Has Engagement Shifted?

Has Engagement Shifted?

Over the last year or so I’ve noticed a trend throughout the blogosphere – including my own media properties. People don’t seem to be commenting on blogs with the frequency they once did. For example, my radio show American Cliche used to get anywhere from 10-25 comments per episode. Now, I’m lucky if I see 2 or 3. Why? My analytics tell me that the audience is still there, but they’re just not commenting. Have I done something differently to cause this?

It’s also occurring on this blog. I have several posts with numerous “reactions” but not a lot of comments. Take a look at the post I did about Van Halen – it was retweeted a bunch of times, but not commented on by anyone on the blog. By all accounts it is the most successful post I’ve done here to date, but what do the lack of comments mean?

My research and personal experience tells me that tools like Facebook and Twitter have moved commenting away from the blog and onto other platforms. People are venturing out less from their chosen communities and instead sharing feedback on social platforms rather than a blog.

I’m guilty of this as well in my behavior. I read between 25 and 50 blog posts a week, yet I may comment on only one or two. But, you’ll often see me sharing items I find interesting on Facebook and Twitter multiple times per day. I don’t think I’m any different than what most of you are doing. In fact, I wrote a post about the increase in linking to professional content the other day.

What does this say about engagement? Does it mean our blogs are missing the mark if there aren’t as many comments as there used to be? Does it mean our audience is less engaged or does it mean they are just engaging differently? Would you rather have a supporter that comments all the time on your site or one that shares your content with their audience via social channels?

I’m still trying to decide what this all means. I’d love to get your thoughts in the comments, or not, as the case may be.

  • I’ve noticed that the platform used to telegraph a blog post or video is usually where feedback is made. Incidently I found this via twitter, although I thought it would have been fitting to respond on here rather than a “nice post” tweet.

    Do you think it could also be simply the case that blogs feel old now? I know social networking isn’t old, but it’s always changing, whereas blogs rarely deviate from a very typical formula.

    Twitter is perhaps the most common way to give feedback (that I’ve noticed within the groups I move in) there is something less daunting about a 140 character tweet as opposed to a large comment box. And whilst tweets will always remain on a server somewhere they feel much more temporary than a blog comment. The preasure to write something substantial and worthwhile as opposed to the brevity and temporary nature of a tweet must play a part in it, right?

    • Chris,

      I think blogs, in some iteration will always be necessary as a place to actually crate and curate content. Twitter is great for soundbites and links, but you can’t delve into the meat of a topic in 140 characters. But for commenting I think you’re right – Twitter is just easier and more comfortable for most. I think using Twitter also makes feedback more public. You never know if a blog has 20 or 20,000 readers that might see your comment. But on Twitter, if you have a large following you increase your chances that your feedback will be seen and isn’t Twitter a bit about ego for most?

  • Anonymous

    This is a great study of why commenting on blog is shifting away from the blog itself. Maybe trackbacks need to become sensitive to content-sharing across social media?

    • bluephoenixnyc,

      I’d love to see a way to integrate people comments on Facebook and other platforms integrated back into the comments on a blog. Do you know a plugin that does that? I’m all for people engaging where they feel most comfortable, but it would be great to include those conversations back into the original discussion.

      • Anonymous

        Hey there Scott,

        Good question! I think commenting platforms like Open ID and Disqus (and these are the leaders in this part of social media) are probably verging on Facebook integration any day now. But I wouldn’t be surprised if more blog authors outsourced comment management to those kind of platforms. They take care of themselves and tap into a nascent network, instead of requiring the user to sign up.

        I know other blogs also have Facebook functionality where users leave comments that track back to their Facebook accounts…

        • I like Disqus a lot. I love the idea of a platform following your activity across the web and on multiple blogs. Once we can include platforms like Facebook into that mix I think we’ll have a comprehensive solution to really foster and harness engagement.

  • I’d rather have a supporter who shares my content because it casts my net wider than some moral support.

    • Jeff,

      I sort of agree with you. casting that net is huge. Word of mouth and the trusted recommendation is the key to great marketing today. Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Scott and Chris, I’ve also noticed the shift from commenting to sharing and trackbacks. Despite my love of bite-size media platforms, it makes me sad. I suspect that we – enthusiastic and highly active social media advocates – are partially to blame for this. We’ve talked about how great Twitter and Facebook are, and relished the expansion of each platform enabling greater versatility in what and how of sharing. We’ve encouraged companies and clients to pay attention to the medium. We’ve advised them to make their content easier for customers and readers to post on Twitter or Facebook. We’ve hyped conversation and reach, and trivialized discussion and rich community. We’ve created throngs of curators and lost our contributors.

    I believe blogs are still relevant and needed. Longer-form channels are better for sharing insights, laying out arguments, and opening dialogue. And the comments, when utilized, provide one of the best channels for the discussion and cross-pollenation of ideas – something that is hard to achieve in 140, and even 420, characters.

    • Ms. Herr,

      You’re right. We sorta reaping what we’ve sewn. I constantly evangelize the power of Twitter and Facebook to clients. But we also need to remember the power of being involved in a conversation in a variety of places – that includes blogs. By commenting less are we sending the message that blogs are fading and no longer relevant? What then? We’re left with thought leadership being whittled down to 140 characters because twitter is the platform du jour?

  • Chris,

    I think blogs, in some iteration will always be necessary as a place to actually crate and curate content. Twitter is great for soundbites and links, but you can’t delve into the meat of a topic in 140 characters. But for commenting I think you’re right – Twitter is just easier and more comfortable for most. I think using Twitter also makes feedback more public. You never know if a blog has 20 or 20,000 readers that might see your comment. But on Twitter, if you have a large following you increase your chances that your feedback will be seen and isn’t Twitter a bit about ego for most?

  • bluephoenixnyc,

    I’d love to see a way to integrate people comments on Facebook and other platforms integrated back into the comments on a blog. Do you know a plugin that does that? I’m all for people engaging where they feel most comfortable, but it would be great to include those conversations back into the original discussion.

  • Jeff,

    I sort of agree with you. casting that net is huge. Word of mouth and the trusted recommendation is the key to great marketing today. Thanks for the thoughts.

  • Ms. Herr,

    You’re right. We sorta reaping what we’ve sewn. I constantly evangelize the power of Twitter and Facebook to clients. But we also need to remember the power of being involved in a conversation in a variety of places – that includes blogs. By commenting less are we sending the message that blogs are fading and no longer relevant? What then? We’re left with thought leadership being whittled down to 140 characters because twitter is the platform du jour?

  • Christoffer

    Hi Scott
    I like your blog – as I like American cliche ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Just wanted to drop a line

    Regards from a cold Stockholm (Sweden)
    /
    Christoffer

    • Thank you Christoffer. I appreciate you making the journey over from American Cliche. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anyone see the irony in a post about engagement shifting away from blogs having the most comments on the blog?? ๐Ÿ˜€

    • I think the comments were done for that reason. Sort of a way to show that comments on blogs don’t have to be dead. In fact, Chris Green noted specifically that he found this on Twitter but decided to comment.

      In short, irony not lost on me ๐Ÿ™‚

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