There is no denying that students get a lot more out of blogging when they receive comments. Comments provide feedback, encouragement, advice, positive reinforcement, learning, conversation and new ways of thinking among other things.
2012 is the fifth year I have been blogging with my class and I have learnt that there are some tips for attracting comments to your blog.
For the first year or two of blogging we received very few comments. When I look back, I can hardly believe that I was motivated to keep going when so many posts were not commented on. Now every post on our class blog receives anywhere between 30 and 80 comments. I am glad I kept going!
Jakob Nielson wrote an interesting article about participation in online communities. While the article is now five years old, I think the key message holds truth today. To summarise, “In most online communities, 90% of users are lurkers who never contribute, 9% of users contribute a little, and 1% of users account for almost all the action.”
While I have found this to be true, I would suggest that the education community (students, parents and teachers) can be influenced a little more than the general online community. We have a vested interest in supporting children!
12 tips for attracting more comments on your class or student blogs
- Be part of the blogging community: To put it simply, you can’t expect people to comment on your blog if you don’t ever comment on theirs. There is an active community in the educational blogosphere and you will reap the rewards if you get involved in it.
- Finish your post with questions: Take some of the guesswork out of commenting and give readers some suggestions on what they could comment on. This is something that I have found works very well with my class blog. Make sure you include open-ended questions that appeal to a wide audience.
- Don’t write all the answers: I may be a little guilty of this with this post but if you write an open-ended/incomplete post then people feel like they have something to contribute and will be more likely to comment. I find that if everything has already been said in a post and I feel like I don’t really have much to add, I would be less likely to comment.
- Educate readers on how to comment: Don’t assume that all teachers/parents/students know how to leave a comment. I provide parent handouts and a video on how to comment. You might choose to have a “how to comment” page on your class blog like I have.
- Reply to comments: I believe that it is basic blogging etiquette to reply to all/most comments. Acknowledge your readers’ comments, interact with them and they will be encouraged to comment again.
- Be original and diverse: I encourage my students to post about not only what appeals to them but what they think might appeal to their audience. I think this is important in the development of their writing skills and of course is a good way to attract comments. Including a diverse range of posts allows you to offer something to suit everyone.
- Publish in a timely manner: People won’t be very interested in commenting on an event that happened three weeks ago. We try to publish a post as soon as possible after a class event on the 4KM and 4KJ blog. Students and families are more likely to comment when their enthusiasm about an event is high.
- Publicly read and praise comments: We start each school day with 20 minutes of whole-class blogging. This provides a chance for students to read out the comments they have left at home and school in the past 24 hours. We have found that there was a big increase in comments when we started doing this. Students respond well to praise and are eager to get their five minutes of fame.
- Hold a commenting event: We have held a few special class events to stir up some new enthusiasm for commenting with great success. Some of these events included the Family Blogging Afternoon and Family Blogging Month competition.
- Invite people to comment: Every fortnight I send out an e-newsletter to parents. I often ask them to comment on a particular post. When people are directly asked, they are sometimes more likely to commit to doing something.
- Inform people of new posts: You need to make it easy for people to know when you have a new post. If they don’t know about your posts, they’re not going to comment. Set up an email subscription and RSS feed, and consider using Twitter to publicise posts.
- Have a pattern to publishing: Readers get to know whether you have a blog that is updated a few times a week, a few times a month or less regularly. Personally, I’m more likely to comment on blogs with a regular pattern of posting – even if it is only updated semi-frequently. Blogs that are updated very rarely or sporadically are easy to forget about.
Remember, it takes work and ongoing effort to attract comments on your blog, however once you build up the momentum the effort decreases and the rewards increase!