1. Hmmm. Without RSS, blogs tend to be one-to-many channels with no inbuilt audience and a lot of footwork required to build that audience. You, Dave, live what you preach – that RSS answers a lot those inherent limitations of blogging. I don’t agree with you – I think a bunch of people like the look and feel of a dine-in social network i.e. prefer to have “Facebook time” rather than read a take-out RSS reader but at least you live your principles. RSS is still for reasonably sophisticated users. You know your audience and turning off comments and turning on RSS is fine.

    The likelihood of you having a reader that is struggling to understand blogs and social networks and RSS and Digg and all that stuff is well, not high. I don’t like that fact that you force me to find another way of commenting to you – so usually I don’t bother – but at least you stick with your mantra of RSS Is Good.

    Seth is from the other end of the spectrum He is all about communication, engagement, companies hearing from the little people. The one’s who still ask if they should be blogging, is Facebook a waste of employee time, should email be allowed (oops maybe not the last one). These are not your audience.

    So yes, grumpy you don’t have comments on, but heh, you’re allowed, you earned it, and it fits with your value system. You and I can differ on this one.

    But I’ll never agree with Seth turning off comments – he who speaks to the newbie social marketer – in a blue moon. His audience? I’d open up forums, with a low barrier to entry, have some many-to-many discussions happening, employ some marketing interns who’d love to work for him to moderate/admin, get a full conversation happening, catering to the most introductory level. Not hide behind ‘go create your own blog, no engagement from me’ stuff.

  2. I really hate disqus. 9x out of ten doesn’t load on my browser, so I have no clue there are comments there; I look and can’t contribute. Oh dear, deleted the ‘heh’ text, no wonder you were confused, poor thing :p

    I’ve had a discussion with Duncan Riley at Inquisitr too, about disqus. It’s bad news.

  3. I guess on some level you’ve got to want to be social. Presumably there are people out there who are completely asocial, or even antisocial. And one might wonder if Godin’s ivory tower approach doesn’t make him seem more aloof/mysterious to many people. I mean if he didn’t already have some level of noteriety we wouldn’t be discussing him now. Is he gaming the system? Sure. Are people still digging, stumbling, tweeting and retweeting? Yes. Not a day goes by that something doesn’t appear in my twitter feed about him – and I don’t follow Godin. And maybe, just maybe, it is within the twitter vernacular we might garner the most telling aspect of Godin’s (ahem) “tribe.” He doesn’t have readers so much as followers, not in the twitter sense but in the religious sense. He is as engaging as the Pope. They both appear periodically to make announcements from their pulpits and from within the relative safety of their Pope mobiles, and some people listen. But will any of us have any audience with either? Seems doubtful. lol

    John Lacey’s last blog post..The Father Bob Show

  4. Actually the Seth Godin on Twitter was fake. His account was taken back by Twitter. Check out @SethGodin now:
    * Name sethgodin
    * Location Outer Mongolia
    * Web http://squidoo.com/seth
    * Bio Seth is not active on Twitter. This is a placeholder.

    Maybe we should call him “The Placeholder Social Media Pope”? *laughs* Unlike @DaveWiner who IS actively engaged in discussions on his blog (oops) and Twitter and elsewhere.

    And while I don’t want to turn this into a ‘spank seth’ session – no really I don’t – has anything added to social media spam like squidoo? I really think that an early recognition of comments and engagement would have made him a lot more vigilant about limiting Squidoo as a spam site. I’d love Google to blacklist the whole social network, to be honest…

      1. Have conversations. Bond with people. Build communities. If you can manage to do that following 20k then great. If you’re just doing it with 10 why bother following the others?

        1. @skribe I like following lots – I see the stream go by. Maybe 2000 of them all tweeting about Mumbai or something. I don’t respond to all, but just one or two each time.
          It’s the ones who follow 2,000, get 1800 back, then delete the connection. So they look really popular but did it in a sneaky way. They are a broadcast channel, but don’t get much back in the other way. Constipated twittering I figure.

          There’s more value in the information IN (comments, tweets) than anything you or I could put OUT.

          @davewiner … not that you were asking me 😛

          1. @silkcharm If people ask you questions, from what I’ve seen, you tend to respond. It may not be every time, but you’re involved in the conversation. The people I’m talking about aren’t. They never do except for their cliché. They’re using twitter almost purely as a broadcast medium and that’s missing out on most of the benefits. I just don’t understand why they bother.

          2. I’m happy to have my thinking corrected and it may be the filter of my own limitations blurring my view — but I cannot see how anyone is building a deep, strong network if one follows thousands of people or has thousands of “friends”.

            As far as following goes, I follow people I find interesting and with whom I want to engage – with a few exceptions for news feeds. If I get a new follow I look at their Tweets, their web site and their follow patterns and make a decision. I don’t feel an automatic quid pro quo is building a real relationship. In fact, I’m going to go through a culling process.

            After all, I’d hate to miss pearls of wisdom from people like you whom I enjoy because people I don’t know decide it would be fun to Tweet the local paper or details of their meals.

          3. Thank you kiddo!

            I’ll explore those tools for managing the flow of information because I am finding that the voices I look for are often drowned out. I’m trying to make the most of the time I spend online and want to build honest relationships. Cheers!

            KerryJ’s last blog post..What I want to remember from Outliers

          1. @KerryJ hon, you can run your social network any way you want on Twitter – as long as you understand there is a price for each decision.

            If you run a gated community (the lock) you have a private comfortable discussion group of friends. But it’s a bit of an echo chamber. You all like the same sites, tV programs, politics and only have debates over pizza etc. 😛

            If you run an open but smallish community, you have a reasonably manageable flow of information and a few friends. You might miss out on the big news stories, but you might not. You will meet a couple of interesting FOAFs but probably not many. FOAF – friend of a friend or outer data point. We often get jobs not from our friend, but our friends best friend. See?

            Largish networks of mutual follow/following – a stream of information. Collective intelligence means you may not know them well, (SOCIAL in social networks mean society, not party) but there is sense in numbers. 30 tweets from strangers breaking news is as trustworthy as one from a best friend. More so maybe.

            Large network of followers, but not following back? You have a broadcast channel – announcing what you are doing but not really taking anything else back in.

            If you like, use the main twitter for a stream of human collective conscious, then use Tweetgrid or Peoplebrowsr to set up some tabs: Leaders for Dave Winer (heh) Scobleizer Shel Israel etc. Then a tab for friends then one for colleagues. Heck have one called enemies for competitors 🙂

            It’s more likely you will be caught up in the friends minutiae than in real information from lots of people, I think. YMMV.

    1. Have to agree – sort of…

      I follow just over 400, but only about 40 of those are my core social circle. Yet I’d hate to lose contact with the other 360 of them, they often have valuable insights or resources I can use myself.

      On my blogs, I think I have about 100 people all up who follow in one way or another. Most of them never ever comment, so I get almost no feedback here.

      And in my social networks, I have a couple of hundred, of whom I know only a handful personally, and a handful are also Twitter friends, another handful are blog audience.

      The key is that it’s *social* – and the definition of that changes depending if you consider yourself a source, a disseminator, or a participant. The trick is either finding a role in that list, or being good at all of them…

      teddlesruss’s last blog post..Antisocial Networking

  5. What’s fascinating, Laurel, is that while some would like to decide what’s appropriate for everyone, the rules keep changing. By the original definition of ‘blog’, not one of the top ten blogs on technorati is actually a blog, because they are written by teams of people, not a single individual. The original point of a blog was one blog one person. So, should we rail about that?

    I think the beauty of the web/blog infrastructure is that you can post in any language you want, use the systems you want, the rate you want and the length you want. If people don’t want to read it, that’s just fine. If you don’t want to read my blog, I’ll miss you, but that’s your call. But please don’t insist I do it your way.

    I’ve never said I was the Pope, never insisted people do social media only one way (except to be relentless in opposing spam). And despite your assertions to the contrary, the reasons I posted for not having comments are in fact true. It’s not about google juice or forcing people to link to me. But of course, it’s unlikely I can persuade you of this.

    I get and read and respond to hundreds of emails a day and read hundreds of blog posts. Please don’t tell me I’m isolated, that I don’t engage and that I don’t know what my readers are interested in.

    Some people like the online scrum. Good for them! But please don’t insist that everyone who writes online does it the way you want it done.

    Seth Godin’s last blog post..Who you are and what you do

    1. Seth – what makes you think you can turn comments off your blog, yet be welcome to come here and join in the ‘online scrum’? You turned your back on conversation – for reasons that may or may not have to do with marketing your site – but you want to participate here? Tsk tsk. Begone I say! Your highly valued purity of thought might be tarnished by the great unwashed, us the consumer. Flee!

      If you really want to respond, write a blog post and link to me. Like we are meant to do to you. No? Ah well. *trying to decide whether to delete Seth’s comment* After all, it’s all about control isn’t it, Seth?

    2. Sorry Mr Godin, but I’m firmly behind Ms Papworth here – once you remove the comments then you’re no longer a blog, but an online diary. All your arguments abut the slippery nature of defining what constitutes a blog, one of the features of a blog has always been the interactive nature of comments. So now you’re either a diarist or a journalist (although a lot of online news organisations got wise and enable comments so that they can benefit from the interactions of their readership) but you’re no longer a blogger.

      I’m not saying you *have* to do it any way – I’m saying that calling it a blog but then publishing a noninteractive journal is not anything that inspires me to keep reading. I may not comment often, but I appreciate having the facility to do so if I want to …

      teddlesruss’s last blog post..Do Your Pets Have Weird Names?

        1. @teddlesruss Is it more respectful to provide a comment facility and then not reply to comments or to state you just don’t have the time to answer comments so rather than set up a false expectation, you’ve shut them off?

          I don’t think it’s pathological to feel a certain responsibility to respond to comments. But then again, I don’t get hundreds (or even tens of) comments. Perhaps letting the comments build up and then responding all at once is the best compromise for those blessed/cursed with huge followings.

          I do agree with you that a blog without the give and take of comments isn’t a blog as I’ve come to understand them in recent years.

          And I also agree that if any consultant is advising businesses to set up social networks to open up communication with consumers — he/she needs to eat his own dog food.

          KerryJ’s last blog post..What I want to remember from Outliers

    1. @skribe there’s no right or wrong, there’s just penalties. The penalty of time limiting comments means you might miss an opportunity in the long tail of social content. That can’t be good can it?

  6. Audacious post and good points on both sides. My gut tells me there’s a little bit of tall poppy syndrome creeping in though. It is a fundamental Australian characteristic after all.

    If I was as busy as Seth, I’d probably turn my comments off also. At that level of multitasking, you would have to make decisions on what really is important and I’m not sure responding to the masses is up there.

    Mark Ferguson’s last blog post..iamarkus: our Japan snowboarding trips lads. @iamkitch quickly slapped it together for us. cheers babe. Check it.

    1. I’m British 🙂 if there is any hidden agenda at all from me to him it’s this:

      Unfortunately for many baby marketers who are given titles of “online marketing” and the only name they know/read is Seth Godin. They come to my social media workshops, they want to turn comments off on their blog, YouTube channel and Flickr fotos, and when I say why? that’s not engagement, they respond, well Seth does it. He makes me work ten times harder at the coal face, to bring about communication. No fair. If you’ve been keeping an eye on twitter Australia, you’d know who it is – I’m not outing them. heh.

      And I don’t think that’s such a hidden agenda. More like a really really obvious one 🙂

      *shrugs* sure turn off comments if you are a dev broadcasting out latest releases. Or an astrologer posting horoscopes. Or a company broadcasting out the latest Bargain of the Day. It’s not community but it is basic marketing 1.0. But a marketer espousing engagement 2.0? No way are non-media companies going to understand distributed discussions, monitoring and measurement thereof. Not at the first go-pass anyway.

    2. Ummm no. I have no aspirations or misconceptions “above my station,” which is what tall poppy syndrome is based on. I also don’t need to cut people down “to my level” because I don’t believe my level is *down there.*

      A comment about Tall Poppy Syndrome being an “aussie thing” though, now that is a bit telling, seeing it’s coming from an Aussie. It plays the man not the ball. It misses the whole point, being that you can’t call yourself a blogger if you don’t blog, and you don’t blog if you close off comments, because then your blog becomes something other than a blog. Mr Godin’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding, comments are one of the things that define “a blog.”

      There’s a reason we call things by names, it’s so that we can tell them apart from other things. And as KerryJ has pointed out, if you’re consulting in how to do social media and getting paid to consult, then at least make sure you demonstrate that you know the differences and apply them in your own affairs.

      Furthermore, if “the masses” is what you regard your readership as, then you’re also missing the point of blogging. The “masses” is a derogatory term for readership and use of it doesn’t enhance this discussion. It shows that the readership has become secondary to the soapbox.

      And once you’re no longer in it for the readership, you’re in it for yourself, and effectively publishing a diary again.

      teddlesruss’s last blog post..Dealing With Press Releases Fail.

  7. Seriously, I know exactly what Seth means. His attempt at communication can get waylaid by 1 or 2 individuals that go to a c1734 dictionary, look up one of the words used, and then be pedantic about the meaning of the word and thus the meaning of the post. 99.9999 recurring of the audience doesn’t feel the need to do this and will do their best to understand as you have written, yet those annoying individuals remain out there.

    Oh they can be so annoying!111!!!!111!!! and some more 1111s for extra extra emphasis. I understand turning comments off to get rid of them. The problem is that you then lose the interactivity that the rest provide.

  8. Kat, I absolutely understand. And clients have every reason in the book for not engaging. They don’t have time, they are worried about negative comments, they are worried about kooks, they are worried the press will read it, they are worried… and so on.
    But if we are truly to learn how to communicate, to engage, we have to strengthen our stance with those who don’t share our value systems. And walking away from the conversation does not help engagement. Why not go back to a Web 1.0 site, then? If you get my meaning…

  9. Some of the commenters are on the money. A blog without comments is like a diary, a log. On the web. A web log. A ‘blog. The first blog that I know of was a Quake blog in 1996 and it had no comments. I do not think that comments define a blog. And in todays day and age of blog spam, I can understand that people turn off comments to get rid of the problem. Comments do not maketh the blog 🙂

    1. So are you a diarist or a blogger? Because, as you’ve just so aptly tied into a Gordian knot, a blog without comments is, to you, a blog. But also, you say it’s a diary, a log. On the web. You know, a web log. Stop and think about this. We have names for things so we can tell the difference between one thing and another. That’s communication. We’re (supposedly) good at communicating.

      And we’re (supposedly) good at logic. Take a thing, make copies of it, and they are the same, we can give them the same name. Call them fruitflies or mayflies, depending what size wings you put on them. Remove something from it – and by definition it can no longer be the same thing. A fly without wings is a crawl…

      You can have one definition or the other. Or a lesson in logic… %)

      And, I have to go out for dinner and I don’t have a web-connected device so I won’t be able to respond for a bit. I won’t be off in a snit, just incommunicado in a social situation. The kind where we talk to other people and accept their comments and respond to them. In person… %) OMG I’m now a RLblogger!

      teddlesruss’s last blog post..Do Your Pets Have Weird Names?

      1. What’s the difference between an online diary and a blog, and the difference between the mean and the average? Absolutely nothing!

  10. For me, you lost the argument when you told Godin he wasn’t welcome to comment on your blog. That smacks of wanting to take your ball away if the other kids won’t play by your rules.

    He’s chosen to do things his way, without comments, and makes a case for that. You, more conventionally, allow comment. It seems bizarre that the one person you wouldn’t want to comment in this discussion is the person you’ve written about. As a service to readers of this posting alone, it adds to their understanding of the issue. I suspect we won’t be hearing from him any more on these pages.

    How far would that policy extend? You’re only allowed to comment if your blog allows comments? You’re only allowed to comment if you also have a blog? You’re only allowed to comment if you have a blog and it’s on WordPress.org, not WordPress.net?

    You’re starting to sound a bit like that Monty Python debate between the People’s Popular Front of Judea and the Popular People’s Front of Judea…

    Please say you were joking, and weren’t really being that discourteous…


    Tim – mumbrella

    Tim Burrowes’s last blog post..Queensland contemplates crackdown on junk food advertising on kids’ TV

    1. *guilty giggle* Tim, guilty as charged. I was joking. But I was also making the point – we get REALLY frustrated when we can’t leave a comment easily. I’ll accept anyone turning off comments. Newbie to social media, non marketing types, lawyers, even journalists. Anyone EXCEPT an evangelist for reader engagement. Which is the point of this post… gotta walk the walk.

      But honey, I’m surprised at you – the social media evangelist turns off comments, says “too hard” and you, a hardbitten journalist with the scars to prove it, buys into it? Really? tsk *wags finger* Picture this, newbie marketing graduates wanders into Seth’s blog, can’t leave comments, wanders out, heads to a heritage media -oops, mainstream media – blog by a journalist (yourself?) and leaves a comment. Can’t you smell a story in that. MMMMMMMMMMmmmmm. Heh. 😛

  11. While I really appreciate your (Laurel’s) premise, not having comments enabled does not necessarily mean Seth isn’t engaging in conversations. Yes, it very un-blog-like, but if Seth prefers having conversations via email, so be it. It may not be public and entirely private, but who set the rules that all social media conversations need to be public?

    I hate adding my social media related contacts in Facebook while I welcome them to my LinkedIn page and add them up gladly. I do not tweet all day long and do it very occasionally. These are privacy and time-keeping rules that we set for ourselves…Seth’s no-comments thingy sounds like one of these to me. After all, not having comments doesn’t undermine his point of view.

    If I really have something to tell him, I’ll find a way. Having comments would be easy, but this could be his sieve of getting the right people contact him. Less noise, I suppose.

    Karthik S’s last blog post..Social media lessons from 20 favorite Seinfeld scenes!

  12. Great post Laurel, agree with most points, althought you’ve made a few assumptions in there I disagree with, thank god for your comments…

    Tim, whilst reading comments I was wanting to say exactly what you did. It’s your choice to open comments up, and your choice to mark them as spam or not Laurel.

    Laurel, shouldn’t you be blaming the software developers who build these tools that allow you to turn of comments???? If you can turn off comments on a blog then its not mandatory to have comments on a blog, duh?

    Kat I wanted to say exactly that, and I’ve been meaning to write a post about it lately.

    Blogs are in no way related to comments, or social media!!! And anyone who thinks so needs to check themselves! A blog is a web log, a journal of my life. The line between news site and blog are becoming so grey, some allow comments and some don’t but effectively its people writing content of some kind or another. However, a blog is generally less organised and coming form an individual.

    All considered I think Seth has every right to allow/not allow comments, get over it. The fact that we’re all debating what a blog is neither here nor there. ALTHOUGH, I think comments create more traffic and exposure, because they create more good content… So he’s missing out on a clearly fantastic outcome… Clearly he’s thought about that and wants to have comments off… If you really want to, email him, and post his response on your blog.

    Social media is a place where two or more people can connect.

    A blog isn’t social media, by definition, it just becomes that more often that not.

    Laurel, your point around Seth not engaging with the ‘social media’ community is a valid one, he doesn’t connect with people publically… Wait no, he did, on your blog! So he is listening and engaging.

    In fact, I generally recommend clients will get better outcomes through commenting on other blogs rather than creating your own.

    Good post Laurel, 35 comments, nice work.

    Simon T Small’s last blog post..The sky is falling, but cars are sky rocketing!

  13. This is a fantastic post! I have always wondered about Seth’s commitement to his readers and this post somes it up perfectly, as in he has no commitement. Although there is no doubt that Seth is great at marketing himself, he has no regard for others and does not give anything back to his loyal followers because he has turned off comments.

  14. This is a fantastic post! I have always wondered about Seth’s commitement to his readers and this post clarifies it up perfectly, as in he has no commitement. Although there is no doubt that Seth is great at marketing himself, he has no regard for others and does not give anything back to his loyal followers because he has turned off comments.

  15. @simon, I always try to find the inner meaning to words. Is a blog really just a diary online? A tool… or a channel? How is that different from web 1.0 dreamweaver sites? Is social network marketing ‘viral videos’ and social media anything that engages others. If it doesn’t allow others to ‘socialize’ the content, is it social media? Because it’s easy to confuse the technical tools with the richness of the media itself.

    @simon, think american dates 🙂 we are what we do online Debate does not equal trolling. Only those sensitive – or egotistical – souls who can’t cope with debate, see it as trolling. I know the difference. 😛

    For background, examining dine-in vs take out networks helps clients make decisions about handing over their brand to others blogs. here.
    How do I feel about the top blogs being written by many authors? social media proprietors post

    @peter so good you had to say it twice, hmmm 😛

  16. @laurel Social media is a place where two or more people can connect… ha, sorry to repeat, but its key i.e. word of mouth (person to person recommendations) is social media 1.0. Its all about the content.

    Social marketing is using this channel to communicate to your target by using tactics like PR, word-of-mouth, a blog, a stunt, an event, whatever gets your message out through social media.

    To practice social media marketing or use social media in your marketing, you don’t need to participate directly, although thats the obvious approach, you can give a blogger something to write about, or make a competition where the entrants can promote it however they like, and they might use social media.

    PS I advoate for my clients to let go of their brand, because its already out of their control, hence the name of my blog…

    Its midnight on Sunday, I better get some shuteye!

    Simon T Small’s last blog post..The sky is falling, but cars are sky rocketing!

  17. This has been quite entertaining. Read every comment. Now, what I want to know is this: Am I fooling myself by rss-ing Seth’s so-called blog?

    Here I thought I knew my rss from my elbow, maybe I mis-judged.

    What about ‘Tribes’?! Geez, I just blogged about the thing yesterday, having read it recently!

    Struggling to come to grips with all of this, while in the midst of 30DC, I can only say one thing, if I dare. Al of this social (or anti-social?) networking has lead to me searching for and finding a few staunch friend/colleagues who have invested substantial time and energy in joint projects. That is the whole idea, at least on one level.

    Having accomplished this magnificent feat (must have a great idea for a joint project, doh!) the next big step will be to use the before-mentioned social networking to reach out to the global community, one quality person at a time…just like in any other business at any other time in history…to form healthy, honest relationships that are symbiotic.

    Poo poo that!

    Michael Gaudet’s last blog post..TV feed of Skyaak debut in from Z Tele!

  18. Laurel, oh yeah, got a bit off topic there. Comments. That’s a tough nut to crack. It was very interesting to hear Simon say “In fact, I generally recommend clients will get better outcomes through commenting on other blogs rather than creating your own.”
    Wow! That would sure make life a lot easier.
    Never thought of that.
    But I enJOY (emphasis on JOY) blogging, and encourage…in fact solicit…comments.
    You have to be a real up-there genius writer to spark the comment wire, that’s for sure.
    Therefore I will be emulating your irreverent, hard-ass style, Laurel.
    Good work!

    Michael Gaudet’s last blog post..TV feed of Skyaak debut in from Z Tele!

  19. This has been an interesting discussion and I had forgotten about Seth’s blog when I put together the initial list for my “Friends of Dave” feed on Twitter, FriendFeed and Identi.ca.

    Here’s the Twitter feed.


    My philosophy is that I’m happy to learn new stuff any time, from any one, even if I think their ideas and manners are unsupportable.

    Thank you.

    Dave Winer’s last blog post..A URL Czar for Google?

  20. Apologies firstly for not reading the whole post, or even most of the comments, something which may preclude this comment being taken seriously.

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but don’t people use their own blogs to comment on other people and their blogs? If there is a rule book for the intertubes, where does it say I must have comments turned on for my blog?

    Everyone has different needs, and uses for their blog. Yours is to host comment on your discussion of bloggers that don’t in this case.

  21. Hey Brett, actually the discussion is less about whether you should or should not have comments on your blog. I gave some examples of when a company or individual could feasibly turn off comments, especially to get started in social media.

    It is more to do with social media engagement ‘experts’ bowing out of engagement. Specifically experts that evangelise engagement to newbies, then step back themselves. I propose that having a blog, turning off comments, watching Google Alerts for negative posts about you/your brand, swanning in, saying “oh don’t be mean, please be positive” then swanning back out is not engagement. Well, it is the start of engagement, but it should be developed from there. Some commenters choose to differ 🙂

    I’m glad I have comments turned on, the discussion has been invigorating, the debate (mostly) with people like me who are sharpening their principles and beliefs on what does and does not constiture engagement.

    @simon you might like New Digital Media is not Social Media I try to differentiate between agency created content to be seeded virally into social networks (social network marketing) vs social media (user generated content, not host/agency/MSM created content) being passed around and discussed.

  22. Top Twitterers, Top bloggers who don’t respond on comments. All the same. YouTube channels with comments disabled. All using social media sites as traditional broadcast channels. @stephenfry is similar. Lots of me me me tweets, no responses to anyone else. You can be a Top Twit or a Top Blogger, or a Top Content Creator of any kind, and still be lousy at engagement.

    Y’know, for some reason I was thinking of Pink Floyd’s THE WALL. The wall between musician and audience…

      1. Obama used Twitter as a broadcast media channel and I don’t see anything wrong with that. Answering a portion of the comments would have pleased few and disppointed many; answering all the comments was not a logistical option. Twitter was not the right medium for Obama to hold a conversation, he instead used it to his best advantage and created other mediums for engagement. Clever marketers know they can’t engage anyone, any time, on any terms, Seth Godin and Barack Obama are clever marketers.

        Matt Granfield’s last blog post..Online Influencers: What Can a Bank do With Theirs?

  23. skribe, Laurel et al,

    What does “engage” supposed to mean here?

    Wikipedia says of Engagement (marketing): Engagement measures the extent to which a consumer has a meaningful brand experience when exposed to commercial advertising, sponsorship, television contact, or other experience.

    If blogging (or posting information to the web) falls under “other experience” then I guess Godin has been successfully engaging consumers for years. They read his blog is vast number and order his books, all helping him make a good living.

    Craig Wilson’s last blog post..The Official Rules of Blogging?

    1. In terms of twitter: involved in the conversation. All Obama did was broadcast – use twitter for press releases. That’s not engagement. That’s the twitterversion of control media. Even @kevinruddpm does better than that.

      skribe’s last blog post..Canterbury Tales: WoW version

  24. Oh, I think the days of being broadcast at, one direction and calling it engagement are over, aren’t they?

    Most of this stuff is still being run by old marketing guys calling anything they dump out one way “social media”. If the social network is simply being broadcast at, it ain’t social.

    I think Obama did a great job of social network marketing – pushing out his fundraising widgets etc into communities. But it won’t work in 4 years time. Way too one sided.

    And I agree skribe, @turnbullmalcolm is an excellent example of a senior politian engaging on Twitter. Casual, not to every tweet, not by a long shot, but still, the occasional chat. I never did care for Kevin08 or later versions of our prime ministers site post here Simply using social bookmarking, YouTube, Flickr and so on to push out, but ignoring comments or turning them off, is really noticeable, once the hype has died down.

    A really brilliant example of handling large fanbase, is Joss Whedon. Rarely posting, you always got the feeling his advisors were reading. And then every so often, bam! a hat tip in the TV shows or other nod to the online community. The forums would go beserk 🙂 So much better than years of being marketed at and ignored in turn.

  25. Mmm I’m with the good guys here. %) (That’s spin-doctoring.) “Engagement” is not “shoving stuff down people’s throats.” Which is what turning comments off amounts to.

    The real reason to turn comments off is laziness. Public figures and companies want to appear to be social-media savvy and get “one of them viral thingos while we’re at it” but they don’t actually want to invest anything in the process. As Laurel has pointed out, that’s kind of 90’s.

    But wait, and those people teaching this new wave of social media marketing will come up with Marketing 3.0 – it’s as simple as Marketing 1.0 but now with more colours! And no more pesky updating or having to worry about feedback – there’s simply Good Old Fashioned HTML. And if you buy M3.0 this week, we’ll throw in a dozen / tags for free! %)

    teddlesruss’s last blog post..Do Your Pets Have Weird Names?

  26. Really interesting conversation you’ve created Laurel. I’ve held off commenting until I could give it full consideration, and find myself agreeing with both you and Seth on the issues raised here.

    For Seth, his approach works for him. He has established himself, provided value to the community (his blog, free ebook, free audiobook downloads) and delivered advice that many find worth their attention and application. As Mark Drapeau wrote more succinctly above, Seth is engaged, as demonstrated by his comment above, and his methodology works for him.

    For you, well I would have to agree that when evaluating the expertise of a “social media expert” (who are generally self-proclaimed), it is important to see demonstration of their ability to advise and execute, and that often is established by their own presence on online (social) networks and the adoption of interactive tools and techniques in how they communicate online.

    Taking Seth at his word that there is no underlying Google-juice conspiracy at play in his approach, then it’s more important that you demonstrate how this “engagement” strategy works well, for whom and how. Use examples of how it has been employed to the benefit of a company (i.e. Zappos, Comcast, Dell) and situations where it would have created value (i.e. Motrin [maybe], Belkin, Walmart). Linkbaiting is just as bad as Google-juice hijacking. Oh, and a discussion on semantics pales in comparison to one about underlying theory and concepts any day.

  27. If only so I can make the point of leaving a comment, I’m mostly with Laurel on this one. Firstly, you have the right to using blogging software (or software that blogs) in whatever way you see fit. But a blog without comments tells me that the blogger isn’t really interesting in having a conversation, so excuse me if I don’t hang around. Read more over at http://chieftech.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-blogging-manifesto.html

    James Dellow’s last blog post..Wait, we’ve got a pulse – Enterprise RSS

  28. Nice discussion. Personally I find blogs without commenting capability irritating. That said I am all for people putting out their stand in a way that works for them. There is nothing wrong with linking and commenting in a post on your own blog or even on Facebook. Likely if you link they may come and take a look and perhaps engage.

    Colin Campbell’s last blog post..Modest Obama Celebration in San Francsico

    1. @Colin I think the hard thing is to find what works for us. That is why we need social media experts 😛 But would you hire a social media expert to advise you on engagement if they had comments turned off on their blog? We’re not talking about mums putting up fotos for a closed blog for the family here, but an “online social media engagement” expert. What if that expert freely admittedly that he doesn’t like engagement, that it might change the way he thinks about a matter? After all engagement is not just “thanks for your input, it’s been passed along”.

      There’s very few hard and fast rules for social media and what works for one organisation or personality may not work for another. But whatever decision we take reflects back on us.

      @Marc your last comment goes to the heart of the matter. A site without comments is simply press releases no? And Web 2.0 can both cover technology and social. In other words, a blog can be technological (easy to update a web page online) or social (engagement). Semantics vs underlying assumptions. I’m pretty sure that AdAge is thinking social not technology.

      1. Laura, a website with updating content — that may be in long or short form — without comments is a media site. Which is what Seth Godin has. A media site where he posts his thoughts, as opposed to writing for Slate or Salon or AdAge. Call it a blog, don’t call it a blog, not the issue. If the ideas are worthy, then thanks for sharing.

        Marc Vermut’s last blog post..mvermut: Why it’s not the fact of the blog but the act of the blogging that matters http://tinyurl.com/8qj3n9 (via @kathySierra)

        1. … is it engagement (two way) or is it broadcast (one way)?
          If we settle for companies setting up YouTube channels with comments off, politicians with blogs without comments, are we doing the next generation a disservice? Would you take advice on engagement from someone who can’t cope with comments? If so, why? (and please don’t say “because he is successful in traditional (books) marketing channels).

  29. Very interesting – aren’t comment sections fun on blogs?

    I wasn’t going to comment – I disagree with most of what you say. I am quite over any of these “rules” on social media right now – it’s getting very dull. I couldn’t be arsed to write anything only to have you tsk tsk me and wag a virtual finger like I was a naughty school kid who doesn’t understand the consequences of my rash and immature beliefs around social media. But then I read “@stephenfry is similar. Lots of me me me tweets, no responses to anyone else.” WRONG

    I must defend Mr Fry. He retweets, he replies, he posts links to followers blogs, he’s just run a little competition, he ENTERTAINS. He even DM’d me when I asked about a play he was seeing in Sydney – a DM that I was quite chuffed to receive.

    So, unlike many of the upper-echelons of the SM league of super-heroes, he connects not just with his chummy “SM expert” buddies, but all his followers.

    So you see, the people that you judge to be all ME ME ME aren’t actually that way. They may be connecting with people face to face, or via email, or just via a way that doesn’t fit the “old skool” rule book. I appreciate that you and others played a great hand in helping write that book – you are the people who helped pioneer this medium of communication.

    But it’s getting bigger now, more people are playing – there are no rules. Communication is communication – whether it’s the way you define it or not.

    (and for christ sake – a blog without comments is still a blog – it just has no comments)

    1. I wish people would read the post.

      Anyone can turn off comments on a blog, fine by me. A family wanting to share fotos, privately? Fine. A personal diary for friends? cool.

      But a social media strategist claiming commitment to engagement? No. I’m not buying a Mercedes from the salesman that personally drives a BMW – he can’t sell it to me.

      Stephen Fry said he doesn’t DM (on his blog about his use of Twitter) and he had pages of Twitter with no @replies when I looked. I called it as I saw it. Anyway, Stephen isn’t a social media strategist. He can use social media any damn way he wants (but not necessarily call it engagement).

      When a client calls and says s/he has turned off comments on YouTube promotional videos, the corporate blog, and so on, yet are adamant they want to be “engaged” be sure to give them one of Seth’s books.

      Feel free to tell me the difference between a pushonly broadcast message website and a blog with comments turned off. And don’t mention technology. The reader won’t know the platform being used.

  30. “But a social media strategist claiming commitment to engagement? No. I’m not buying a Mercedes from the salesman that personally drives a BMW – he can’t sell it to me.”

    Ahhh, but that’s the thing. He can sell it to others and they are buying! Isn’t that frustrating!?

    Guess it’s a “push only broadcast message website” if you feel a comment section in a blog is the only way to have a two way conversation. A blog comment section is not the only way to have a conversation with someone.

    I think you nailed it when you said “he can use social media anyway he wants” – you just need to expand that to everyone can use social media anyway they want – the folks sharing the piccies of the grandkids right up to the social media strategist recording his thoughts. There are NO right or wrong ways to do this stuff. There is no rule book. You have your way of doing things. Everyone has their own way of doing things.

    And I read the post. See, knew I’d get a tsk-tsk-ing from you.

    1. ha!
      I guess I am frustrated with this “oh you can do anything on the ‘net with no repercussions” that seems to be sweeping the blogosphere at the moment.

      BTW I think Seth is brilliant – at traditional marketing. Particularly that old fashioned ‘book’ thing 😉

      I’m not really tsk tsk’ing you. I’m simply asking you to be more discerning. In particular, consider what will happen if every company that doesn’t want to handle comments, or be changed by comments, turns comments off. Is that the blogosphere that you envision for the future?

      I happen to think that brands that have a blog with comments turned off, who respond to Google Alerts on negative comment about themselves on the ‘net but otherwise only engage with “top” bloggers, and who do everything else via email or feedback forms, actually suck at engagement. When will we stop seeing “viral funny ads” as social media and push-sites as engagement, I wonder?

    2. Kelly,

      I agree with you that is no right or wrong way to do these things, but there are good and bad ways to do them. Just as there are good and bad ways to do customer service. Alienating customers might be accepted industry practise for one organisation but a complete disaster for another. There are always consequences, it’s whether you can live with them that’s important.

      Laurel, I think I’d be inclined to ask any client of mine that wanted to turn off comments whether they were looking at a solution that allowed them to engage with their customers, clients or whatever or to just give the appearance that they were engaging. Sometimes it appears that it’s just a PR exercise to look like they’re staying current. Is that too cynical? =)


      skribe’s last blog post..Her Morning Elegance

      1. Absolutely not too cynical. In the Middle East and some countries in Asia, I’ve advised clients to selectively turn on comments, or turn on pre-moderation. Engagement can be a matter of levels, not just on and off. But companies aren’t social media strategists. i.e. if a company takes babysteps, they won’t win any awards for engagement but at least they are on their way, right? If a renowned “social media strategist” takes baby steps, one has to question why. And selling a truckload of books doesn’t exempt anyone from that questioning, does it?

  31. A blog without comments is like having fish and chips without salt and vinegar, it just doesn’t work. The whole point in a blog is get people interacting with each other and bouncing off each others comments.

  32. Apologies for lateness / always love a roasting.

    Seth is a great conference presenter and it’s great that he popped over to make a comment on your blog.

    Marc Andreessen turned off the comments on his blog a while back and eventually went on a break from which he has yet to return.

    Providing a launchpad for (453,962 social networks on Ning to date) social networks can keep a chap busy and quite engaged.

    I’m pretty sure Mark Cuban turned off comments for a while but happily that didn’t last long and now he is on WordPress so managing the spa is a bit easier.

    Now Chris Andersen of long tail fame went one step further. See http://www.longtail.com/the_long_tail/2007/10/sorry-pr-people.html

    That is a list of the email addresses of people he wouldn’t deal with at that time.

    All of this cross media fracas is an opportunity to learn by trying out a few ideas. No one gets it right all the time.

    And that is what makes it fun.

    For the record I think everyone is right. Its their party and they can cry if they want to but comments are part of the spice.

    You have a great blog and I’ll be turning in on a regular basis from now on. ( @dialogCRM )

    Jason Kemp’s last blog post..Creating Value on Twitter

    1. aye but what about the tonne of celebrity bloggers that actually care about what their audience thinks? Kawasaki responds to comments no?
      BTW Seth is notorious for popping in when it’s a negative comment about himself, so he can look good, but he doesn’t otherwise bother. This is not the first time Seth has responded to criticism on my blog…

      In other words: consider a company that turns off comments on their blog, their YouTube channel, and remove their Facebook discussion forum, then refuse to follow anyone back on Twitter. Then they monitor the ‘net and show up “to engage” when they want to put out a potential firestorm of negative comments. And when asked if they are truly “engaging” they say “well, it’s what Social Media Expert, Seth Godin does”.

      This isn’t about personal use. I don’t care what Joe Public does with their blog, lock it down completely for all I care. It’s about Preachers of Engagement not actually engaging – by being “too busy” or “don’t want to have their opinion changed”. That is not Engagement and never will be. Ever.

      I know about Marc and Chris. There are also a list of people I won’t engage with – engagement does not mean setting oneself up for ongoing punishment. But nor does it mean shutting down completely.

      But YOU are welcome on here, anytime 😛

  33. Thank you. Just been having a bit of fun with the #microsoft hashtag. It RT’s all mentions of microsoft which is funny at first / like shooting fish n a barrel and teaching a parrot to talk but really…

    Its 12;15am here and I gotta crash for a few ours.

    So comments are great but also even better if they don’t just keep circling the same wagons.

    Should also say that anti spam technology has got way better n the last two years esp. and manages to stop thousands of spam comments from bots.

    I have a few old posts from 2 or 3 years back that still get huge traffic each week but turned off the comments a while back before the spam systems improved.Might review that policy but then again many of those posts were snapshots of the time and I’d rewrite in an instant if revisiting those topics today.

    Jason Kemp’s last blog post..Creating Value on Twitter

  34. This is very fantastic and informative post!
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