What Tools Can We Use To Build Community and Stimulate Conversation?

As promised here is the link to Content isn’t Always Consumed Immediately.

I address several questions/ideas in the audio above and will likely turn this audio post into several written posts. For those of who don’t listen to any or just catch a part of it we talk about several things:

  1. What can we do to stimulate conversation/comments on our blogs?
  2. Is there is a benefit to sticky posts?
  3. The influence of community on a blog.

To be fair I skim through some of those topics and don’t cover them in depth, but that is not what this post is/was about. This is more of a “let’s think out loud and see who joins in” kind of post.

It is also about 30 minutes before candle lighting and since we are in the midst of Chanukah I won’t ask my kids to wait for me to finish a blog post. Dinner and celebration come first, blogging later.

BTW, if you are new here I always encourage you to check out some of the posts on the Who Is Jack page and to look at some of these:

And tomorrow you may hear the tale of my fight with a beloved mythical character.

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  1. Bryan December 11, 2012 at 5:44 am

    If your purpose is to create a forum or community, you will defeat the purpose of writing or blogging what you want or know. What is our real purpose? To attract visitors, we can do two things. Sensationalize and give them what they want. But, if we want a change in the community, give them what they need.

    • Jack December 11, 2012 at 11:54 pm

      Hi Bryan,

      We disagree. A blog without community is a duller place with few sparkles and not nearly the kind of energy it could have.

      Your community serves multiple roles and provides support and blog fodder which are both very important.

  2. Betsy Cross December 11, 2012 at 1:39 am

    I don’t think there’s a problem with conversation, commenting, or community-building. The problem lies in the melding of two worlds where some people are all in and others can’t be or don’t want to be. That goes for writers and readers alike. The real question is what do you want and what do you need to do to get it. And if you can’t control the results then either change the goal or let it go.

    The online world is very easy to read; when you engage the wheel starts turning. Disengage and you stall. When I engage on Twitter or other blogs, the reading and commenting go up and when I don’t they go down.

    I ask myself whether I want to build a community where relationships or conversations grow? Or do I even want to build anything? Am I here just for some mental stimulation?

    Sometimes I feel like my blog(s) is a reflection of my home. The more people get to know me the more they will want to come by to visit, sit down, and spend some time. I know who comes by often and is part of the tight group of people who like to talk. But then there are those who peek through the windows and enjoy the fun vicariously.

    If I carry that analogy to someone else’s blog, I can be enticed to come visit but I won’t return if there isn’t some effort made by someone to acknowledge me. I could read Wikipedia if all I want is information… Replying to comments within a day is vital. Asking a question about my comment furthers the conversation. Visiting my blog and commenting builds relationship. It all takes time and effort. Nothing created can replace those things.

    Sorry to go on…There’s one blog I found recently that is so inspiring and the author would be someone I would like to get to know. She might even have built a community already. I subscribed to her blog, but I never read her posts because to comment you have to register every time. That’s a huge roadblock for me. It screams, “I’m filtering guests.”

    Got me thinking and pondering, Jack. Good questions!

    • Jack December 11, 2012 at 11:59 pm

      Hi Betsy,

      You are always welcome to leave longer comments. I know you think about what you are saying and I appreciate the thoughtful replies.

      You touched upon one of my big concerns and that is the length of time it takes to respond to comments. Lately I have been really slow and it bothers me because it doesn’t help foster community or communication the way I want it to.

      But for the moment this is how my life is and I am forced to make some hard choices about where to spend time.

      I understand what you are saying about registration because I don’t like it either. There are better ways to sort through the spam than to present an additional hurdle.

  3. Danny Brown December 10, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    It’s interesting. Back in the day, blogging was the sole domain of conversation. Now, you have Twitter, Facebook, G+, LinkedIn Groups, etc, that extend it elsewhere, but leave nothing in the comments section.

    I used to fret about comment count and if I didn’t have a certain amount on the blog, then I was concerned. Then I realized, as long as I put all I had out there every time, then I didn’t really care where the conversation was happening – I could always partake anyway – I just wanted to conversation to happen.

    Of course, if someone was to invent the motherload of comment systems that dragged all these disparate areas into one cohesive mix… 😉

    • Craig McBreen December 10, 2012 at 7:29 pm

      “Of course, if someone was to invent the motherload of comment systems that dragged all these disparate areas into one cohesive mix… ”
      –That, Sir would be a beautiful thing and someone would be very, very rich 😉

      • Danny Brown December 10, 2012 at 8:04 pm

        Indeed. 🙂

        I guess the problem is, would the big networks want to allow it? Facebook already has their own comments system, Google are working on theirs, Livefyre and Disqus probably won’t end up in bed anytime sson, and IntenseDebate has one helluva ugly UI.

        In other words, I’m not going to hold my breath… 😉

      • Jack December 11, 2012 at 12:40 am

        Hi Craig,

        I hear opportunity knocking. Now all we need to do is find a couple of bucks to hire the crack team we need to build it. 😉

      • Abdallah December 11, 2012 at 8:55 am

        I use routinely use comments to discover and get engaged in interesting conversations. I agree that the commenting landscape is very fragmented with Google+, Twitter, Disqus, Facebook and many more. One tool that is both focused on conversations and on bringing all these networks together is Engagio (http://engag.io). I am a bit biased but it has become one of my indispensable tools for managing conversations and discovering and building relationships with others on the social web. If you do try it, then let me know and I will follow you on Engagio.

        • Jack December 11, 2012 at 11:20 am

          Hi Abdallah,

          So you are one of the community evangelists for Engag.io. It sounds intriguing. How long have you been around for?

          • Abdallah December 11, 2012 at 11:27 am

            Engagio just had its one year anniversary last week (here is a link to the blog about it http://blog.engag.io/2012/12/07/one-year-ago-engagio-was-born/). I personally have been using it since last February and it changed how I spend my time on the social web and eventually led to a job with Engagio late last summer. We just launched a major update on November 28th and are focusing on making comments and conversations serve as primary filters for discovering interesting content and sites. Let me know if you do sign up and I will connect with you via Engagio!

    • Jack December 11, 2012 at 12:39 am

      Hi Danny,

      Yeah, the conversation is harder to “contain” in one area. I blame RSS for part of that. When people don’t have to visit a blog to read the content it makes it more challenging to get readers to comment.

      Of course comments aren’t currency and not every comment is of equal value so there it is not as simple as saying that X number of comments would fix everything.

      But I think about this often because if the goal is to build community there needs to be a discussion so that people “hear” more than the author’s voice. It is how we learn from each other.

      It would be interesting to see that “mother of a comment” system come into being. Would be curious to see how they would make it work. Maybe one day.

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