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Participation Inequality Online: Don't Panic if Your Blog doesn't Get Comments

Whether we're writing a blog post, article or ebook, we're all hoping for the same thing. A reaction. A few dozen comments and a spirited discussion would be nice. Or at least a sign that someone is out there. Blogging can be tough - especially in the beginning - because it's a one-sided conversation. The risk is that, without the immediate affirmation we want, panic sets in and we go off track and off topic, forgetting what our point was in the first place.

In a super article in Harvard Business Publishing, Alexandra Samuel writes about how blogging is like having a conversation with a Botox user. She recalls meeting a woman at a party and talking about their respective jobs. Her acquaintance, who had spoken animatedly about her own work, seemed to glaze over while listening to Samuel talk about hers.

"I found myself rambling through a perplexing conversation that produced sparkle when she talked, but nothing when I did. I left the party baffled." Months later, she found out that the woman was a heavy Botox user - so the flat facial expression didn't necessarily indicate disinterest.

Likewise, in blogging, it's tough to gauge readers - the enthusiasm and interest may be there, but people rarely express it. Think about how often you pay someone a compliment, or recommend a restaurant or service that you love, or leave comments on others' blogs. Chances are that you just don't think to take these actions, even though you're a fan.

Jakob Nielson reported in 2006 that 90 per cent of online users are lurkers, 9 per cent contribute occasionally, and 1 per cent actively contribute. Nielson says "participation inequality" is a fact of online life, so the best strategy is to expect it and proceed accordingly.

Samuel offers five pointers for improving off- and online communication skills, so that you stay on track with your conversations, no matter how one-sided. One great suggestion for bloggers is that they picture their audience while writing:

"It's easy to feel like you're talking to yourself when you blog or tweet without getting a response. That leads to carelessness -- or even to writing hurtful or counterproductive content. Picture a person that your message is aimed at, whether it's someone you're e-mailing or a single user among your 100,000 Twitter followers. Keep this person in mind, perhaps by literally looking at their picture or avatar as you type. It will make your message more personal, authentic and compelling."

Great advice. How do you deal with "participation inequality"?

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ambal Balakrishnan

Ambal has robust 17+ years experience working at and partnering with high-profile technology companies in both B2B and B2C marketplaces building scalable, reliable, high performance products (both hardware and software) for business with multi-billion dollar in annual revenue. She has done various roles that includes engineering, program management, business development, strategy and marketing for premium and fast growing product divisions at Cisco, Telecordia (prior name Bell Labs) and strategic marketing consulting firm ClickDocuments. At Cisco, she focused on world wide marketing and positioning of Cisco's Cloud & Data Center switching business. She brings both strong engineering & marketing skills with verticals experience from many different industries. Ambal received her Masters in Computer Science from Purdue University and an MBA in Marketing, Strategy and Entrepreneurship from Wharton University of Pennsylvania. Ambal is an avid reader and hiker. Her hiking pursuits have taken her to several mountains including Mt. Whitney at 14,500 feet (which she managed to climb in 1 day). Ambal lives in Austin, TX with her family of 3 boys (that includes her husband!) and a border-collie+lab mix dog named Rainbow.