My good friend Chris Brogan is the latest in a series of bloggers who are turning off comments. That’s a personal preference, and I respect that choice.
Here are three reasons why comments are staying on any property that I have responsibility for, as a sort of counter-perspective.
1. Rent vs. own: Chris makes the valid point that many conversations are happening on social networks. That’s unquestionably true. However, as I’ve said for years, you own nothing in social media. All those conversations that people are having about your content aren’t yours, and if Facebook goes the way of MySpace or Twitter goes the way of Friendster, all those conversations go away. If you intend to do things like mine your conversations and comments for insights, owning the data makes that much more convenient. This blog has survived the rise and fall of MySpace, LiveJournal, Xanga, etc. and the rich comment history remains – data I can use for future research.
2. Comment spam is controllable. On here I use Disqus. At work I use Livefyre. Both are excellent at controlling outright spammers and self-promoters. The catch is, it does take up a couple of minutes a day to moderate them and respond, but that’s a small price to pay for their excellent services.
3. Comments feed your database. Take a quick look:
In comments, you get digital identity information like name and email address. Now, let’s be clear: you can’t just subscribe every commenter to your newsletter. That’s bad, and in some places, illegal. But you do have that database, and you can use in other ways. Export all of the email addresses from your blog comments and now you have a custom audience you can show social media advertisements to – and you KNOW it’s on target because they commented on your blog.
Can you take your Facebook conversations and show them Twitter ads, or vice versa? Nope. Email is at the heart of social advertising, and if you’ve got something like a keynote talk, a book launch, a product launch, or any kind of big announcement, you want the email addresses of your best fans – your commenters – to be able to reach them with digital advertising tools. You can’t reach your fans on one platform from another platform in social media.
Before you go “No more comments!” – a perfectly valid choice and strategy – understand what you might be giving up.
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