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There are Comments & Then There are Comments


People don’t always comment

After a few years of having a business blog I have some observations and opinions about comments. The great thing about my blogs, is that people can comment and I can have a conversation with my readers. I have learned though that those conversations are not essential when it comes to accomplishing my goal, which is to meet the people who live inside my computer who are looking for me because they need to buy or sell a home.

I have two closing on Thursday from people that met me through my blog and neither client ever left a comment. One couple has been reading the blog for about a year, the other client saw the blog and recognized pictures of her own neighborhood. She contacted me and it turns out that she lives so close I can almost see her apartment from my back porch. In fact out of the thousands of comments on my business blog I am guessing that less than 50 were from clients.

Not all comments are equal

We all know about comment spam. The people that leave comments just so they can get a link. I usually delete those. There is a kind of comment that can be worse. The comments from other Realtors. Occasionally they add to the conversation but in most cases they too want a link, they are just a little less obvious about it than the spam commenters.

When consumers, my potential clients see a lot of comments from Realtors on my blog they assume that the blog is for Realtors. Sometimes they see an entire conversation among Realtors and they figure it isn’t for them and they stay out of it.

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We are being taught some questionable blogging practices

I have read some articles written by coaches experts on blogs, and online social networking encouraging real estate agents to join the blog web sites with all the real estate blogs on them or to hook up with other agents on social networks.

We are also encouraged to comment on each others posts while at the same time we are encouraged to write for consumers so we can win business. In my experience we can’t do both with the same blog, which is why I have more than one blog and why I write on agent genius.

Endless conversations amongst ourselves

I am as social as the next person but from a business point of view I don’t see the value of getting or receiving comments on my business blog from other agents. I love to tweet on twitter but other than my own enjoyment there is no value to being connected with hundred’s of other Realtors. Sure I might get a referral once in a while but that doesn’t pay the bills. The people who pay the bills are on the internet but they live in my community and they belong to various social networks, and none of those networks are centered around Realtors or real estate.

No Comment

Real estate bloggers who have business blogs that they use to meet people the way that I do should consider comments a bonus. They really are not essential to the success of the blog. Some of the articles I have in my blog that have gotten the most traffic and have been responsible for brining in business have no comments on them.

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Written By

Full time REALTOR and licensed broker with Saint Paul Home Realty Realty in St. Paul, Minnesota. Author of StPaulRealEstateBlog.com, Columnist for Inman News and an avid photographer.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Jeremy Hart

    July 15, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    Great post! Nice job! I couldn’t agree more!

    Wait, was I not supposed to comment? DOH

  2. Brad Nix

    July 15, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Nice post.

    Great job!

  3. Matthew Rathbun

    July 15, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    T:

    This is one of those things that is “unspoken” in RE.net. When I was a practicing Broker and before going into education full time, I thought it was rude to comment on another agents blog; unless the post was specifically to re agents.

    I was not happy (and assumed nafarious) intent when other agents commented on my business blog, as well. Thus, I created a industry blog.

    Great points, and one of these days we’re going to get the likes of you, Jay, Russell, Benn, et al to write a Rules of Civility for RE Bloggers!

  4. teresa boardman

    July 15, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Thanks, great comments. 🙂

    Mathew – some of the agents who comment do add value and add to the conversation, especially when they comment on market conditions and mention how things are in their areas. I think that information is useful to my readers I love it when they disagree with me too because that can really start an interesting conversation. . The good job, great post, nice picture, thanks for sharing stuff is what has got to go.

  5. NikNik

    July 15, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    Nice post!

    Great job!

    Good talk!

  6. Todd

    July 15, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I wonder if discounting the worth of all agent’s comments on your business blog is a bit severe.

    If your business blog is solely for your home-owner customers and all fellow real estate agents are banned from participating ( commenting ), doesn’t that violate the spirit of what blogging is about ( Free, meaningful, open communication for all )?

    If I play the part of the homeowner / reader and come across an agent’s blog with “OTHER AGENT KEEP OUT!” as its warning sign, I would instantly wonder why the compartmentalization? Why such an anti-social tone toward fellow professionals?

    There are plenty of technologies to manage abusive comment spammers and trolls ( Dries Buytaert’s new Mollom technology immediately comes to mind ) but I would be concerned to see a new trend develop between blogger agents where they all exclude each other in some kind of localism.com-esque “land grab”, or “blog protectionism racket”

  7. Bill Lublin

    July 15, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    TBOARD You are the example for the social media class I’m teaching – Great post! 😉

  8. Julie Emery

    July 15, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    I don’t really like to discourage my fellow agents from commenting on my blog. A fair number of them have actually referred their clients to blog entries I’ve written, say, to convince them to lower the price or get their home in better showing condition.

    If they take over the comments, that’s a problem. But so far it’s all good!

    Maybe I’m naive but I actually believe some of my fellow agents think they’re doing me a good turn by commenting on my posts. Given the number of people who leave this profession every day, who’s to say they’re wrong!

    (It’a also possible none of the agents who post comments on my blog have websites or blogs.)

  9. Rich Jacobson

    July 15, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    At first, I was going to comment, but then I hesitated, cuz’ I figured I wasn’t supposed to. Then, I reconsidered, and figured, what the heck, this isn’t her business blog, right? But then, I deleted it, for fear that my comment might keep potential clients from stopping by. But then, if I don’t comment, you might think I’m stuck up or something

  10. Carson Coots

    July 15, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    My friend emailed me your site and I read through many of your articles… Good information, I will be adding it to my feed reader.

  11. Eric Blackwell

    July 15, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    T. – While i think you make some great points, my personal view is that I divide real estate blogs into two camps: customer facing and industry facing. Industry facing blogs (this one, for example) are important. As individual entrepreneurs, they are a far better way of learning by debating about our business and of sharing ideas and insights.

    Customer facing blogs are meant to engage the customer – they (IMHO) are locally focused, or niche focused and the blogversations there should (also MHO) not include a guy from Louisville if you are doing a blog about St Paul…unless you write about something of national importance or of something relevant to me.

    I think the toughest time that we have sometimes is straddling that line. I try to have different blogs–one on one side of the fence and one on the other…

    Just my approach.I think it is VERY difficult to serve two masters (so to speak)

    Best;

    Eric

  12. Eric Blackwell

    July 15, 2008 at 4:27 pm

    So now you know WHY I read your blog regularly…and have yet to comment much at all. I think there are some great things to be gained from reading customer facing blogs and not commenting or best of all commenting ABOUT them on a place like here.

    Eric

  13. Holly White

    July 15, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Still trying to figure out where people find the time to write blogs AND comment on a plethora of other blog sites like this one. I am trying to run a website, manage a team, sell real estate, blog and comment on others blogs, and I am finding that there is not enough time in the day to do it all. I have a separate category for Realtors so that anything I write about industry related goes into that category (which isn’t much, ie. “time”). I figured if a consumer wants to read about the Realtor talk going on they can, and if they want to participate, they can, but if they just want to learn about things going on around town or talk about our market particularly they can just view the other categories. I would start another blog just for Realtor talk, but personally I have to draw the line somewhere from a time perspective.

  14. Eric Blackwell

    July 15, 2008 at 5:20 pm

    @Holly;

    Dividing it up into categories works too… I can totally understand the issue with time. I think that is a common issue for many of us.

    Best;

    Eric

  15. ines

    July 15, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    It takes some of us a little longer T 😉 – we were discussing this very thing a couple of days ago and the value of those particular comments. I have noticed that some consumers are more prone to comment if they see another comment there (and they are not the first). So it may not be all that bad.

  16. Todd Carpenter

    July 15, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Todd said>>>”If your business blog is solely for your home-owner customers and all fellow real estate agents are banned from participating ( commenting ), doesn’t that violate the spirit of what blogging is about ( Free, meaningful, open communication for all )?”

    Whoever said that was the spirit of what blog’s are all about? Some of the best blogs don’t allow any comments at all. I don’t know of even one blog that I read because of the comments.

  17. Melina Tomson

    July 15, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    Maybe it’s just me, but I find those kinds of comments helpful because they tell me something about the agent that leaves them. If an agent constantly writes GPTFS (great post thanks for sharing), then I know it’s probably not someone I would want to refer business to.

    I get to “meet” so many great agents online in forums that I have a nice list of people that seem to really know their stuff. I guess comments like that help me to eliminate someone from my list.

  18. Frank Jewett

    July 15, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Rich, it depends on whether you’re posting as Rich Jacobson or ActiveRich. I gotta believe ActiveRich sees more value in peer-2-peer communications than merely staving off loneliness. Of course Teresa does too, or she wouldn’t be here, right?

    I’m a firm believer in peer-2-peer, some of my best friends are independent brokers, but the key to getting more business is devoting most of your blogging time to a consumer facing blog.

    As for comments, fewer than 5% of all talk radio listeners will ever call the show, so you can’t judge the size of the audience (or the value of the blog) by the visible feedback.

    In some respects the comment overload at AR due to the points system leads members astray because they focus on peer-2-peer. It’s the same theory as hanging around the office talking to sympathetic agents instead of walking the neighborhood and risking rejection.

  19. teresa boardman

    July 15, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    Todd – I have been dealing with the issue of “the spirit of blogging” I have left comments that I should not have, now I delete them. There are just two many people who want a link. I actually value the comments of some of my peers they add to the conversation. I have no intention of banning anyone, but I have been deleting some of the “nice post” comments with the advertising in the comment.

    Frank – I think you get what I am saying. of course I love peer 2 peer communication or I would not be here writing, an I would not have the real estate weenie. I just don’t think we can have it both ways, socializing with peers and blogging for consumers on the same blog.

    Eric – I agree there are two basic types of blogs in our industry. So to all I say this is where the peer 2 peer comments belong. It is OK to leave comments on my business blog if they are related to the topic on the blog, they do add value. But if you want to socialize you can easily find me all over the internet, and I am very social. i know many agent from all over the country and consider them friends and enjoy the interaction very much. Not anti social, just trying to give consumers a chance to speak up.

  20. Mack in Atlanta

    July 15, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Nice Post. Sorry I couldn’t resist.

  21. Joe Zekas

    July 15, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Teresa,

    Think of the Realtor comments on your consumer-facing blog as extremely valuable feedback in the following sense.

    If you’re getting a lot of Realtor comments on a post, that post either 1) isn’t speaking to the consumer or 2) isn’t speaking to a targeted, local buyer / seller consumer you want to reach. You are targeting a reasonably defined geographic or niche area, aren’t you?

    It’s easy to lose focus on a blog, and difficult to tell when you have. The volume of Realtor comments is a simple feedback mechanism to help determine when you’ve lost focus.

    Test out that proposition and see if it proves true on your blog.

  22. Paula Henry

    July 15, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    T- I know exactly what you are saying – a year or so ago, it seemed everyone just went around and commented to get a link or for extra Google juice. I was one of those who thought that’s what we should do. People were changing their name to Indianapolis Real Estate, or St Paul Real Estate for example for the juice. It was so apparent and many a blog was written about how “uncool” it was. In the big scheme of things, I think there were too many newbies who didn’t know what they should or should not be doing.

    I don’t see it as often and no longer get those type of comments. I would much rather see my stats which says the same people are visiting my site time and again. I do value my peers input and always welcome a discussion.

  23. Karen Goodman

    July 15, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    It’s refreshing to see my point of view in print.

    I’ve been spending a lot of time over the last 8 months reading industry blogs as I learn about this new tool I’ve been using. I started my consumer focused blog in November and have no page rank yet on Google. I have about 30 unique visitors a day and I’ve already gotten a few clients from the website & blog. Much of my traffic comes from Yahoo searches on ‘St.Louis homes for sale’ and Google for specific posts.

    I know that my stats are really low compared what all the big bloggers report, and apparently all anyone out here cares about is Google. But there are plenty of consumers searching on other search engines. And if I only have 30 visitors a day but a couple a month contact me…and I’ve only been doing this for less than a year, I must be doing something right.

    I know my blog isn’t fancy and doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, and almost no comments, but my readers aren’t into reading blogs. They are just people looking for some real estate info and want to search for homes. They think my simple site is just great and don’t realize that many people gauge a blog’s success by the number of comments.

  24. Laura Cannon

    July 15, 2008 at 11:15 pm

    Wow! This entry surprises me a little. My initial response is, gee what a high class problem to have: too many comments, not the right kind of comments, etc.. I don’t want to be contentious, but this complaint sounds a little like famous people expressing concern about the “burdens” of fame. It is hard to empathize.

    I have left comments on fellow Realtors blogs simply because I enjoyed their post. I don’t really see it as having any “link” effect on my blog. Google rankings is more complex than that.

    Furthermore, I don’t think that the internet community shares this sense that potential clients or customers are supposed to comment, but not colleagues. For example, on technical sites, it is completely customary for colleagues to contribute to each other’s blog if only to say ” I enjoyed this post, thanks!” In fact, in the early days of blogging, such comments were very much appreciated and not at all discouraged. See, for example, the technical exchanges on wordpress.org blogs.

    I think it is a little cynical to assume that a simple compliment like “great post” is an attempt to get a link. I, for one, just left a similar post and do not see it as contributing to my rankings, link authority, etc..

    Not all blogging and commenting is about getting a competitive edge. Sometimes, it is simply about connecting across the net in a simple, unsophisticated manner.

  25. Chuck G

    July 16, 2008 at 7:49 am

    I guess I don’t totally agree with your take on comments, perhaps because I don’t get comments from other agents on my blog. I cherish the comments from my readers, because they’re a phenomenal gauge on the relevance of what I am writing. If a reader is compelled to click the “comment” tab and lay there opinion (and email) out there, whether they agree with me or not, I have clearly touched a nerve with what I have written or have hit on a topic that is very important them. This is priceless feedback, and has really shaped the direction my blog has taken.

    We all try to be creative on topics we choose for our blogs, rather than just being a regurgitation of the news. Being creative has some inherent risks, so it’s nice to get an occasional “great post” comment from the readers (and even other agents!)

    Chuck

  26. teresa boardman

    July 16, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Chuck – any and all comments from my intended audience are more than welcome and I learn from them. I learn from my peers by posting here on agent genius. My peers are the readers of this blog.

  27. Eric Blackwell

    July 16, 2008 at 8:53 am

    @Laura- I can understand how you think it is a high class problem to have…and I agree that there are bloggers out there who are just commenting to connect with folks. That having been said, I think there is a large percentage of “great post” and etc comments that are nothing but spam.

    One way (the best IMO) to connect with a blogger on there local blog is to try to find a post to comment on where you can ADD something to the discussion. Bring some additional local flavor to the party and you will find almost instant common ground with that blogger.

    Many bloggers have the problem of struggling to keep what they have posted about on track and relevant. Even taking the time to detail WHAT you thought was great would raise the bar significantly.

    Cannot speak for T, and wouldn’t…but I don’t think she would want to be considered snooty for trying to lessen the load of these types of comments in her blog…

    Best

    Eric

  28. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 16, 2008 at 9:27 am

    Agreed wholeheartedly that its very difficult to appeal to all persons with just 1 site. Having 1 blog for customers, and another for peers seems to be the best way IMO to help focus your site to a specific target audience. Theres the old saying: Jack of all trades, master of none.

    However, as far the value of not giving or receiving comments from other agents – I think it really depends. I’ve met and created relationships online with some peers that I wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to communicate with. And what did I get out of it: I’ve LEARNED things. Getting other points of view is great for brain storming and gets you thinking that you many not have otherwise normally considered. They’ve kept an eye out for me and kept me up to speed to the latest real estate news – which in turn translates to me being more professional in dealing with customers. So, I do find value in CONSTRUCTIVE and SINCERE commenting activity with other real estate agents. That being said: are there a lot of spammers of the “nice post” mentality? Sure, absolutely. But if I can find a diamond by digging through a little trash, to me its worth it.

  29. Bob

    July 16, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    Many agents comment solely for links. Depending on the comment, a link may be a fair trade. It is pretty easy to identify the drive by commenter, so i just selectively no follow those comments. if they are blatantly trying to stealn traffic, then I’ll simply edit the link. That tends to put an end to others who are merely link spamming. Most consumers who comment don’t drop urls.

  30. Larry Yatkowsky

    July 16, 2008 at 3:42 pm

    Question is, are no comments a comment?

  31. teresa boardman

    July 16, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Larry – no comments doesn’t mean much accept that the readers did not comment, it could be because they found the post through google and just read it because it was the information they were looking for, it could mean they don’t know how to comment, it could mean that they don’t comment. I don’t no that there is any significant meaning except on a blog like this I would say that a post with no comments does make a comment.

  32. Jeff Manson

    July 17, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    You make some valid points. There are several reasons why an agent would leave a comment. 1. Get a link. 2. They are actually trying to add to the conversation. 3. They are trying to look smart. The worst one of all is the agent that thinks they are smart and really do not have a clue and should not be allowed to be in the business. The ones that give us all a bad name. Which one are you?

  33. Hullabaloo

    July 26, 2008 at 12:18 am

    And then there are the people that pay to post phony articles with their website addresses in blogs all over the internet just to boost their search engine positions. Those articles don’t get many comments, do they? It’s called a spam blog, or splog. Not exactly fair play, Mr. Manson.

  34. Julie

    August 19, 2008 at 2:07 am

    “Great post! I love your site design, I bookmarked it to come back later!”

    Look familiar?

    I get so many spam comments like that on some of my blogs, its unbelievable.

    Akismet does nuke quite a few before I ever see them though…

  35. Steve Simon

    August 29, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Opening your blog for comments is a good thing and a bad thing as any one with a blog will tell you.
    What you may not know is the rel=”nofollow” tag story. I will not go into it here but before you decide on comments or no comments you might what to read up on the nofollow, dofollow link choices that are available for your blog (in wordpress there are dozens of plugins that allow you to set nofollow or release the robots to follow all, or decide on a post comment by comment basis).
    Without knowing a little about this subject you open your site to a level of risk.
    An html link in a comment without a nofollow tag is a sign thatyou as the owner of the site are vouching for the person or entity that left the comment and link. You had better know where the link goes to, and who left the comment.
    I allow comments but I scrutinize each before approval, and I nofollow the links.
    The people that think these link backs help in SERP are so far off that a discussion of this in and of itself is stupid. There is no meaningful “Juice” created by leaving a hyper link on someones blog. Unless it is a very highly rated blog, and it is relevent to your field, and the blog is allowing the Googlebot to follow.
    Ninety percent of blogs (not all!) are wordpress and the default for most recent versions is nofollow.
    So the purpose should be (in leaving a comment) to generate a thought provoking level in the author’s and other readers minds (and maybe a little traffic back from those who will investigate you after reading the comment).
    But for SERP, I’d forget it…

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