As Bloggers we know, commenters are few and far between these days, and let’s face it, so are return visitors. When we get comments, we get excited and often reply to those lovely people. But do they know we’ve replied? Most of the time no.
If you took the time to comment, maybe asking a question, on someone’s blog and never heard a word, would you return to see if they answered? Probably not.
Building community and engaging an audience that returns again and again doesn’t just happen. That’s why third party commenting systems that allow real engagement and easy threaded commenting with notifications are so popular. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of these and may have even used them. It’s also why social media works so well. We can hold instant conversations on our Facebook pages and Google+ pages.
Let’s talk about the systems available and how they work.
WordPress Commenting with Replies to Comment Author
This is my favorite. It uses the WordPress commenting system with a plugin that will send the commenter an email when you, or someone else, replies to their comment. I like the look of in-line comments that look like they belong on the site. Theme developers design the comment area to match the site. It’s also nice to know your comments are all stored in the same database as your content and you’re not depending on a third party service to host them. You also aren’t asked to login using a social service or other account.
The Comment Email Reply plugin will turn on email notifications so your lovely visitors know you appreciate them and want to continue the conversation. There is no configuring needed. Simply install and activate.
Of the third party systems, DISQUS is my favorite. I’ve used it many times on multiple sites and I like that it stores a copy of the comments on your site’s database as well as in their system. DISQUS is easy to install and once you have a login you can actually track all your own comments on other DISQUS enabled sites across the web.
My favorite feature is the reply-by-email option where you don’t even have to go back to the site to reply to a comment. You get the notification in your email and you can just reply to the email. Talk about slick. But, it works both ways and you commenters can do the same, which could cut back on the number of hits to your site that you’d normally receive if they returned to the site and commented again.
The only downsides are it looks third-party and you have to click a button to sign in using a DISQUS or social media account or to open up the fields for leaving a comment with just your name and email. Personally I’d like to see that option there by default because it’s not obvious that you don’t have to sign in and I think it turns some people off when they think they have to take that extra step.
Some people really like the social sign-in aspect. And it’s true, once you’ve signed in to DISQUS via one of your networks you stay signed in for quite a while meaning any time you visit a DISQUS enabled blog you’re already signed in and ready to comment till the system signs you out.
It’s all a matter of taste.
A lot of my friends use this one and like it. I’ve tried it a few times and it either wouldn’t work for me, or it felt really clunky. And when I go to a site that uses Livefyre I don’t comment. If DISQUS is obviously third party, Livefyre is is like comments tacked on with duct tape and bubble gum.
Livefyre also promises social comment integration (see below) but I’ve heard from multiple sources that it doesn’t really work.
Disclaimer: It’s been a very long time since I tried Livefyre myself, so I can’t speak personally to how this system is currently working other than from what I’ve heard from friends.
What About Social Network Commenting on WordPress?
Oh, the nightmares and headaches I’ve endured trying to enable social commenting on my client’s sites. The truth is, these commenting systems are thrown together and developed for ever changing platforms and the developers can’t keep up with the changes. So, one day, your Facebook Comments for WordPress may work and the next day it’s completely broken. Add to that the fact that only people with FB account can comment and you’ve got a mess.
I’ve seen some Google+ commenting systems on Blogger blogs and it looks pretty slick. I’m hopeful we’ll get something like that for WordPress blogs soon cause we all know Google is the future!
I do love me some CommentLuv! It enables your visitors to show off one of their latest posts in their comment and sometimes that prompts me to go visit their blog. If you’re going to use it, please, please use CommentLuv Premium, and not just because it’s an affiliate link, but because it allows the commenter to pick which post link shows up! I love trying to find something recent of mine that is relevant to the post I’m commenting on. It feels so much more natural. There are lots of other fun features, like Twitter handle links, spam protection and more, with the premium version too and not enough space to talk about them all!
What commenting system are you using? What do you like about it?