Lately I’ve run into a few blogs and Facebook Pages that don’t allow visitors to comment. This isn’t typically an accident as it can only be done by deliberately going into one’s settings and choosing this feature.
From a marketing, customer service, leadership, product and service development, and human perspective, I don’t think this is a wise business decision.
Why? Let’s take a look.
To begin with, we’re talking about Social Media, with a heavy emphasis on Social, right?
Social Media, by its very nature, was developed, and continues, to help individuals and businesses of all types communicate and converse with their audiences. At their very best, these tools help all of us develop relationships in a manner unprecedented in recent decades.
Posting messages without allowing input is defeating your use of these media. To not allow someone to comment, say hello, give an opinion or voice dissatisfaction is sending messages I’m not sure you mean to send.
I’ve heard a few of the reasons for doing this, ranging from the fear of people posting comments that are divisive or negative, to simply having the desire to use these media only to let everyone know what you’re doing, to not having enough time to respond to everyone.
Seth Godin, author of many worthy marketing and communication books, has made it very clear on his blog that he doesn’t allow comments because he would end up writing in anticipation of the comments vs. what he truly wanted to write in the first place. Interesting philosophy, yes?
I urge you to reconsider if you have disabled comments in any Social Media you use. You aren’t making your visitors feel very good about you and, in many cases, are causing them to feel unwelcome and irritated. I doubt those are goals in your marketing or business plans.
Using them in this one-way fashion is a close relative to broadcast media that only serve to communicate your message and not encourage conversation. This is expected there, but it’s not expected, and typically not welcome, in Social Media.
Bottom Line: If you don’t allow me to post comments about something you’ve written, then you are sending me a clear message that you don’t care what I have to say, and that you definitely think that what you have to say is much more important. You’re not allowing me to talk to you about your product, service, employees, give suggestions, get to know, like and trust you, and all of those wonderful connections that help me want to do business with you.
In essence, you’re taping my mouth shut.
I asked my friends and followers on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook how it made them feel when they discovered comments were disabled. Please take time to read them as there is a great deal of wisdom to be found here. It didn’t surprise me that those I heard from are those I typically see engaging their friends and followers in Social Media. They take the time to develop relationships.
I thank all of you below for taking the time to comment when I asked these questions:
Chris Brogan: “I think there are limited times when this is a great strategy, for instance if you want more calls to action on the content. It’s certainly a negative signal to some, so make sure you have a post explaining why not. Seth Godin did.” Chris, thank you for reminding me about Seth’s position.
Zach Woodward: “We can compare this to YouTube comments being disabled. I think the same thought process is involved. The video/page is popular, but for the wrong reasons perhaps.”
Abbie Fink: ”Why bother? If you’re not using it to engage, what’s the point?”
Mary Biever: “If they don’t want to listen, then I don’t want to spend my $ there.”
Pamela Reilly: ”Eliminating the ‘social’ from media makes it obvious they are stuck in the past.”
Brian Shelton: “I think it just reinforces their desire to control communication. One-way communication is over… for the winners.”
TKO Graphix: “I think a no-comments page lacks consideration for the reader.”
Renee Barrett: “You mean glorified digital press releases?”
Beatriz Alemar: “It defeats the purpose of being on FB. You’re on FB for engagement and communication – otherwise you use your website.”
Gwynne Monahan: “Annoying when blog post [is] shared on FB but have to click a few links to get to blog & comment.”
Kevin Chern: “If you post a blog to inspire opinions, might as well give people a forum to discuss them in your comments section.”
…and one final comment to bring a bit of levity to this rather serious discussion from my friend Gini Dietrich:
“You should have blocked comments on this post. That would have been pee in your pants funny.”
Again, thank you all for taking the time to leave such valuable comments, including you, Gini, when I posted my questions.
Those of you who don’t allow comments, are you getting a feel for what you are missing when you see the input above? The Social Media experience is much richer and more valuable because of the interaction and conversation you will discover.
I encourage all my visitors to please join in the discussion we’ve started by adding your own comment below.
As always, thanks for stopping by.
In some cases, I think it's really necessary to disable commenting especially if what is posted is sensitive or controversial. There are many people out there who don't think before they write something. There are also lots of people who have no respect for others. Like they say, freedom of speech isn't absolute, it has its limits.
lorraineball roundpeg Thanks for your comment. I read Peter's post, and shared it within my communities in order to further this conversation. I like his thoughts, and that he settled on Roundpeg allowing comments. I, too, see many comments on other social media, most of them showing up on Google+ and in LinkedIn groups, but can't imagine sending the message that I won't allow them on my actual blog post. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Have a great weekend!
I really don't like comments on blog posts. To me it seems like an inelegant way to carry on the conversation. If I want to respond to your post, I should do so with a post of my own, on my own website. That way there can be no question about whether or not you are censoring anyone. And there's no limitations with regard to formatting, length or capabilities. And finally, my comment is not then lost in a sea of other comments.
But that doesn't seem like it's going to happen, so Nancy is right.
robbyslaughter Hi Robby...thanks for commenting. I like the idea of creating a blog post to address common themes that might arise in the comments section of a blog post, but I think that might also slow down, or stifle, the conversation. This definitely isn't apples to apples, but that might be a little like meeting someone at one of your productivity seminars. Someone walks up to you after the event, makes a comment about something you said during your presentation, or asks you a question. Instead of engaging in conversation right then and there, you schedule another seminar to address the question or comment. Again, not apples to apples, but similar in that it stopped the momentum of that person's desire to interact with you. That person might not follow you to your next seminar, might be offended that you ignored the opportunity to simply answer the question or comment or might simply think it a bit embarrassing that you focused on his/her question by scheduling a new seminar, thus making it obvious to everything he/she didn't know something. Phew...sorry...kind of long-winded, but perhaps a way to express why I like the ability to carry on a conversation in the real estate in which it was started. Thanks for stopping by, my friend!
NancyMyrland I don't see a conversation after a seminar as analogous to a blog comment.
I think about blogging as the 21st century extension of the <strong>discourse of letters</strong> among scientists and philosophers.
We are all editorial columnists, and instead of responding with letters to the editor that the paper may edit, censor, or discard entirely, why not respond in newspapers of our own?