Innovation. Ideas. Insight.

A comment on comments

In Ideas, Insight on September 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

Marketing types, and I’ll generously include myself in this group, like to talk about ‘the conversation’ and ‘the dialogue’ between consumers and brands. I try to read a variety of marketing/branding/PR/Advertising blog and have noticed something: Many of the blogs have very few comments. Here’s a very unscientific survey – I looked at the front page of several blogs, looked at the number of posts and the total number of comments:

PSFK: Posts:36, Comments: 57 (Avg. # comments per post: 1.58)

Brand Autopsy: Posts: 30, Comments: 192 (Avg. # comments per post: 6.4)

Influential Marketing Blog: Posts 10, Comments: 36 (Avg. # comments per post: 3.6)

Murketing: Posts 15, Comments: 7 (Avg. # comments per post: .47)

Grant McCracken: Posts 14, Comments 65 (Avg. # comments per post: 4.64)

Eyecube: Posts 10, Comments 7 (Avg. # comments per post: .7)

Online Marketer Blog: Posts 5, Comments 24 (Avg. # comments per post: 4.8)

Again, this is a rather arbitrary analysis. I think all of the above are super smart people who all have a different approach and style.

Let’s take a look at the Top five blogs on the AdAge Power 150 to see what that looks like under the same litmus test:

Seth Godin: N/A, doesn’t host comments on site.

Search Engine Land: Posts: 20, Comments: 8 (Avg. # comments per post: .4)

Copyblogger: Posts: 6, Comments: 241(Avg. # comments per post: 40.17)

Search Engine Watch: N/A

Adrants: Posts: 25, Comments: 34 (Avg. # comments per post: 1.36)

So it seems that having a robust comment system isn’t a particular help nor hindrance.

Now, as a contrast I’m going to take a look at two websites I really enjoy that aren’t directly related to marketing/branding/PR/Advertising:

The Sartorialist: Posts: 40, Comments: 3477 (Avg. # comments per post: 86.92)

Arsenal America: Posts: 10, Comments: 800 (Avg. # comments per post: 80.00)

*Note – I’m the founder of Arsenal America.

Pretty striking difference, huh? Now, obviously this doesn’t take quality of comments into account, but let’s assume all of the above have their fair share of dross as well as intelligent commentary. Is the online marketing community missing something here?

Would a marketing blog consisting only of photos engender more community-based dialogue? 

Would a blog focusing on the marketing of a specific sports team generate robust, passionate discussion?

Are we all so busy blogging ourselves that we don’t have the time to fully engage in online conversation with our peers?

Lots of questions, I’d love to hearing your thoughts, so please leave a comment!

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  1. Interesting post, Rick.

    I think there are two key factors (there may be more) that influence how many comments a blog receives. One is abstract/concrete and the other is the emotional content. Blogs about things generally gets of comments… design, fashion, and food blogs are good examples. Blogs about abstract things, such as law, have a harder time. In this example, law blogs often have few comments, unless they bring out emotions on posts, such as salaries, mistakes, politically charged topics, and the pan-blog comment inducing strategy: an overall snarky tone.

    It’s easy to write a comment for the Satoralist, because most of the comments boil down to thumbs up or down. In the blogosphere, everyone’s an expert. Although marketing blog about ads or products which invoke emotion, marketing blogs are usually about ideas. Commenting upon an idea take more time, more than many blog readers want to invest.

    Sports are high in emotion, and somewhere between the concrete and abstract, but as you have seen in your other blog, people in general have a lot to say about sports. The armchair coach isn’t anything new, they just have an easy way to be published now.

    One interesting counter point are gossip blogs, I was about to say that they are concrete, but on second thought, the celebrities are objectified, and not really treated as actually people. So, again, lots commenting here as well.

    So, depending on the purpose of the blog, and in reference to your questions, you can definitely gear a blog towards commentary.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Ray. I guess my question then is:

    Why don’t marketers write blogs with more emotional impact? Don’t we all tell our clients to make emotional connections with their consumers?

  3. What a great idea! This is very interesting.

    Having read some of the comments on Copyblogger, ChrisBrogan.com, and others, I wonder if a lot of folks aren’t just commenting to get their URL up on a popular site or to try to get noticed by an A-lister.

    After all, this is a study of how *many* comments, not how in-depth or engaged they are. The comments I’ve noticed here and murketing seem much more substantive, yet the percentage per post was smaller.

    I need to think more about this…thanks for starting the conversation! ;)

  4. DJ, I think that’s right. A comment on certain blogs does have more link juice. But I also think that there are certain kinds of posts that don’t get comments;

    One is a post on something else. Ie, over at thisblog.com, they are talking about this. This is my opinion. That’s a comment wrapped up in a blog post.

    Still, I think that when writing a blog post, one should consider the goal of that post. If the ‘goal’ is to get comments, then one should write it to achieve the goal. If the goal of the post is to get people to look at your about page, then it would be a more formed thought.

    Goals. On every blog post. Seems anal, but it’s also marketing.

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