Is Anybody Out There?
I mentioned in yesterday’s article that comments are the things that separate a successful blogger from someone who’s just talking to himself. That was meant to be funny, but it’s also true. You’ve been there, right? You know what it’s like to write your brains out post after post with only junk comments about cheap designer sunglasses to sift through.
In fact it’s kind of surreal when an actual person finally leaves a relevant comment on your blog. You read it over and over trying to make sure it’s for real before you approve it for the world to see. You write that person back and thank him for believing in you (even though he totally disagreed with the premise of your article).
The point is that you did it! Like Alexander Gaham Bell, you pioneered the unknown. You really reached out and touched someone. You’re the Captain Kirk of the Blogosphere, because you made first contact and finally received feedback from someone who isn’t your mom. That means there’s hope, right? It means you might totally pull this off. You could become a real boy! I mean… blogger.
It’s weird how, at the beginning, you can go weeks without the slightest acknowledgement from the web. Then when comments do come in, they seem random and sporadic. You try to duplicate what you did to earn them, but, try as you might, you can’t seem to attract the same attention again. It’s like a bad day of fishing (if there is such a thing).
Anyway, regardless of how you receive your first comments, there’s more than a moral victory to be had here. Comments are a wealth of information when you read between the lines. They tell you things about your audience that you won’t learn any other way – things you can use to fine tune your content, deliver even more value, and finally figure out what your people want from you.
So, in today’s post, we’re going to discuss 5 extremely important things you can learn from the comments that people leave on your blog or Social Media profile. This list isn’t exhaustive by any means. It’s meant to get you thinking and heading in the right direction. Tomorrow I’ll be posting 10 ways to get more comments, but before I give you those, I want to make sure that you are set up to get the full benefit from each and every one.
Who your audience is
One of the first things you can learn from your blog comments is who your audience is. Are they male or female? Are they young ladder-climbers or seasoned executives? Are they corporate cubicle-types or entrepreneurs? Look up their profiles, are they local? If not local, are they spread out over the country or the globe? Are they concentrated in certain areas?
What your audience wants to know
Another thing that your comments will tell you is what your audience wants to know. Which of the 3 Killer Content Keys do they prefer the most – Information, Education, or Entertainment? Which of the 6 Basic Article Types do they read the most? Do they prefer the 4 Advances Article Types over the basic ones? Which headlines get read the most? Are they from the same industries and markets? Are they truly interested in what you have to say or are they just piggy-backing on your content to boost their own enterprise. Or worse yet, are they merely commenting in an effort to eventually sell you something? Are they connected to a lot of other people? Do they publish quality content themselves?
When your audience reads and responds
You can learn a lot by looking at when your audience reads and responds to your content. Are they reading your stuff on the day you publish it or do your articles gain readership over time? Check the time stamp on their comments. Are they reading in the morning, at midday, or in the evening? Are there certain seasons or months when people look for your content more than others? Which Publishing Schedule do you use? How do your readers respond to your choice of publishing days and the frequency with which you post? Do you get readership on non-posting days? Is anyone checking you out on the weekends?
Where your audience engages you
Comments will tell you where your readers prefer to engage your content. Are they leaving comments on your website in your blog posts? Are they commenting via Social Media sites like LinedIn, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter? Do they comment, share, or just like and +1 your posts? Are they engaging you at work or at home? Are you receiving attention on what I call secondary Social Media sites like Reddit, StumbleUpon, Pinterest, and Delicious? Do you receive emails or private messages from readers with questions or comments?
How your audience wants to receive information
How your audience prefers to receive your content is important as well. Do they read your articles on your blog by going directly there? Do they get to your posts from links placed in Social Media? Are they on your email list? Are they watching your content in videos on YouTube, Vimeo or podcasts? Are they listening to your content in podcasts? Are they responding to your content when it get’s shared by someone else?
Remember the Big Picture
These are just some initial questions you could ask yourself as you evaluate the comments that people share. The important thing to remember is that, while it feels good just to receive comments, it’s also imperative that we learn from them. It is a gift to have your audience tell you what they want to know along with when, where, and how they prefer to receive it.
Successful bloggers pay attention to their audience and constantly taylor their material and delivery to provide as much value as possible. At the end of the day, providing value to your readers is the whole point of this gig. If you heap on the value, you’ll never have to hard sell anything.
How do you use your comments to learn about your audience? What suggestions do you have? Share a comment and let’s talk about it.