In my last post about what I consider to be cornerstones of blogging, I mentioned interacting with the community and soliciting direct and immediate feedback. I took Seth Godin to task for not allowing comments on his blog (as did many other bloggers out there). I felt that by doing so he was shutting down the conversation and not practising what he preached. I am a firm believer in open conversation and the ability to riff off each other in the comments and create a greater extension of your initial post. That’s one of the beautiful things about blogs.
However, I should have taken a bit of time to think about the larger issues of “what constitutes engagement” and is there only “one right way” to do so; I was mistaken about how he engaged the community. Seth dropped me a line to clarify how he interacts with his audience and why he has chosen to do so and it gave me some food for thought in terms of what our definitions of interaction and engagement are.
Seth mentioned that he takes the time to respond to direct emails and monitors the trackbacks from his blog on a regular basis. From his perspective one-on-one interaction is a good way to engage with his community and ultimately a more productive use of his time than trying to respond to comments from anonymous bloggers (let alone controlling spam and monitoring inappropriate posts). And that’s not a wrong perspective. It’s just a different one. It doesn’t mean he is ignoring the conversation, just participating in it differently.
I can understand how, as bloggers, we tend to want immediate and direct feedback and interaction, and that’s not a bad thing. In fact, the ability to communicate with those across the country, or around the world and exchange ideas out in the open is a wonderful thing. But it’s not the only way of doing things. I think there is room for both kinds of community interaction, depending on your goals.
Ultimately both methods (and I’m sure there are many more – podcast messages, skype, etc.) only work if you have the cornerstones of community engagement and relationship building on blogs – authenticity and feedback to begin with.