One of the best things about writing in a public forum is the instant feedback. I can create a blog post that may or may not create a dialogue between me and the reader. I have seen more successful blogs in which the audience just talk amongst themselves. Media outlets have adopted this model that allows their readers to talk about any article. This can be both good and bad.
Most blogging sites will tell you that a great way to build up readership is to connect and be active with your readers. Several ways of doing that is to have questions on your blog and respond to any comments you may receive. Now, I am one who tries to be very engaging when I can, however, I don’t get many comment on my blog posts (and I am ok with that). There’s also a lot to be said about post on other people’s blogs. I believe that if you’re going to post a comment anywhere..then do not to it anonymously. Own up to your comments and people will be willing to read more about you.
I think that engaging folks can be a double edged sword that has to be wielded correctly. While there may be people who may like something I have written, there are people who don’t. Most people tend to not voice their opinion either way, but those who do will have no problem with praise or disapproval. None of these bother me because it is always good to know that for good or bad, they read what was posted. However, there are people who comment for the sake of commenting. They may say things to get s response and those are the people that need to be treated with caution.
It’s one thing to be accosted on Twitter because I can choose to just ignore very easily, but when someone writes a negative response on a blog I have posted then it becomes very hard to ignore. Negativity is not someone disagreeing with me, it is when some crosses a line. That is why I also try make a habit of just responding to everyone that may comment on this blog. However, with the Huffington Post having much more readership, responding to someone can be tricky because some people just want to say something in order to get a response.
So I think the a rule of thumb, for me, is to not be particularly agitated or excited when responding to someone. That is hard for me because I can be a very emotional person that goes on either side of the gauge. Secondly, keeping the length of a response to as short as possible is key. Think about it, if I wrote 700+ words on something, I’m pretty sure you know where I stand on something, so there is reason to go into another blog type of reply. You don’t want to be the person in any comment section that has 3-5 paragraphs because it is not getting read.
I also try not to belittle anyone I’m interacting with, even if they are trying to belittle me. Let’s face it, if anyone come on to my blog and tries to belittle me, I’ll probably come out swinging and make them look like an idiot. However, the more public the forum, the more careful one needs to be. Free Speech allows us to say anything we want and not go to jail for it, however, public opinion can really make anyone wish they just stayed quiet.
The fact of the matter is a small amount of engagement is better than none. I think that generally, in the blogging world, the more active a person is the more successful they are going to be.