Listen to your community
You’ll increase the chances of readers returning to your site if you take the time to understand what they want.
Comments can help you learn from your readers. They’re leaving a comment for a reason: whether because they want the attention of moderators of the site, like to debate, have alternative or controversial opinions or experiences, or simply want to be part of a community. Responding individually to readers lets them know that their thoughts matter and that they shouldn’t hesitate to reply back.
The way you reply can spark even more comments. You can ask questions, encouraging readers to share more by paraphrasing their comments, and you can also ask your readers to weigh in after every article or use surveys and polls to get additional engagement from them.
Start with your top-level comments since they’re typically a response to the story or its author. Ensure you’ve turned on email notifications for your site so that new comments receive a quick reply. Faster response times tend to correlate to higher rates of engagement. You can also upvote comments you reply to so that others are more likely to see your responses.
Turn comments into content
We’ve seen it countless times on major websites: A story gets so much attention in the comments that someone writes a follow-up addressing that very fact. Often, these stories highlight some of the comments themselves. Think of it as a hybrid form of user-generated content that you control. When readers see that their comments directly influence the content they’re consuming, they’ll likely reward you with loyal readership and participation.
You can apply this strategy on your own site in a more proactive way. Specifically invite readers to contribute comments, tips, or other information that you might select for an upcoming article. Ask a question and provide guidelines on how to best answer it. You can also curate top comments, allowing readers to vote on comments so they surface to the top of the thread. Toggle between different discussion sorts like the newest comments so you don’t miss out on hidden gems.
If you’re on the Disqus Pro plan, check the Top Comments dashboard for the best comments posted in the last seven days. When you’ve finished curating a list of top comments, embed them in your articles using our handy tool.
We also offer publishers several ways to surface popular comments automatically via our API.
Promote reader comments outside of your website
Today’s world truly is omnichannel, with today’s readers engaging with content across several channels like social media, email, digital ads, and mobile apps. The most successful publishers employ a multi-channel strategy to foster engagement and connect to their audiences. This can include:
- Creating social media tiles that spotlight a comment or part of a comment to entice the reader to click into the story
- Framing strong calls-to-action to guide readers to the desired action
- Utilizing mobile push notifications to deliver breaking news stories to readers
- Tailoring each message and creative to the appropriate channel, taking into account character count, the visual nature of some sites like Instagram and Pinterest, and using video where necessary
Recognize top commenters to retain them
There are several ways to reward your most frequent and valuable commenters.
First, you can feature a comment, which pins it to the top of the discussion. Commenters get notified when you feature a comment they posted on your site, closing the feedback loop for their interaction. Not only does featuring top comments recognize readers’ contributions, but it can also boost engagement.
You can also recognize a reader by taking the opportunity to mention them directly in an article. Embed their comment to increase visibility into the ongoing discussions happening across the community.
You can award your community all-stars with a Badge. Badges let you reinforce and reward high-quality contributions from different members of your comments section. Customizable and configurable, Badges are only available to our Pro and Business publishers.
Visit the Top Commenters tab on your site’s comments section to discover more about your readers. Select your site’s name next to the comment count and switch to the Top Commenters list to see the readers who have contributed the most to discussions. Once you’ve identified your top contributors, you can consider interviewing or otherwise spotlighting them on your site. You can also give them additional trusted responsibility as moderators.
One tactic to empower readers is to add those with a track record of posting high-quality comments to your Trusted Users list. Trusted Users have the benefit of being able to post on discussions more freely without requiring moderation review. Not only does this reduce your moderation time by prioritizing your effort, but this also recognizes these readers for their contributions to your site and creates a model for other readers to aspire towards.