What Desperate Housewives Can Teach You About Blog Comments

7 Ways to Nurture Your Comment Garden

Every blogger wants their comment garden to grow and attract new visitors to their blog. “How do I get people to comment on my blog posts?” is often a burning question new bloggers have. It was a hot topic on last Sunday’s open mike session on #BlogChat. The housewives of television’s Wisteria Lane can give you some pointers on regarding how to nurture more blog comments.

Just as it takes time to meet your neighbors and understand their foibles, you have to be part of the social media conversation to get blog readers. People weren’t waiting for your blog to start the discussion. Rather, you need to interact and participate in the social media neighborhood before people will just drop by your blog.

Bloggers like Lisa Petrilli, whose first two blog posts garnered over 160 comments, make it look easy. Look deeper and you’ll see that these comments are meaty, about half of them are Lisa’s responses, and include a lot of her online friends, like Mack Collier with followers of their own.  (For more information, here’s Lisa’s analysis of her blog launch.) Realize that Lisa’s results are exceptional especially since there’s a trend towards social sharing in lieu of commenting.

To help get comments on your blog, take a few lessons from the desperate housewives of Wisteria Lane. Understand that building a following of readers willing to participate in the conversation takes time.

  1. Bake cookies to draw neighbors in. Take your cue from Bree who always has something in the oven. The aroma is so enticing that neighbors always want a taste. Do the same for your blog. Write interesting, useful content that people in your niche want. If you’re at a loss for words, here are some tips to overcome “Blank-Blog-Post-Syndrome”.
  2. Drop in on your neighbors. Bree, Lynnette, Susan and Gaby always check in on each other.  In the blogosphere, this translates to reading the hot blogs in your subject area. Like Bree’s baked goods, leave something special in the form of meaty comments that make the blogger want to find out more about you. (Remember the housewives of Wisteria Lane always want to know what’s happening at their friends’ homes.)
  3. Make your comments worth listening to. Just as the housewives craft their gossip to have the biggest impact, leave enticing hooks in your responses to other bloggers’ posts in their comment section. “Great post” doesn’t cut it. Think about what you’re saying and putting some effort into it. Remember you want bloggers and readers to check you out back at your blog. Give them a reason to stop by your blog!
  4. Beware of TIM. While it’s great to visit and chat with your friends, don’t over share. In blogging terms, this translates to not just talking about yourself. No one wants to be friends with someone who only says “ME, ME, ME.” When commenting on other blogs, don’t fill your comments with links to your blog. In many cases, this won’t help since major bloggers and media sites use metatags that prevent these links from affecting search results. Your content should be alluring by itself.
  5. Drop hints. Instead of asking directly, the housewives will make suggestions that peaks their friends’ interest and get them to act. You can do this on your blog by including a question at the end that kicks off a discussion in the comment section.
  6. Spread gossip. Just like the women of Wisteria Lane can’t wait to dish on their neighbors, help your readers to tell their colleagues and followers about what’s worth viewing by adding social sharing tools. Make it easy for them to look good.
  7. Follow the leader. Just as the women of Wisteria Lane are always trying to make their version of a special dish, state your perspective in your blog post. When you do, mind your manners. Reference the blog post that inspired you and don’t rehash the same ideas. Rather, spice your post with your special insights and add to the conversation.

Just as the Desperate Housewives have taken time to get to know each other and build their relationships, it takes time and hard work to grow the comment section on your blog. It’s important to recognize that, with social sharing on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, many readers may prefer to highlight your content for their followers rather than to comment on your blog since it gives them social currency.

If you have any other suggestions, please add them in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Tip of my hat to Chris Brogan for his insights on this subject, to Mack Collier for hosting #BlogChat as a forum to help bloggers, and to Marjorie Clayman for her recent blog post that inspired me to help newer bloggers. Thank you all.

Here are some other posts on the topic of building your blog:

Photo credit: Lauren Keith via Flickr

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  • http://www.thewritedesignco.com Marcie

    Great analogy and very much needed post. I have a community blog that has absolutely no comments. I’ll be using these tips to get them going.

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Marcie–Thank you for stopping by. Remember that in today’s social media world, readers may prefer to share links to Twitter, Facebook and other social networks as a form of social currency. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://therfactorartdesign.com Roberto Rivera

    Thank you Heidi for this insightful and helpful blog, another gem amongst the others that you have written, all of which have been quite rich with usable content! ;>)

    I have recently begun a blog and find that it feels much like sending notes in a bottle from the seashore…that is not good or bad just that one knows that there must, of course, be a beginning point from which we can start. So patience and planting seeds are great thoughts!

    Actually based on your insight from your blog ideas, I have begun to follow a small group of very interesting and creative people and find it rewarding to hear what they and others are thinking and voicing at this time.

    To quote the late Jacky Gleason, “How swwweet it is!”

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Roberto–I’m happy that you’re finding this blog useful since that’s one of my goals. Further, thank you for expressing your feelings about how blogging can feel very isolated in the beginning. A lot of bloggers feel this way since it can take time and effort to get traction for your blog and other social media efforts. Having a supportive group of like-minded individuals can be very helpful, especially when you’re first starting out. Stay tuned I will be sharing my thoughts on this topic later this week. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.margieclayman.com Marjorie Clayman @margieclayman

    Great approach, Heidi! I love the baking cookies image especially :)

    Thanks for your kind shout-out as well.

    This is the kind of blog post I most like to see from smart people like you!

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Marjorie–Thank you for being a positive force in the social dialogue! There are important lessons all around us in the real world for how we should act online and in social media forums in particular. As in life, it always helps to bring something special like homemade cookies. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.LisaPetrilli.com Lisa Petrilli


    I really appreciate you mentioning my launch and linking to that article I wrote about all the efforts over a period of months that went into it. It’s definitely not easy right out of the gate, and one reason I became friends with Mack is I spent a good 8-9 months attending weekly #blogchat sessions – doing a lot of lurking at first – to have the confidence needed to take that next step and launch my blog.

    I appreciate your kind words about my comments as well. Honestly though, it’s because my commenters give such great thought to what they write that I have so much meat to respond to !

    All the very best,

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Lisa-Thank you for adding some more insight regarding your blog launch. It’s helpful for new bloggers to know that there’s a lot of work in terms of learning about the social media landscape, testing the social media waters, finding your niche, and making the many small decisions that go into launching a blog. Further launching a blog or other social media presence requires building relationships and paying it forward. This gives new bloggers a support system to help them navigate the early days of blogging which can feel like you’re talking to yourself.

      One important gem that new bloggers should check out on your blog is your piece about what you learned about networking when you asked a stranger for a kidney. It’s incredibly powerful writing and shows how to be open without over-sharing or being trite.

      Please keep adding to the conversation. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://BruceSallan.com Bruce Sallan

    Well, first let’s talk about me. Then, I’ll leave you all my links. Then, maybe I’ll even read your post. Ohhh, that’s NOT what we’re supposed to do, huh, Heidi? If there’s ONE thing I’ve learned from #BlogChat and the #140Conf is that giving back and good content is key. I forget the ratio but I know for every tweet about yourself you should do multiples about others. The same applies to RT’s but I’ve now learned to RT with a word of praise about what I’ve RT’d.

    As for this blog of yours, I don’t watch much TV but I totally get the clever analogy you’ve done and really appreciate it. I’m also realizing more and more that comments may becoming less important than just plain traffic to our sites. I think, for me, comments feed my ego while traffic feeds the bottom line and potential income. But, I’m not sure about that?

    Ultimately, I believe, as it seems it comes back to every Sunday night on blogchat, that it’s ALL ABOUT good content.

    This was very helpful Heidi and I’m seriously grateful you sent it to me!

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Bruce–Thank you for the insightful response. You’ve hit the nail on the head. At it’s core, social media is about helping the community. While comments like yours go a long way to helping enhance the conversation, more and more people are using forms of social sharing, most notably Twitter, in lieu of comments. In my opinion, this trend is attributable to the fact that social sharing is easier since readers only have to click on a share button rather than thinking of what to write beyond “Great post”. Further, to put another spin on what you initially wrote, enough about me, what do you think of the information I’m curating. When looking at comments, it’s important to remember that commenting requires that the reader be confident in his opinions and in his ability to convey them in writing. That said, a comment like yours is worth 100 retweets because it adds to the public discourse and everyone benefits. Hope to see you on #BlogChat! Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.twitter.com/ArtseyC Amy Canada

    First, thanks for your kindness to me and your generosity in helping many people in chats and elsewhere on the social scene. May your efforts in support of others come back to you sevenfold.

    As for this post, I’m not so familiar with the characters, but the advice is solid and the links are more very helpful information. Like Lisa, I’ve learned incredible amounts from #blogchat this year, and I can also relate to the hard work in the lead up to a blog launch. This post will be helpful for anyone starting a new blog, revamping their current blog, or taking it to the next level.

    Continued success and joy to you,

    • http://riversidemarketingstrategies.com/ Heidi Cohen

      Amy–Thank you for stopping by my blog. Chats are a great way to reach out and share one’s knowledge. It’s even better when participants like you stop by and read my blog. On chats, it’s sometimes difficult to give all of the relevant information in 140 characters.

      While you might not be familiar with the television show, just think of it as a group of neighbors who are friends and pop into each other’s homes.

      If you’re starting a blog, please check out some of the other related columns. If there’s any topic that you think should be covered, please let me know.

      Happy marketing,
      Heidi Cohen

  • http://www.DonnaWilsonsWorld.com Donna Wilson

    Thanks for this refreshing & informative blog post, Heidi! Love the “Desperate Housewives” analogy & theme! Very good points. I’m still learning as a newbie blogger, & posts like yours are so helpful & inspiring! Much appreciation!

  • http://itsnotanart.blogspot.com Tarisai

    Just came across this I have recently started a blog and have been thinking of new ways to attract more viewers to it. This has proved truly helpful especially now when there are so many ways to get the word out but at the same time trying not to drown yourlself.

    Just about to go through your other posts so I’m sure you will be seeing more of my comments!

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