Blogs have been a way to broadcast thoughts and opinions and its theorized that allowing comments will create a conversation about the post. The issue with that is if you have more than a few comments people may not take the time to read them all. And for the power bloggers, then there can be 100+ comments for each post, so you can imagine how many really get read. Once you get to this point people’s comments are based mostly on the original post, not engaging with other comments.
You also have the problem of once a commenter posts, they’ll rarely come back. I know I never click the ’email me post updates’ button, because I don’t want to be hit with 16 emails of comments saying ‘Great post, now buy my stuff’. So if a comment is then commented on, it basically stops there. Threaded commenting helps this, allowing the viewer to direct their comments to another comment, but the lack of returning commenters can halt that conversation there.
So what can you do to promote the valuable conversations? Create conversations on another platform that was made for short conversations: Twitter (or similar).
I really think that this is the next step in blogging: engaging people on a certain topic based on a blog, but held on Twitter(or some other real-time network).
There are a few ways to do this now, but none are perfect in my opinion. The question is how would people follow the conversation once its put on Twitter?
Here are a couple ways to currently Tweet your comments:
“Tweet This Comment” – a wordpress plugin that asks the commenter if they want to, as the name suggests, Tweet the comment. It then asks them to log into Twitter and posts the comment with a link to the original. This works well for what it does, but doesn’t help if they comment more than 140 characters (minus the link as well). This does however give the commenter’s followers bait to click the link to see what the person is saying, which will drive traffic to the blog.
There is also a way to add a ‘Tweet This’ to the comment area without a plugin. You just edit the code as a post from John Chow states.
There are downfalls to using Twitter as a conversation platform, mostly the character limit. Its hard to give full opinions in just so many characters. But this does force to-the-point writing which people can read easily and fast as compared to full paragraph answers.
Maybe distinct hashtags are the answer if an above method is used. Then the Twitter user can follow hashtag #5jf8dkd to keep in the conversation if the blog topic is of interest. When Tweetdeck or Hootsuite come up with a way to show content in their hashtag columns, such a link to the blog post for hash #5jf8dkd or even the intro paragraph, they’d be on to something.
As I said, I can see no perfect method so far. The ideas are out there, but there are limitations. Real-time web has to somehow mesh with blogs to promote conversations.
What do you think? Have you seen a method put into use that builds the conversations?