When it comes to blogging, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Bolingbrook dentist or the maker of steel rolled rings, you’ve probably wondered the same thing: What can I do to bring in more comments? Getting users to participate in a discussion on your blog is more than just a sign of success; it’s a sign of community—the very thing that drives return visits, increased traffic, customer loyalty and a continually expanding sense of your brand. So what can you do?
For many small to mid-sized businesses, the answer they end up turning to is a third-party comment manager—one of those comment platforms such as Disqus, LiveFyre or IntenseDebate that replaces a site’s standard commenting software with one offering more interaction and a greater sense of community. The only question is: Do third-party comment managers really work?
When a reader comes to your site and has to log in to leave a comment, for instance, does that establish credibility, or is it a turnoff? Will a comment manager help encourage interaction, or will it just make it harder for readers to engage? How can you know when you should implement a commenting platform or just leave well enough alone?
Below, let’s consider some of the pros and cons of comment management systems:
To Log In: Some of the Big Benefits of Comment Managers
Using a third-party comment manager can offer several benefits that the built-in comment blog software does not, from easy sharing on social networks to effective spam protection.
(+) Connection with Other Social Networks
In a nutshell, here’s the best thing about third-party comment managers: they usually make it super easy to connect with major social networks like Facebook or Twitter through automatic integration. What this means is that when a reader leaves a comment at your blog, he or she can easily share that comment and your post with their full scope of connections—expanding your Web presence and bringing new people to your site.
(+) Single Sign-In & Profile for Readers
Not only are comment managers good at making it easy for readers to share information, but also they require only one log in across networks. In other words, once a user logs in to a third-party comment manager, he or she stays logged in across websites, so it’s easy to post from a Facebook or Twitter login to your site. Plus, all comments left through that manager are tracked in one place—so it’s easy to see one individual’s comments all over the Web.
(+) Effective Spam Filtering
Most bloggers would rather put their time into building content or interacting with readers instead of dealing with spam. This is where a third-party comment manager can be so helpful. Because comment platforms will require users to log into their established social profiles, they help eliminate spam from bots.
Not to Log In: Some of the Downsides of Comment Managers
Despite their potential benefits, comment managers can actually end up doing more harm than good—turning off readers, slowing down pages and subjecting your site to the instability of a comment management system’s server.
(-) Can Turn off Readers
Leaving a comment through a third-party platform not only requires an extra step to log in, but it also can be kind of confusing, especially to first-time commenters—and this may be enough to turn some of them away. While some readers may like using their profile to leave blog comments, others won’t want to set up a profile just to respond. According to a poll at Peter Pelliccia’s site Wassup, for example, as many as 48% of Web users have refrained from commenting on a site because it was a Disqus blog.
(-) Slows Down Page Loads
You don’t have to read blogs very long to notice this: longer load times are annoying. One big problem with third-party comment platforms is that they often slow down page load times, giving your readers longer wait times to see your content. And in many cases, those longer wait times will be enough to send readers away to another site.
(-) Takes Away Some of Your Control
When you rely on a third-party comment management system, you are at the mercy of that platform when it has an outage. If that provider has a system crash, all of your comments are out, too. This is not only frustrating to you as you try to manage your site but also obviously very frustrating to readers who are ready to comment and find they can’t.
So what do you think? When you go to a site and have to use a third-party system to comment, does it bother you? Or do you like the integration with your other profiles?
Do you utilize a comment manager on your blog? What have you found?