No Blog Comments & Connecting with Readers

If a blog post doesn’t receive any comments, does that mean you struck out?

Actually, it’s quite common for blog posts not to receive comments. In the legal industry, and especially with lawyer blogs, we see it all the time.  The truth is the majority of online readers are lurkers. It’s called the 90-9-1 Rule, where 90% of your readers won’t respond in any way, 9% will contribute and participate once in a while, and 1% will do the vast majority of digital interaction.

This can be a difficult phenomenon to explain, but it hardly means that you haven’t connected with your intended audience.  Remember: the more focused the subject, the smaller the target audience. Apply the  90-9-1 rule to most lawyer blog audiences, and it’s a recipe for a comment-free wasteland.  I also think it’s quite unfair to compare a lawyer’s blog comment numbers to the more news-y blogs out there. You can’t compare a lawyer’s substantive commentary to ATL or ABA Journal.

Two important points:

  1. Some blog posts just don’t warrant a comment — case in point, see my last post on the sudden abundance of twitter experts our there. It’s received zero comments, but 41 retweets and 1500+ visitors. The post was a fun lark, but clearly not worth commenting on.  That doesn’t mean it didn’t strike a chord or find an audience.
  2. There’s always a chance for commentary to connect with readers in the future — Another example: back in 2006 I wrote the Top 10 Uses of RSS in Law Firms.   Three weeks passed and it might have had 30 readers. It subsequently got picked up by Dave Winer, and took on a life of its own.  To this day, that post drives more visitors to my personal blog than anything I’ve written there since. … Side comment: This story is also one of the reasons I still believe in search marketing and the power of positioning content in front of audiences. Blog commentary & search exposure combined continue to have a long-term impact on my own content marketing.

Bottom line: Are comments nice?  Of course they are, but you have to see the big picture.  As most experienced bloggers will tell you, comments are only one form of feedback. Don’t forget to also watch:  site traffic (both post specific, and general trends),  social media mentions, email feedback, mentions on other blogs, and general increases in your profile (eg. offers for speaking engagements) & your personal network (eg. more industry-based friends & contacts).  You need to consider all the available metrics as a group.  Micro-measuring comment counts (or even counting interactions post-by-post…) isn’t going to cut it in face of the 90-9-1 rule.

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