One Reason Your Posts Aren’t Getting Any Comments

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A few weeks ago, I attended a picnic with my Sunday School class.

After burgers, hotdogs and Faygo, we gathered around a campfire to start the millenia-old ritual of getting to know one another.

Campfires have a strange power.  Introverts can stare into the crackling embers and get lost in their thoughts.  Everyone respects their silence knowing that introspection is natural when contemplating the flames.  Extroverts slide into their natural habit of storytelling.  Soon everyone is swapping stories, adding their own experiences, relating and comparing.

Within minutes the campfire starts to work its magic.  Sometimes everyone is listening to one story. Other times people break off into intimate ad-hoc huddles.

Sometimes there is someone who doesn’t “get it”.

Instead of listening they dump whatever is on their mind into the circle.  They wait impatiently for their chance to steer the conversation.  These folks disrupt the flow of conversation and mangle the magic of the campfire.

These people usually mean well.  They often have fascinating stories to tell.  But, their sin is insisting on telling and not sharing.

Telling is a monologue.  Sharing is describing emotion, intent, and observation.  Telling works best when it’s one-sided.

“I went to Miami University.”  “I have three kids.”  “I worked for Senator Glenn.”

Open and shut.  Unless you went to Miami, or worked on Capitol Hill we have little in common.

Sharing is different.

“College was a blur.  I can’t remember what I learned academically, but I remember struggling with my self-identity”

“I think I’m an average parent.  50% of the time I don’t have a clue.  The other 50% I’m faking it”

“I was supposed to go to law school.  I spent a summer seeing why I thought I wanted to be a lawyer.  I quickly learned that politics has little to do with the law”

Can you relate?  Feel the difference?

We often make the same mistake on our blogs.  And it’s the one reason why many blogs fail to get comments.  People can compare, relate, and find connections with emotion and intent.  Your readers can relate to happiness, regret, surprise, and wonder.  They can’t relate to labels, abstract concepts, and clever soundbites.

Think back to the campfire; who was the most intriguing person in the group?

For me its the person who gives me a glimpse at their heart.  It’s the parent who describes how tough it is to relate to their son.  It’s the professional describing how he’s burned out at his job.  It’s the divorced mom relating memorable or forgettable dating tales. These windows into people’s heart immediately prompt a comment.

The same goes for your blog.

Look at your posts.  Are you telling or sharing?

Have you climbed up on a soapbox or are you describing your personal feelings and observations?  Are you inviting readers to pull up a chair and relate with you? If not, then you will struggle to get comments.  Not because you are a lousy writer; the problem is that you are a “closed book”.  People can’t comment because they don’t know what to comment about.

[onethousand]

About Stan

Stan Smith is the Managing Director of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

24 thoughts on “One Reason Your Posts Aren’t Getting Any Comments

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  4. MaAnna

    Stanford, this post exemplifies one more reason why you are one of my fave bloggers. Since so many of my posts are how-to and tutorials, I often don’t think to write more posts that have a sharing tone. I will now. Thanks for the nudge!

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  6. Elle

    Wow! I will now have to take an active position on my blog to share rather than tell. Thanks for the good insight!

  7. Julie Myers

    You really draw a picture with your words. Telling is so very impersonal and, at times, can be taken as condescening or even arrogant. Sharing personal stories is a great way to get your point across and really get the conversation started. I have to be sure to remember this myself!

  8. Melonie Dodaro

    Wonderful! You’ve just stated something that has been bugging a lot of people now. Great post with no comments doesn’t just go together. You’ve stated it so simply that it felt like a dash of cold water. It’s not rocket science, it was simply told in a good old-fashioned way – maybe that’s what made it even more amazing. Cheers!

  9. Koos

    Wow, Stanford, Great service! I’ll be longing for Thursday.

    Have a great evening and thanks a million form Holland,

    :-) Koos

  10. Stanford Post author

    I know exactly what you mean. That’s why I am planning a post for Thursday that dives into the business side of this subject. Namely, how can businesses share versus tell.

  11. Koos

    You are right of course,

    And then the question in my mind is: how do I use this in a blog for corporate users. Are they interested in storytelling. Yes. Stories about other companies and their failures (I am not alone They think then)

    No, they are not interested in my feelings. They don’t go to their boss telling him I am a great guy with real emotions. They want facts.

    So I’m puzzling. reckoning what I mean?

  12. Stanford Post author

    I know! I’m going camping in three weeks – can’t wait to for the conversation.

  13. Stanford Post author

    In the business world, we are talking about telling the same story in different ways. This is the CMO’s new job – finding all of the small stories that make up the bigger brand story. It’s harder but much more effective.

  14. Stanford Post author

    Thanks Katie. I think it’s easier to share if you imagine your readers joining the campfire. It immediately changes your tone and approach.

  15. Katie McAleece

    This is eye opening. As I was reading it I sort of said to myself, “Ohhhh.”

    Makes perfect sense, you’re right. Sharing is a better way to get people connecting and sharing themselves. It’s a simple enough principle, but it’s really brilliant too.

  16. Rogier Noort

    Good post Stanford.., you did indeed hit the nail on the head.
    I am a bit stuck though.., “story telling” is told to be high on the list of bloggers and marketeers.
    I do feel you are right though and that you should Share a story instead of Telling it (dialogue vs. monologue).
    So.., where are we heading then.., Story Sharing. Same story, different approach.., I will try that.

  17. AnujaK

    Thanks @Stanford for drawing a clear line between telling & sharing. The example is great.
    Indeed we all want a dialogue and not a monologue!

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  19. Laureen Quick

    Stanford:

    I like the distinction you make between telling and sharing. When you are “telling” you get to hide behind your message. When you are “sharing”, you are revealing yourself and you become vulnerable. I think it is your vulnerability that makes you an authentic writer.

    Thank you for sharing your insight.

    Lq

  20. Linda Esposito

    Hi Stanford–

    Very practical and on-spot. I think the big difference b/w sharing and dumping emotionally is the ability to keep the reader’s needs in the forefront. Also, sharing implies a degree of vulnerability, which is hard.

    Nobody wants to feel like they’re being talked at, or spoken down to. And the emotional vomiters are just as off-putting.

    Love the campfire analogy. Makes me yearn for s’mores ;).

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