Blogging is really hard work. There’s no getting around that fact. Between the technical work involved in designing and maintaining a website, producing regular content on a frequent basis, and editing the work of any writers that you have working for you, the effort is massive.
That effort really starts to pay off once you have a regular, steady flow of lots of visitors every day – visitors that interact with the site and comment on your articles. Getting that to happen isn’t always easy, but once it starts, it’s like a snowball effect. No one likes to comment on a dead blog, but people do feel encouraged to comment on a site where it’s clear other people have already felt compelled to comment.
This makes encouraging comments a nearly impossible task. You need people to comment more in order to have more comments on your blog, but you need more comments in order to get more people to comment.
Thankfully, Disqus finally offers a few widgets that you can install on your site that will encourage your visitors to post their own comments – and get that commenting snowball-effect started.
Using Disqus to Promote Commenting
I’ve used Disqus for years. The reason I first started using the commenting service was because I was so sick of the standard WordPress commenting feature, and the mass number of spam comments that I’d keep getting on a daily basis, no matter what I would do.
Disqus more than relieved those problems. In fact, the service doubled the number of comments that my blog received on a daily basis, just due to the fact that there was already a substantial number of users at Disqus, making it very easy for people to comment with their existing Disqus account.
Now, Disqus has offered four more ways that you can encourage even more comments by carefully placing certain widgets on your site. These widgets use human nature to get people inspired to comment. You can find these widgets by logging into your Disqus account, click on “Admin” and then click on the “Tools” tab.
One of my favorite Disqus comment widgets is “Top Commenters”.
Using these widgets is simple enough. Just modify the settings, copy the code snippet, and paste it in your blog. In the case of the “Top Commenters” widget, you can define the number of commenters to list in the widget, whether to show avatars or block moderators from the list. Then, you just copy the code snippet and paste it in your blog. In my case, I wanted to list my top commenters right in the footer of my blog.
Here’s what the widget looks like once it’s inserted.
It’s clean and very fast-loading. I might do well in my case to block moderators from being listed, especially since I’ve commented on my blog using two accounts. This would also give regular commenters more visibility. Being listed as a “Top Commenter” is really encouraging for a lot of people – it’s the whole “gaming” mentality where people feel a very strong sense of pride when they make it onto the “leaderboard”.
My absolute favorite of all four Disqus widgets is the “Recent Comments” tool. This lets you insert snippets of all of your most recent comments into some area of the site.
Again, you can customize the look of the widget by adjusting how many comments to show, how long of a comment excerpt to display, and the size of the avatar. Once again, copy the code at the bottom and paste it on your page. Ideally, you’ll be pasting these widget codes into your site template – either a sidebar, header or footer that makes up part of every single page on your site.
In this case, I want all of the most recent comments to show up in the sidebar of my site. This gives the site a feeling like it is filled with life and conversation. As people read articles, they’ll notice these comments off to the side – it’s a hint to them that it is a site that has a growing community, and that they should take part in the conversation and become a part of that community.
It’s a good idea to try it out with certain settings, and then modify it so that it has the look and feel you’re looking for. In my case, I feel like 5 comments that show up to 200 words is a bit much. It makes the sidebar feel almost too busy. So, it’s back to Disqus to modify the settings and copy new code. With 4 comments and a max of 100 words per excerpt, the sidebar widget looks much more clean and professional.
The “Popular Threads” widget also offered by Disqus is a little bit different than the “popular threads” widget that you’ll find as standard in WordPress.
The Disqus widget displays not only the articles with the most comments, but it gives priority to the most recent articles with comments.
This prevents the problem where you have articles written 3 or 4 years ago that are consistently displayed on this list, only because it has more comments than any other article on the site. By giving priority to more recent articles, Disqus keeps this list fresh and always-changing.
Disqus also offers one more widget called the “Combination” widget. This one does everything above in one single widget – with tabs for top commenters, most recent comments and most popular threads.
You can customize the color scheme of this widget as well so that it blends in well with your site theme. This is a good widget if you just want to have everything listed in a single sidebar location, rather than breaking up the information on various areas in your site. Personally, I like using the individual widgets, but what you choose really comes down to how you want to lay out comments in your site.
Do you use Disqus? Have you tried out the Disqus comment widgets? If you have, let us know what you think. If you haven’t, give them a test run and share your feedback in the comments section below.
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