Do you find it difficult to get readers to post in your comment area?
Creating comments is one thing, but what about generating an actual conversation where other people congratulate each other, give feedback or talk about writing in general?
Comments create social credibility when people show up to your site for the first time, but they also create community. Community is more important because there’s a good chance those people that show up a few times will eventually fade away.
It’s the people who find a club they belong to that stick around on a blog.
How can you create that community by stimulating the callouts you offer at the end of all your blog posts?
Let’s review nine callout types that have worked for others including myself.
Questions About the Article
A question at the end of your article is essential. This is Blogging 101, and you will notice that every blog post I include on Write With Warnimont ends with a question in bold lettering that encourages people to post in the comments.
This is the quickest way to get others to chat with you. It’s probably not the most effective, but it works for those times when you need to finish up and publish.
Joe Bunting is the king of writing prompts. Frankly I think he has created one of the best communities for writers, because everyone contributes long paragraphs in each comment, and people actually interact with each other in the comments section (instead of the site moderator just saying thanks to each original commenter.)
Joe accomplishes this community at The Write Practice by offering up a new writing prompt for every single blog post. Sure he includes a callout question for the article, but the site always provides a prompt for people to write in the comments area.
Readers give feedback, post encouragement and become better writers in a simple comments area.
Taking a Stance
This is a popular option for stirring up a debate. The callout basically works as bait to get people to side with you or agree with you. The callout is still posed as a question, but it is preceded by a statement. For example: The Bears need to get rid of their quarterback ASAP. What do you think? Who would be a good replacement?
This would work well for a sporting site or a blog that followed the Chicago Bears. People will stop their lives for subjects they are passionate about. Voice your opinion and coax others to join you or take up arms.
A Question in Your Follow Up
You have the responsibility to follow up with all the comments that people post on your blog. I typically try to respond to all comments that people post on my blog for recent articles. I do struggle to generate conversation after that initial comment. I credit this to my one word or one sentence replies. Readers take time out of their day to acknowledge your original callout, so why not give them another? If they tell you a story that relates to your article, don’t say “What a great story.” Ask for more. This makes your readers feel like you are interested. I have to work on this myself.
A Link to Your Comments
The comment area is typically mashed underneath other items such as related posts, email sign-up forms, ads, social sharing links and more clutter. Several pro bloggers place a link in their callout to direct people past everything but the comments. Michael Hyatt includes a link in almost all of his posts similar to this:
Configuring this depends on your blogging backend, but most options require you to include additional text to the end of your article URL. The standard options are #respond, #comments and #comment. I use the Disqus comments system so that would be #disqus_thread at the end of my URL. Try clicking on the Comment button at the top of your article to see if your URL changes. To clarify this post’s comment link is http://www.writewithwarnimont.com/9-callouts-that-guarantee-reader-comments#disqus_thread.
A Catchy Title For Your Callout
I noticed the other day that a simple callout in bold lettering doesn’t stand out the way a header does on a blog. Social Media Examiner proves that theory by including a large header above the bolded callout. They include fun “pre-callouts” that grab the reader’s attention right before they click the “X” in the corner. Some examples I’ve seen at Social Media Examiner include “Over To You” or “It’s Your Turn.” Here’s a good example I found on the site:
There isn’t any better way to get people talking than by offering up a reward. The only problem I have with a reward is you increase the chances of made up replies or one-and-done commenters who never return. But if you want to get some past faithful viewers to reemerge, offer a little raffle for all the commenters. The best items to give away are things that don’t cost you a penny, like a free copy of your eBook or a video you made.
Full disclosure: I’ve never tried this and I’ve never seen anyone try it either, but I think an image that jumps out at people to comment after the article would be strong enough to get people moving to the comments section. I figure this would have to relate to your blog and include a fun bit of wording that makes people laugh, an arrow that points down and a link directly to the comments area if they click on the image. I’ll let you know if I try this in the future.
Leave an Obvious Point Out of Your Article
Cliffhangers create discussion in fiction, so why not give your readers something to bark about? If you write a blog post, think about one of the more obvious solutions to the problem you pose. Leave this out so readers say “duh!” and jump to their keyboard to correct your mishap. Authority is great, but covering every aspect of every topic is exhausting and leaves no room for discussion.
Your Time To Shine
Let me know in the comments how your unique callout gets people to chat it up.
Related to callouts: My next strategic change on my blog is to include a call-to-action after all my posts to encourage people to post news about their writing careers. Post a success or failure you had this past week and explain what measures you took to land upon that result. Feel free to provide links to publications. Everyone has a success and failure every week. What were yours? If you comment find another person and encourage them to keep trying or congratulate them. Learn from secrets and mishaps to accelerate your own writing career.
I’m going to start taking a cause and effect type approach with most of my blog posts to highlight areas that I took to achieve a goal and the results, whether good or bad. The first experiment was with getting rid of Microsoft Word (which I will have an update for in a few months.)