Responding to Comments: Why It Matters

Have you ever poured your heart out in the comments on a post, and returned to it repeatedly to see if the blogger responded…only to learn that you were basically ignored?

Yeah, me too. Kinda hurts.

I realize that some bloggers get hundreds of comments on a post, and acknowledging all of them is impossible. There are times that even I can’t respond to all my commenters—and my numbers are pretty modest. But I do try to respond to everyone at least once out of every few times they comment. As a reader, I know I like it when I am acknowledged, and as a writer, I want commenters to know that I appreciate the time they’ve taken to share their thoughts on a post, especially when those thoughts are lengthy. When I’ve commented multiple times on a blog and my comment love is not reciprocated, I either don’t comment again (I just lurk), or I don’t go back to the blog at all. I’m sure I’m not the only one.

Genuine, thoughtful comments deserve a genuine, thoughtful reply.

comment button

via Google Images

Here on G&G, topics run the gamut, because this blog is all about what I think and what I’ve experienced, beyond just fashion. While I have received many thoughtful comments on the subject of fashion, it is usually my more controversial or “real-life” posts that get the most meaningful and exciting comments. As important as fashion is (uh, yes it IS important), let’s face it—with fashion posts, comments are generally I like it/I don’t like it, and there’s not a lot to be said to that in response.

But when you write about a more serious subject and you get serious comments, do not discount the importance of your response. Words well-strung—and even words that carry a simply-stated message—have a certain gravitas. Gravitas that can be life-altering, I kid you not.

Rather than blather on about it, I’ll just let you read this comment excerpt from my Getting Over Homesickness page:

Dean November 27, 2012

I was let go from a job of 14 years in Omaha because of a new CEO. To make ends meet for my family, I’ve taken a position in Baltimore so cash flow is not disrupted. My wife and I talked about this move and felt it was best for our family at the time, but I am so homesick and sad, that I go back to my hotel room and weep nearly every night. I am actively searching for new positions back in Omaha, but until that happens, I’m stuck in a place I don’t like, and whose culture is totally different than my former reality. It’s not a foreign country, but it might as well be since cultural differences abound between the east coast and midwest. I’m going through the bargaining stage of grief at this point, promising God anything to get back to the place I love, and I’m also taking anti anxiety medicine to deal with the lows. Taking one day at a time makes the process not seem so overwhelming, but keeping that focus can be a challenge sometimes.

V @gritandglamour November 27, 2012 

Dean, I can feel the anguish behind your comment. I am so sorry that you feel so badly and that a job loss is what forced your move. Being homesick on top of all the stress you must feel totally SUCKS. Keeping the focus on one day at a time, knowing you WILL eventually get back to Omaha is indeed challenging, I’m sure. All I can say is write down exactly what you want. For some reason, I find when I write things down, they almost always come to fruition, even when I don’t have any idea how. And keep working your network in Omaha. I bet as soon as we flip into 2013 and everyone has a fresh budget, there will be more hiring. Just keep reminding yourself (and the universe) that this is TEMPORARY!

Please let me know how you are. I bet you’ll be back home with your family early next year.

Dean January 21, 2013

I wrote a comment on November 27 that I had been let go of a former position I held for 14 years and took a position in Maryland, expressing my anguish the despair I felt because of my homesickness. You told me to write down what I wanted because I was making a declaration to the universe and that for some reason writing it down seemed to get you what you wanted most of the time.

I did what you suggested, stating that I choose a new job in Omaha by January 15 without anything in the hopper at that time. Long story short is that I was offered a new job on January 18, and accepted it the next day. Conincidence? Maybe, but I prefer to think that God was working on behalf and that writing down one’s choices made a difference. I’m giving my notice tomorrow in MD and then will be driving back to my home. Thanks for listening and responding back to me. It really helped.

 

ER, can you say GOOSEBUMPS? I sure got them when I read Dean’s comment yesterday. That comment is just one of many that remind me why I do take the time to reply back to both regular readers and complete strangers.

Comments may seem like they are only words on a screen, but they aren’t just words on a screen. THAT is why commenting and being mindful of your words and online interactions is so important; your words have the power to lift someone up in their darkest hour, or be the final nail in the coffin.

Coincidentally, my unfortunate friend in plagiarism victimization, B of Beautifully Invisible, posted on the power of words the same day Dean’s comment came in. You should read A Year Later: How Being Plagiarized Caused Me To Lose My Voice for another testimonial about the power of words and blog commenting. Sharing your opinion or a critique is very different from a personal attack. You can respectfully disagree with diplomacy and tact.

Don’t ever forget that there is a REAL person behind the blog, and a REAL person behind the comment. Be kind, or be silent.

 

Comments

  1. says

    That comment exchange seriously gave me chills.

    It’s so nice to see bloggers (big and small alike) who take the time to read comments and respond to them. As someone who only receives a few comments per post, I usually respond to every comment, even if it’s just a small thought. I hope if I ever receive as many comments as you I’m able to make the same commitment that you have.

    Bravo, V!
    Rachael @ Style Every Day’s latest post: Winter ColdMy Profile

  2. says

    Wow. This was an incredible read. I am the first to say that I’m not always a good commenter, a lot having to do with how Blogger was set up, but I’m not one to make excuses. I am honestly so thrilled to now be on WordPress, one of the biggest reasons being that I can easily reply to commenters and go back to their blog from there. I can ALSO see who mentioned me in a post (after some digging) and personally thank them via comment for being so kind to link me.

    You have such an impact on people, V. I love seeing you use it in a positive way.

    xo,
    E
    erika sheffer’s latest post: 01 / love this, want thatMy Profile

  3. says

    I completely agree V! This just happened to me on my most recent blog post. I met a photographer at a fashion event, and he visited my post and commented, then asked me how to resume blogging on a regular basis. I responded and gave him tips, and said ultimately, you need to be inspired and to write about things that move you and excite you. He responded back that I hit the nail on the head and that he needed to do the same, and he thanked me for taking the time to respond.

    Your post is important and thanks for bringing it up so that bloggers will know and understand that people do read and care!

    xoxo
    Cyrillynn
    Any Second Now’s latest post: Weekend in Pictures: I Heart Shimmer!My Profile

  4. says

    THIS THIS THIS! You always seem to hit the nail on the head. If I take the time to write something thoughtful on your blog more than once I’d like a reply. I try and reply to every comment even if its a quick ‘Thank you so much for your comment.’ When bloggers habitually ignore you, it kind of feels personal.
    Katy’s latest post: The Facts of WhitneyMy Profile

  5. says

    That is wonderful example of a very profound comment exchange.
    Personally I don’t get around to replying to comments on my blog very much – it’s not because I am ignoring who is commenting though. I just prefer to make the effort to go over to the blog of the person who commented and check out their posts and leave a comment on their blog instead. I really just don’t have time to do both things though – that’s just the way things are and out of two options (i.e. spending more time on my blog writing more stuff vs. spending time visiting someone else’s) that’s my chosen method of replying – I don’t myself go back to blogs where I’ve left comments to see if I have a reply (unless there is something specific I asked them) and I know other bloggers who regularly comment on my blog have admitted they don’t come back to read replies either (so what’s the point?). I’d actually prefer people I leave comments for to come over and say hi than just reply on their own blogs and I’m sure I am not alone in that.
    Veshoevius’s latest post: As White as Snow, As Red as BloodMy Profile

  6. says

    YES!

    I love this post because it is something that I’m really passionate about. I’m a big fan of social media and I tend to read a lot of literature on it and also follow a few social media ‘guru’s and one word that comes up all the time is ‘engagement’. A lot of people forget about the ‘social’ aspect of social media and blogging is one arm of that. I don’t begrudge people who don’t reply to comments that are simply ‘yeah I love that’ or ‘nice post’. There’s not much you can respond to that.

    But I don’t get when bloggers completely ignore your comment if you spend the time investing in writing it and actually try to engage them by asking questions or even worse not even authorising it to appear on the blog. That’s happened to me in the past with quite a large lingerie blog, but the post didn’t have many comments.

    You know what happened? I didn’t go back.

    Why?

    Because the beauty of blogs now is that there are very few that are so original you can’t get the content they produce else where (but that’s another topic). I knew of three other lingerie blogs that I could follow instead.

    I do tend to revisit the blogs I post insightful comments to just to check to see if they’ve been responded to. That’s why I have a plugin on my blog that automatically emails you a reply if I reply to your comment, I know you have it on this blog as well.

    I’ve noticed this trend expanding to Twitter as well. I always loved Twitter because it was a lot more open than other platforms in that you could engage and interact with people you weren’t following or that weren’t following you. But recently I’ve noticed a lot of people who when you ‘@’ them just blank you. Which I never understand, especially if you follow them and try and engage with them every now and then. Again, I think they’re missing out the ‘social’ of social media.

    It’s not about just barking out what you’re up to or your thoughts into cyberspace. But then again, maybe it’s because if anyone follows me or interacts with me I usually reply/follow back unless it’s obvious they’re a bot.

    Finally (sorry about the essay, I’m quite passionate about this subject), you read IFB and the like talking about trying to make yourself stand out in the blogosphere. With more and more blogs on the same subject matter springing up everyday I think things like replying to comments sets you apart.

    Imagine a superblogger with hundreds of comments replying to each one consistently that’s something that would really stand out in my eyes and set them apart from the others.
    Arash Mazinani’s latest post: Street Style Icons: BankeMy Profile

    • says

      I’ve noticed this trend expanding to Twitter as well. I always loved Twitter because it was a lot more open than other platforms in that you could engage and interact with people you weren’t following or that weren’t following you.

      That’s been my biggest complaint against Twitter lately. I know others find success having conversations engaging with others, but I often feel that it’s so difficult to jump back in… and many times, it’s not worth it, as it’s become a bunch of self-promotional white noise.

      I know I’ve told this story hundreds of times, but it wasn’t until I read, in a survey response, that a reader stopped commenting because I wasn’t responding. It was during a particularly busy period of my life, and I saw others not commenting… and just assumed it was the place to “drop” to keep up with everything else. So not so! After that, I realized that if I have only time for ONE THING, responding to comments is the thing I need to do. And so I’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for people to comment and know that they’ve received a response in return.
      Ashe @ Ash in Fashion’s latest post: Inspiration: Courage does not Always Roar…My Profile

  7. says

    Hey V- rocking post!!! Like you I do take the time to reply back to ALL comments I get, even to the follow me, I’ll follow you back ones and the one liners, just as courtesy, y’know! Sometimes when I’ve had a crazy week it takes longer for me to reply but I do get there, eventually.

    That’s amazing for Dean though! I like to think it’s because you rock lady!
    x.o.x.o
    A Brit Greek’s latest post: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT: FIRMOO GLASSES REVIEWMy Profile

  8. says

    I personally enjoy commenting back. I appreciate and love when a blogger replies to a comment, of course not to every single one that I may make. I understand time is precious and we all have very busy moments, I often blog mobile or iPad, so it’s so much easier to reply. However, when a blogger consistently ignores replying to a comment especially as stated above when you have clearly “read” their post, and not simply passing through to say only “cute” or “great post,” well then I think it merits a simple reply every now and again. I also have seen bloggers who just do not like to comment at all, in some cases their support is by visiting your blog or most recently I have seen occasionally an Instagram comment here and there. But, to each their own I guess. Anyway, my rambling aside, I agree with you on this! :) /M
    FASHION TALES’s latest post: 5 Things and a Scoop of TalentMy Profile

  9. THE-LOUDMOUTH says

    That comment exchange is absolutely amazing. It shows how truly valuable and powerful words can be. The blogosphere is a magical, in a way. I feel like it’s fate that certain people meet and chat. It really does change our lives.

    I totally know the feeling of commenting and not getting a response. It happens a lot! I try to respond to every single comment, but instead of doing it on my own page I visit the individual blogs. The only times I respond to the comment right on my own blog is if a question is asked that others might have and want to see the answer to, or if that person doesn’t have a blog. But I don’t think it matters which way you do it, as long as we’re all communicating with each other!

    Thanks for another fantastic post, V!
    THE-LOUDMOUTH’s latest post: Look :: My Big Fat Housewarming PartyMy Profile

    • says

      THIS—–>> “But I don’t think it matters which way you do it, as long as we’re all communicating with each other!”

      Exactly!

  10. says

    That is such a wonderful and powerful message. You never know who you might influence or HOW in the blogging world. Often its a simple style option or DIY project, but its when we can truly impact the lives of readers for the better that we feel most fulfilled. You were a true blessing to Dean and I’m certain they will never forget it!
    Neahle Ize | Living Chic in Brooklyn’s latest post: Lusts of the WeekMy Profile

    • says

      Glad you like this post! Yes, I do think that we all have things to teach and be taught—the blogosphere is an awesome medium in that regard. Words can be very, very powerful…so we should always use them judiciously.

      Thanks for your comment, love!

  11. says

    @Styleeveryday
    @fashionsmaven
    @BonBonRoseGirls
    @styleactivist
    @any2ndnow
    @IamKatyK
    @sheblog
    @taxnomywardrobe
    @arashmazinani
    @abritgreek
    @Ohtobeamuse
    @ladyofashion

    I responded to your comments, but unfortunately, those responses (as well as a LOT of other comments) were lost during a host server switch that was happening during the same time frame. So I wanted to reiterate here how much I appreciate all your thoughts and the time you took to share them. I’m really bummed our correspondence on this post was lost; hopefully you all did receive emails with an individual reply.

    Thanks again, hopefully the server issues are behind us now!

    V.

  12. says

    I did receive an email with your original reply when you first responded, and thank you my dear! I know you definitely try to respond in kind, and I appreciate it!

    xoxo
    Cyrillynn
    Any Second Now’s latest post: Old NavyMy Profile

  13. says

    I really enjoyed this post, because it gets down to the whole point of blogging – it’s about interacting with people, it’s a 2 way street. I agree with fashion posts and other simple post (food/recipes comes to mind) there isn’t really much to say but when someone takes the time to write something heartfelt it’s important to respond. Sometimes I’m not sure where to respond, email? comments? their blog? I try and answer questions in the comments sections and send a private response for other things. It is hard to find the time (it’s something I need to work on) but it’s important.

    Honestly there is nothing more off-putting then going to a blog and seeing a comment section filled with unanswered questions… especially if the post has been up for awhile! I always wonder why those bloggers are blogging if they can’t take the time to respond to something their readers really want to know.

    Em
    Em K’s latest post: seeing starsMy Profile

    • says

      We’re in total agreement. I hate seeing reams of comments, and never a response. It’s just beyond rude. Bloggers do need to build some time into the management of their blogs that includes responding to at least a few comments on each post.

  14. says

    I wish so much that every blogger would read this post. When I first started out I made an effort to reach out to other bloggers via comments on their blogs. I can’t tell you how many just ignored me. You were one of the few who didn’t, and I still follow your blog to this day. Responding to comments creates a conversation, and that conversation creates friendship and loyalty.

    Personally I respond to each and every comment on my blog, even if tis just a quick thank you. Yes, it’s time consuming, but totally worthwhile. I also try to follow all my readers on twitter, and I check out their blogs as well.

    Seriously, commenting on a blog takes time. Your form is easy, but so many people have captcha, or worse, discus, and getting a comment to post takes some serious effort. Why would I do all that just to be ignored? What really gets me are the people who complain that they don’t get many comments any more, but they don’t respond to any of the ones they receive.

    From a totally selfish point of view, receiving well written, thoughtful comments helps your blog’s SEO. All the words your friends write become part of the post, and can increase your search engine ranking.

    Thanks again for a wonderful, thought-provoking post!
    Heather’s latest post: Sparkly Nude NailsMy Profile

    • says

      “Responding to comments creates a conversation, and that conversation creates friendship and loyalty.”

      I’ve always thought this too, Heather. I get REEEEEEEALLY irritated when I leave a long comment on a blog, and the blogger never acknowledges it. I just unfollowed a blogger this week because of that. It’s offensive, especially when the blogger isn’t getting more than 25 or 30 comments. I’d rather they not comment on my blog, and at least respond on theirs. But silence? Uh, no. Unless you’re Garance, that sh*t doesn’t fly.

      And you’re right about the Captcha, DISQUS, and other commenting functions that make it a nightmare. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bailed on commenting because the form isn’t mobile-friendly, or requires all that just to submit. Bloggers need to think about that. I’ve tried to cover it in the past…maybe you should. I’d love to see a post from you about that that I can share with others.

      Thanks for chiming in here, and for always coming back. I need to try to get over to see you (and so many others) a lot more. That’s part of my blog goals this year!

  15. says

    I can’t tell you how many powerful messages my blog has received because of my post about my brother. Some people have even come forward to say that reading the post made them decide that they would not end their life that night–because they didn’t want their family members to be in as much pain as they would be in, which reading my post made them realize. Words are powerful, but don’t discount how powerful your actual blog posts can be too!

    I try to respond to as many comments as I can. Sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, but I hope that my readers understand. :) Great post as always, Vahni! You’re always so insightful and it’s one of the many things I love about you. xoxo K
    Kristina’s latest post: My Fragrance Collection Pt 2My Profile

    • says

      I bet that post does get some incredible comments. I know it affected me.

      I also know you are one busy lady, and that you write from the heart and respond to us when you can.I’m sure your readers are in it for the long haul with you, because you are so honest and REAL on your blog. We all know you have so much going on…er…DOC!

      And this easily could have bene written from me to you: “You’re always so insightful and it’s one of the many things I love about you.”

      xoxo

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