to approve all comments while others force visitors to fill in a verification form to prove they are human and not blog spammers. Whatever the mechanism, instead of removing blog comments altogether from your blog, build in some kind of interim screening process. Some people think everyone who visits a blog wants to see their comments appear immediately, but that is not necessarily true so get to know your blog visitors and decide what works best for you and for them.
4. If you don't moderate, setup blog comments to be emailed. Most blog publishing tools allow you to enter an email address where all blog comments can be sent even if you aren't having to approve them. Make sure you set up this feature to stay current with the activity on your blog without having to visit the blog several times a day to peruse the comments. If you're not moderating your blog comments, you need to be more diligent about checking the blog, especially if the comments are not being emailed to you.
5. If you don't moderate, have a delete policy. Put in writing the specific reasons why you might delete a comment from your blog. Most bloggers will remove offensive comments that use profanity or attack others, however, every blogger's tolerance level is different. Ask yourself not only what would you tolerate but what would your readers and customers tolerate as well.
Overall, pick a blog publishing tool -- free or fee-based -- that provides you with some level of comment control. WordPress.com provides blog comment management. Blogger blogs allow you to specify if you want to allow anyone -- including anonymous users -- to post comments or only registered Blogger users, only users with Google accounts, or only members of your blog. Typepad gives you even more blog comment management options including letting you hold comments for approval, close comments per post after a certain amount of time, and block visitors who submit offensive comments or blog spam.
Bottom Line: The comments section of your blog can be the magnet that attracts blog visitors and the glue that keeps them coming back not only to read but to participate. With the right process in place, managing blog comments should be, well, manageable. Remember what I say to those who fear blog comment management: you should be so lucky to have that many comments on your blog!
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WordPress.com - http://www.wordpress.com/
Blogger - http://www.blogger.com
Typepad - http://www.typepad.com