Comments. As bloggers we live and die by them. Nothing and I mean nothing is more aggravating than putting both the research and time in on creating a post which then dies a death of non-exposure. Let's face it, you can hit some high numbers for your blog but if you don't have interaction, well just like the song says, it don't mean a thing if you ain't got that swing.
So what's a blogger to do?
One of the most effective ways to get comments is to ask a question. The thing though is that there is an art to question asking. An art that many, many people don't understand.
In my days as an Instructional Designer, I actually took a Graduate level course on how to write effective test questions. Test writing is a boring, boring task that we all hated. It all came down to non-biased, vanilla wording that did not create emotion.
In other words, the exact opposite of how you need to ask questions on a blog.
If you ask a question too steeped in academics (read SAT worthy) - Why do you think Ireland proposed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons? - you run the risk of getting readers who are still suffering from Post Traumatic High School test taking who will quickly close down their browser forever leaving your blog before the pain becomes too intense. That question is simply too dangerous, what if you get the answer wrong?
But if you ask a question by confiding in your reader, by presenting a scenario with a twist of humor, you put your reader at ease and as well all know, a comfortable reader is likely to become a comment contributor.
“What is your favorite summer book read?” Might not get you too many comments but if you rephrase that into “What summer read has so grabbed your imagination that your iced-tea ice cubes melted before you could even come up for air?” You've just sparked imagination and gotten attention. Chances are you are going to get a few comments on that one. You need to ask a question that gives people hope of having their opinions heard.
When asking a question designed to get comments, you have to create emotion, use friendly (if not downright buddy-like) language, and you need to allow your readers to use imagination, to tell us what they think and feel. Your readers need to be put in a position of thinking, hmm, well I would....
Make your readers imagine.
“How would the story be different if it began “It was the worst of times, it was the best oftimes?"
“When you were a child, what's the one warm and fuzzy thing you remember about the Fourth of July Holiday?”
“What makes a blog something that you would come to again and again?”
If it's comments you are after, next time you write a post, throw away your Instructional Design texts and instead write a question worthy of being asked of your buddies over a glass of wine.
So what effective questions have you used to gather those elusive comments?
About the Author:
Wendy E.N. Thomas is a freelance writer and Instructional Design Consultant for High-Tech Businesses. She is located in New Hampshire, U.S and has over 25 years experience in the High-tech field as a Technical Writer/Instructional Designer.
A features writer, interviewer, and columnist, Wendy has been published in national magazines, newspapers, e-zines, and blogs.
Her current project is to blog about life living with 6 kids and a flock of chickens.