A few weeks ago, I spoke at the sixth annual Minnesota Blogger Conference. You can read all about what I talked about here.
Part of my presentation caused a bit of a stir: My prediction that more people (and I would also argue, companies) will remove comments from their corporate blogs in the year ahead.
Yeah–that was a little of the reaction I got at the Blogger Conference.
But, hear me out.
First, the reasons:
Fewer comments may hurt your brand reputation
If your corporate blog is like many, it gets few thoughtful comments. Fact is, most blogs are seeing fewer comments than they’ve seen in the past. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at some of the more popular and well-known corporate blogs, and how they’re faring in the comment department.
The Allstate blog is commonly listed on many “best corporate blog” lists. Taking a breeze through it, I see many posts in its current slider with under TWO comments.
What about the Whole Foods blog? No question that’s usually lauded as one of the better corporate blogs, right? Looking through the last five posts on its home page, I don’t see ONE with a a SINGLE comment.
What about Randy’s Journal from Boeing–one of the longer-running corporate blogs? A quick peek at that blog shows numerous posts with ZERO comments.
So my argument is this: If you have a corporate blog and you’re getting 0-3 comments per post, is that hurting your reputation more than it’s helping?
More “comments” are happening on Facebook and LinkedIn
To be honest, this has been happening for a while. And, there are two big reasons behind this: 1) People are spending WAY more time on Facebook (and, to a lesser extent, LinkedIn) than on corporate blogs; and 2) Companies are using paid advertising to amplify posts on Facebook and LinkedIn that drive customers back to the corporate blog (I would think most people are getting to corporate blogs in two ways–search and paid advertising). So, if the comments are really all occurring on social, and companies are actually using the paid ad products on these platforms to drive people to their blogs, do the comment sections even make sense anymore? Won’t most people prefer to comment on Facebook, where it’s easier and where they’re already spending time (and, they don’t have to “register”, as is often the case, to leave a comment)?
Social behaviors have changed
This ain’t 2011, my friends. The era of the blog comment may be winding down. Not for ALL blogs–mind you. But, by and large, people just don’t comment as much as they used to. They don’t SHARE as much as they used to either. At least, that’s been my observation anecdotally. Let’s take Gini Dietrich’s blog, Spin Sucks, as an example. By all accounts, Gini’s blog is one of THE most popular blogs in all of PR. Heck, it’s probably the MOST popular blog. And, in 2011, that blog was getting a TON of comments. To the tune of 400+ on occasion. See below.
Three years late, Gini’s blog was still seeing a lot of comments. But, the number had ratcheted down a bit.
This year, the numbers seem to be down even more.
Taking a spin on Gini’s blog today, I see the following comment numbers for the last week: 1, 3, 15, 1, 49, 5 and 14. Those might not seem too bad, but for a blog that was routinely seeing comment numbers in the hundreds they’re a big step back.
I don’t say this to take a shot at Gini. I’m a big fan of Gini’s blog, and have been for years. I’m just highlighting what I believe to be a big trend in blogging–the death of the comment.
To be clear, I’m not saying all corporate blogs should remove comments. If I’m wearing my consultant hat, as always, this is a case-by-case basis.
But, from a trend standpoint–with social behaviors changing, the rise of dark social, and far more content options than in the past, it might make sense to look at taking your comment feature off your corporate blog.
There, I said it.
Don’t hurt me.
In case you missed it last week Posterous announced it was closing up shop as of April 30 to “focus 100% of our efforts on Twitter” (the company that bought Posterous last year).
Not a big surprise for those paying attention. After Twitter bought Posterous last year, it seemed there was a decent chance they might shutter Posterous. Sure enough, that day will come on April 30.
It’s too bad really. Posterous was an innovator in many ways. It was one of the first platforms to give you the ability to publish to many platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with just a single click. And, it was also among the first (and only?) blogging platforms that allowed you to publish via a simple email. This was always an under-served path to blogging in my view. As corporations looked to easier ways to blog, it struck me as strange that this really never caught on (although personally, I LOVED it–I think I have more than 10 Posterous blogs I’ve started at one point or another over the years).
But, now that Posterous will be gone for good on April 30, what does this mean (if anything) for the rest of the blogsphere. I think three implications are in play:
Confirms the importance of self-hosting
Sure, Posterous is giving its users the ability to download content and shift to another platform, but if you had bought your own domain, and self-hosted, you wouldn’t be in this position, would you? I think the number-one outcome of Posterous shutting down is that it confirms the sheer importance of self-hosting your blog. If you own your blog, and the domain, you never have to worry about your platform being bought out by a bigger corporate giant. You never have to worry about porting content to a new tool. You can just focus on building the best blog you can. Every day.
Tumblr will only get bigger
For the last few years, the big blog players have been: WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, Typepad (less lately), Squarespace (gaining steam) and Posterous. WordPress.com is far and away the clubhouse leader among this group with Blogger usually close behind and Typepad, Squarespace, Posterous and Tumblr in the rearview mirror. But, with the explosion of Tumblr (77 million blogs as of Oct. 2012 and counting, according to Wikipedia) as a community AND a blogging platform in the last couple years–and now with the demise of Posterous–Tumblr has really solidified itself as the primary #3 blog platform on the market. And, a lot of those folks with Posterous blogs will be switching over to Tumblr in the weeks ahead–just watch.
Apparently blogging by email WAS NOT a need
This one surprised me. I thought this was the most brilliant part of Posterous’ set up out of the gate in 2008–the ability to blog by email. For those who were confused and tormented by the “techniness” of platforms like WordPress, Posterous offered something much more simple. In essence, if you could use email, you could blog. It was literally that easy in the early days. Since then, of course, Posterous has evolved a bit, But that, along with the ability to cross-post across other social networks, was the chief USP for Posterous. And, it really never panned out. You really never saw people talk about how much they really loved that feature. I heard more folks talk about how they loved the simplicity and look of Postersous–but not so much around the posting by email. I really thought that was a need that Posterous filled nicely. And, I was wrong.