1. Define your goals based on what you want the increased comments to accomplish.
Example goals include: Spread social engagement and reach. Increase brand awareness on social media. Gain audience insights. Collect insights and feedback on a product, service, or offer. Get content ideas from your audience.
2. Create a piece of content that is thought-provoking, original, appeals to your target audience, and elicits discussion.
Curiosity inducing, well crafted, and potentially controversial or opinionated content helps organically encourage commenting. Examples include: An instructional piece, like a recipe for cashew cream, that has a comment section full of appreciation and questions about different methodologies, substitutions, and clarifications. A social media image post with a game element, like M&M’s eye-spy game, that leads to discussion and hints in the comments. An opinion piece with a shocking headline, like Why Your Content Strategy Won’t Work, that immediately makes people want to express their contrarian opinion.
3. Conclude your content with a relevant and thought-provoking question or prompt, with a request to comment their answer.
Avoid irrelevant prompts, like What is your favorite color?, to maintain your audience’s trust. Use these examples as inspiration: Rand from Moz ends his YouTube video with a verbal call to action to leave your SEO strategy plans, questions, or recommendations in the comment section below, and that he is looking forward to reading and replying to comments all weekend. Makeup brand, Anastasia Beverly Hills, starts its Instagram caption with the question Do YOU dot OR swipe concealer onto your skin while applying? to start a fun debate in the comments. HubSpot’s 9-tip listicle blog post ends with a call to action to comment a 10th tip in the comments down below.
4. Set up automated comment moderation with predetermined guidelines to remove spam and abusive comments.
A comment section that doesn’t feel welcoming, productive, or reflective of your brand’s values can alienate your readers, but an over moderated comment section can create brand distrust and feel like censorship. Clearly explain the rules for your comment section so that commenters are on the same page, like Asana’s friendly message above the comment section that explains their policy and rules, which are to be respectful, stay on topic, and no spam, please. Set moderation guidelines for your content with your team beforehand, like rules for what profanity is allowed and your process when manual review is needed. Use an automated moderation tool like Disqus, Facebook Comments, or Livefyre to remove spam and abusive comments, while still allowing different opinions and perspectives.
5. Add a comment section under your blog posts with limited barriers to comment, like removing a login process.
Consider removing access barriers, like account sign up, complex login requirements, or CAPTCHA, to make commenting easier, as long as you use an automated moderation system, like Disqus. However, if spam and bots still become a problem, you may have to reinstate some access barriers like CAPTCHA. Put the comment text box immediately below the blog post, social icons, or related posts, instead of under the entire comment section.
6. Reply to your comments with an appreciative or useful response.
Depending on what the original comment was, your reply may include an answer to their question, relevant emoji, thank you, follow-up question, additional tip, response from your customer support, or a supportive reaction to their comment, like pinning one great comment to the top of the comment section or liking it. For example, in a CXL blog post, the author replied with a range of responses, from detailed answers about alternative methods to thank-yous and gratitude for the commenter enjoying the article.
7. Incentivize comments through contests, giveaways, or gamification.
For example: Promote weekly or monthly draws where you randomly choose one commenter to receive a gift, coupon, free content, or gift card. Give a prompt for the comments, like comment what you’d do with a free [your product], to avoid meaningless comments. End your YouTube video saying you’ll pin your favorite comment to the top of the comment section. Add badges, titles, or incentives for frequent commenters in your Facebook group or livestreams. Ask Instagram followers to vote on their favorite option in a poll by commenting under their favorite of the few options.
8. Host interactive livestreams to engage with your audience by reading and addressing their comments during the stream.
The livestream format naturally encourages more comments and interactions with your audience, making it a great tool to gain audience insights. Plan, promote, and go live on a platform that fits your target audience, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitch, or a live webinar on Zoom. To encourage livestream comments: Promote your livestream beforehand on Twitter and ask followers to submit their questions in the comments of that tweet. Ask your audience to reply their answer to a specific live question. You can ask them to vote on a topic with yes or no responses or green vs red emojis. Ask for feedback about a certain topic, like what they think of the new launch. Read some comments out loud and respond. Thank people, by name, for showing up to the stream. Ask viewers to comment a certain emoji or #replay if they’re watching on the replay. Use a streaming platform, like Vimeo Livestream, to host a Q&A where viewers can submit questions.
9. Turn an idea or question from a comment into a new piece of content that credits the original commenter.
For example, if on a blog post about how to properly mulch your yard, someone comments a question about how to pick the right kind of mulch, you can turn this comment into a separate blog post. Comment back that that’s a great question and ask permission to use that idea for your next post, with a mention that it was inspired by a commenter.