In the previous post we said how contests are a great way of encouraging interaction from your readers and gave a few samples. In this post I want to cover the basics, so to speak, of getting your readers to put fingers to keys.
Make it easy
Don’t make your readers jump through hoops to leave a comment as they probably won’t. Make it as simple as possible and clear, i.e. no mandatory registration and to a lesser extent captchas.
Make it really really easy
Typing a comment takes a bit of work, voting in a poll or rating a post takes a click of a mouse. This is a first step to getting a reader to interact, it takes them zero effort and maybe next time they vote in a poll they’ll leave a comment about the reasoning.
Ask the question
This is probably the most effective way to get comments, simply ask the question. If your post finishes with a relevant question, there is a fair chance that some people will respond. One of the best examples I’ve seen on this was when one of my writers on CG asked for advice on which tablet PC to buy, some of the comments the post received were longer (and better written ) than the original post. The saying “If you don’t ask, you don’t get” seems particularly true in this case.
Reward your readers
If you can offer something back to your readers for participating then all the better. Top commenter tables are becoming pretty popular on blogs, they give your most interactive readers recognition and if you have a webmaster savvy readership it can also be used to provide a nice traffic generating and SEF (search engine friendly) link.
Another way to reward web savvy readers is to remove the nofollow tag from comments (which the majority of blogging platforms adds by default nowadays). This would give your readers the benefits of SEF links in the comments that they leave but you’d have to weigh up the pros and cons to potentially having a lot of unrelated outbound links on your pages.
We’ve decided on SMM to go with one of the options previously mentioned (look to the right) as it’s only fair to reward effort (congrats and thanks to Gadget Venue, Online Opportunity and Community Building Blog for taking the top spots so far) . If you have any other suggestions or ideas on how encourage interaction and make your site a bit more sticky, then please leave a comment .