Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
March 3, 2011 4:32 PM

The Liberation Of Comments And The New Storytelling

People leaving comments on a Blog has changed. If it hasn't changed all that much, it's going to.

The primary reason that people leave a comment on a Blog is to add their perspective. It's a huge value add to the core content and it opens up the piece of content from a one-way diatribe into something that looks like engagement and - with a lot of activity and back-and-forth - a conversation. Many will point to comments as the key differentiator between what is a Blog and what would otherwise be known as an article. It was also an important functionality because there were many individuals with unique perspectives who did not want to commit to having their own Blog, so having a place to publish their thoughts was a critical component for the broad adoption of Social Media.

The question is this: is a Blog post any less valuable if the comments don't take place on the Blog post but happen anywhere and everywhere in the online sphere?

The Cognition Blog has two very interesting calls to action at the end of each Blog post (hat-tip to JF). The first one says, "Tweet Your Thoughts" (when you click on it, a box opens up that allows you to write a tweet and connect it to your Twitter profile), and the second one says, "Respond On Your Blog" (when you click on it, a box opens up that allows you to input the URL of your Blog post). There's no question that they could have pushed this even further by adding a "Comment On Facebook" call to action as well.

It's what happens next that makes this concept interesting...

No matter where you respond (in their own comments, on your Twitter feed or by adding in the URL from own, unique, Blog post), your comment still appears beneath the Blog post that you are discussing. Think about the intrinsic value of this as the evolution of Blogs and commenting happens before our very eyes.

  1. You see the whole conversation. Every comment that is being created in all of these individual spaces and platforms are aggregated beneath the Blog post. It's like a 2-for-1 with a much bigger multiplier effect.
  2. It's easy. By adding in this functionality, the user decides where to take/place the conversation. If they feel like it's something relevant to their social graph, they can tweet it. If not, they can just leave the standard/traditional comment on the Blog post.
  3. It creates more chatter. When someone responds to a Blog post in their own Twitter feed, they are helping the Blogger to make their content more shareable and findable. They're also publishing that one thought in multiple places for more people to see and have access to.
  4. You meet more people. For those following along on the Blog post, they can now click over and add/meet new people by connecting to them on Twitter in a much cleaner and visually appealing way than what we traditionally have on Blogs (a hyperlink on the commenter's name).

It just makes sense. 

As much as we may want people to speak their minds about our content on our own properties, they simply won't bend to our will. The truth is that anyone can say whatever they want about anything in nearly any channel, in text, in audio, in video, in images, instantly (and for free) to the world. We can hope that they'll speak their mind about the content we're creating in our own spaces, or we can open up - liberate the comments - and use our platforms to aggregate and curate the content. In essence, why don't more Blogs (and brands!) enable and empower their consumers to share their thoughts - how and where the consumer wants?

It comes back to control.

Bloggers and brands still want to control the dialogue. They set-up guidelines and rules for commenting in hopes that people will respect the repartee that takes place in that one space. We tend to forget that a hater (or lover) now has a choice. Everyone now has a publishing platform - in one form or another (we can point to Twitter and Facebook for democratizing publishing even more than Blogging, Podcasting and YouTube has). It's simple to publish and most people online have an audience. It's fascinating that one Blog post storyline now becomes multiple stories across multiple platforms as each individual is a media with immersive, narrative and collaborative capabilities.

This marks the end of the linear narrative... and that changes everything (again).

By Mitch Joel