Fellow blogger Eric Gagnon wrote an editorial on reader engagement and social media versus blogging. He was inspired by Chris and Connie’s Facebook post about declining engagement at BIGDoer’s web site and Facebook page. C&C have noted that their traffic is strong, in terms of page views, but the number of comments on their site and Facebook page have sharply declined.

I searched for a good definition of engagement and I like these two (from the Cambridge Dictionary) the best:

  • the fact of being involved with something; or
  • the process of encouraging people to be interested in the work of an organization, etc.

I’ve bolded what I think are the key words.

Involved and Interested

In today’s rapid-scrolling world, you have to stand out to get people to stop scrolling and read, and especially to comment. Often people access Facebook and blogs from their phones, which are particularly hard to comment with.

How do you get people involved with your site? How do you keep their interest?

If I knew the answer to that, I’d be a millionaire, selling my secrets and techniques!

I know the “experts” recommend asking readers for their opinions, asking them to comment, sending polls, and so forth.

I honestly have to say that, since moving my blog to this platform late last year, the engagement has gone up, not down. Most posts get at least one comment (plus my reply):

Posts with # of comments, in the second last column

I’m crossing my fingers that this continues!

Spam Comments

I do get a lot of spam comments. It’s interesting (to me) what the spammers are trying to sell. At one point it was amoxicillin, which really puzzled me because I believe that is the most common antibiotic prescribed, and it’s inexpensive; why do you need to buy your own from the black market? Often it is just “suck up” comments like this that are intended to drop a link on my blog to whatever site they are trying to promote.

Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is an extremely
well written article. I will make sure to bookark it and come back
to read more of your useful information. Thanks for the post.
I will certainly comeback.

Spelling mistakes are retained.

I get a few spam comments every day. They seem to come in waves.

Comment Statistics

Right now I have 1152 comments on my site, of which:

  • 809 are spam;
  • 107 are mine; leaving
  • 236 from actual readers.

Thank you, actual readers, for commenting. I read every comment and I try to respond to them all. I apologize for the ones I have missed.

Random photo of the Skoonka tunnels near Goldpan Provincial Park in BC
Random photo of the Skoonka tunnels near Goldpan Provincial Park in BC

How I Read Blogs

I read news and most blogs on my phone. I have it with me all the time and it’s easy to pull it out to read a few articles when I have a minute or two of idle time.

However, I usually don’t read train blogs on my phone. I like to read them on my computer, so I can see photos in a larger size and also so I can comment if I choose to.

I definitely don’t comment on every blog post I read, because I often have nothing to say. That’s where that Facebook “like” comes in handy!

I do try to leave a comment where I have something to say, because as a blog writer I know that they are appreciated.

Your Homework

Here’s some homework for you. Please visit one or more of the following blogs and leave a comment on two posts. Maybe you’ll find a new blog to read! Even if you don’t, you’ll make the Internet just a little better and lower that spam-to-real-comment ratio.


11 thoughts on “Engage!”

  1. I often wonder if ‘Like’ is really engaging with the person posting. Isn’t it true that Facebook uses our likes for/against us by sending us more/less of what we like, using their algorithm?

    Notwithstanding that, even if a reader is reading, they are engaging. And even though spammers leave comments, they are not engaging!

    What keeps me up at night? Someday Blogger and other platforms will come along and say ‘your blogging platform is no longer being supported as of April 1 next year’! Then all this effort will have been for nothing – it will disappear into the ether and all I’ll have are memories (or lack thereof). Oh, it’s time for another coffee!

    Thanks very much for your thoughts on this topic which should be of interest to all our fellow bloggers, and whose blogs I must say I semi-regularly enjoying commenting thereon.


    • Thanks for your comment, Eric, and for all the ones you have left in the past. As a fellow railway blogger you know the value of engagement.

      I’d be worried about your posts disappearing too! I know there’s a way in Blogger (or Google) to download all of your posts, so you may want to do that every now and then. I should go do that with my old blog posts too.

      I agree that readers / non-commenters are engaging with the content, but we as bloggers don’t see that except as a “view”. I guess it still counts 🙂

  2. I have been guilty Steve of not always commenting on your blog posts. But I do try to read each one when I can!

    It’s hard sometimes to be engaging and also to be promoting. I don’t have a blog, but sometimes I do posts on Facebook/Instagram about certain subjects. After I post them, it is always a surprise (or not) of how others react or respond to my posts. Sometimes a person gets lots of likes and comments, and the next time it’s quiet and then you are wondering what you did wrong, or if you edited the photo the wrong way. Meanwhile, someone else could post something online (an not so great quality photo or edited article), and then that person would get rave reviews, high-fives… at times a bit disappointing and can cause the author to take five and to try and figure out a different way of getting the word (or photo) out there.

    I understand what Chris and Connie are going through, have had a few long conversations with them on suggestions on how to be engaging and relevant. But then it could be some people don’t have (or don’t care to have) the attention span to read a lengthy blog post or look over photos… But at least adding some occasional comments or the odd “like” to a post does help a bit. Thanks again for sharing this.

    • Oh, I hear you on that, Jason! It often mystifies me when some posts (here or on social media) do super well and others do not. I think my “most liked” photo on Instagram is a static snow plow display from Newfoundland. For some reason that struck a chord and maybe Instagram chose to promote it themselves. Of all my photos, a static display is the most popular. Whodathunkit?

      In the end, we should be sharing the words and photos that mean something to us. I know you don’t “go for the likes” but they are a form of feedback, to be considered but not the sole determinant of what we post.

  3. Thanks for including my blog in the homework section, Steve. I try to take a more self-centered approach to blogging. I try to put up railway related material I find interesting. If I get feedback, I am of course pleased and most importantly, grateful. But, if not, I don’t take it too hard. That said, as a commenter, I am like you. I don’t comment unless I feel I have something to add or want to pass along compliments for extraordinary photos or prose.

    • Hi Michael, I think if we aren’t writing for ourselves, it’s no longer fun, and we stop writing. Please keep on doing what you like to do!

  4. C&C here! Our own experience lately is that the more visitors we get, the less the engagement. This really goes against what one would expect. Still, things have improved since that post. It’s so easy to do FB only, but engagement there is fleeting, even if it’s often quite good. One day your post is hot, the next day forgotten. But on a blog or website, it seems more forever, something that can be referenced today, tomorrow and well down the road. We use the WPDISCUZ plugin for comments and the only spam we get are those entered manually (so few). The bot stuff gets blocked every time – sometimes hundreds per day currently.

    • Hi C&C! I’m glad things are improving.

      I really prefer posting on my web site and sharing that on FB and other social networks. As the saying goes, don’t build your home on rented land. FB decides when to show your post, or IF, and it could disappear at any time.

      Thanks for the input about the comment plugin. On a few other sites I run, I use Disqus, so maybe I should use that here as well.


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