May 25, 2013

Encouraging Reader Engagement on a Blog

English: Second version of File:Enwikinews-LQT...
English: Second version of File:Enwikinews-LQT-edits.png, showing LQT as well as normal comments. Red is comments submitted with LQT, blue is comments submitted via normal editing to Comments namespace (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I previously recommended that new bloggers hoping to build an initial readership and establish their reputation shoot for writing 1 post per day. I still think there is merit to this suggestion; however, I also believe that there is an important exception. For those bloggers who are more interested in encouraging reader engagement (comments in particular), 1 post per day may be too many.

Some posts, especially those in which the blogger asks questions of his or her readers or those that invite controversy, will produce a fair number of comments. These posts tend to be more popular, be shared more often, and are more likely to be sought out by readers. But for most of us, not all posts are going to be like this. How might we encourage reader engagement on other sorts of posts?

One of the things I've noticed while blogging is that visitors are more likely to leave comments on the most recent post than they are on any other equivalent posts. This shouldn't be much of a surprise. After all, the most recent post is what most visitors are going to see first. This does highlight an important issue for those seeking to increase reader engagement: posting too often will probably reduce the average number of comments per post.

From what I have observed at Atheist Revolution, most posts require some time for reader engagement. If I continue to post so that the target post drops from the most recent spot, comments tend to decline. Alternatively, if I leave the post on which I am trying to encourage reader engagement in the most recent spot for a couple days, I tend to see far more comments. Readers have the opportunity to interact with one another rather than just with the post content. Sometimes this can produce some fascinating discussion.

When you write a blog post on which you would like to encourage reader engagement, try leaving it in your top spot for at least 2-3 days and see if it makes a difference. You just might find that the sort of reader engagement you've been seeking takes some time to develop.

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