Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Commenting System Should I Use On My Blog?


There are numerous commenting systems available for a blogger to use. In this article, I would like to share a few of them with you and explain why I have gone to Livefyre.

Blogger's Default System


So, if you couldn't tell, my blog (damondnollan.com) is hosted on Blogger, which is powered by Google. I don't recall why I left Blogger's commenting system exactly (back in 2009), but I'm sure it was far too basic and required a Google account. When compared to the competition, there was little incentive to stay. So, I moved to Disqus.

Disqus vs. Facebook


Based on my previous post, I am going to guesstimate that I switched to Disqus back in January 2010. This was about the time that I added the service to North Carolina Central University's news feed.

My interests were primarily centered on engagement with the community and making it easy to share an article. In addition to those benefits, I found the following features also appealing:
  • Threaded discussion
  • Multiple ways to sign-in
  • Follow a discussion via email
  • Track conversations off-site
  • Easy to moderate
In March 2011, well over a year later, Facebook introduced its commenting system for bloggers. I struggled with the decision to leave Disqus for Facebook. To figure it all out, I outlined both the pros and cons of the decision. 

To summarize, I didn't have a real complaint against Disqus. It worked well for me and I would have recommended it to anyone. Unfortunately, the draw toward Facebook was quite strong. The biggest draw was the two-way engagement between my friends on Facebook and readers on my blog. I wanted to transport the numerous Facebook conversations onto my blog while also introducing my readers to my Facebook community. 

Where Facebook had over 600 million users, it required my readers to sign-on with a Facebook account. What if people didn't want or have a Facebook account? That meant fewer comments. 

So, I just kept both services running simultaneously to see which one would win. To my surprise, I ended up leaving both for CommentLuv.

CommentLuv, IntenseDebate, And The Backlinks Revolution


While the details of the switch are vague, I do remember running both Facebook and Disqus for months. Some articles resulted in heavy conversation in one or the other, but neither were an easy win.

My friend, Ilean Smith, was a huge supporter and early beta tester of CommentLuv premium. By September 2011, she had grown her online community to the point that each blog post had numerous comments, likes, and shares. It was amazing to watch. Because of Ileane and the idea of backlinks, that I made the switch.

What I didn't understand about blogging was how to grow a large community of engaged readers. Creating great content had to be there, but what else? I asked. Ileane showed me that with CommentLuv, other bloggers could read, respond, and also link back to their latest blog post. It was like free advertising. The more people respond, the more they advertised. It was a win/win situation.

The idea of backlinks worked great, but in order to have CommentLuv on Blogger, I had to use IntenseDebate and its CommentLuv plugin. 

It worked but I switched back to Disqus. My best guess as to why I switched back had to do with IntenseDebate's features and the massive amounts of comments that I lost during the migration. 
  

Google+


In April 2013, Google announced that Blogger would receive Google+ comments. The advantage of this move would be similar in nature to what Facebook provided earlier. It would allow bloggers to bring a social network to our blog and our readers back to our social network. It was genius, I thought. 

Not only would comments made on Google+ get ported into my blog post, but the comments were also spidered by search engines. More comments, more eyes, more readers. 

The weakness of Google+ was its users. Most of friends are on Facebook, but few are on Google+.

...And The Winner Is...Livefyre Or Is It Disqus?!


As you can see, I struggle a lot with options. Do I go with this or that? Which solution will provide the greatest return on investment? Which solution will maximize engagement while also bringing in new readers? Isn't that what we all want?

Even as I write this article, I struggle with the ups and downs of this decision, but here is where I am today...

While I have enjoyed the ease, power, and engagement opportunities offered by Disqus over the years, I find that Livefyre has recently offered some features that are not available on Disqus. They include:

SocialSync
This is one of those things that I have been looking for since the beginning, the ability to bring discussions within the various social networks into my blog and vice versa. With SocialSync, discussions happening on Facebook and Twitter are automatically synced with my blog content. Not only does it bring the comments into my blog, but my blog readers can respond back with people on Facebook and Twitter. Neat, right?

Friend Tagging
Along with SocialSync, Livefyre also allows your readers to tag their Facebook and Twitter friends within the comment. Talk about engagement, what better way to invite friends than that? We all do it, but now we can do it from within a blog post. Awesome!

LinkBack
What made CommentLuv so appealing is now available in Livefyre. Readers, bloggers, and other site owners can leave thought-provoking comments on your site while simultaneously sharing their latest article. This feature encourages reader engagement while offering a win/win situation for all.

Media Embedding
What I really enjoy about Facebook is the opportunity to share videos, pictures, audio, and slideshow presentations with my friends. This feature is now available to your readers, too. As your community reads, they can contribute to the conversation with attractive media from across the Internet. 

Final Thoughts


This list of features is by no means an exhaustive one. What I hoped to do was give you enough information to make a rational decision. As it stands today, I am going officially with Livefyre as my comment system. 

What I lose by ditching Disqus are years of comments. While they are important and a valuable part of my site's history, I want to increase engagement on the new articles I write. I believe with Livefyre I can.

What I hope happens is that Livefyre will provide an import feature. Disqus does it and that's a win for them. Until that day comes, I'll just keep moving forward with what I believe will be a new day for damondnollan.com.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please, leave me a comment in the section below. What system do you use? Why?

Update 


On October 30, 2013, only days after writing this article, Livefyre started acting funny. I would visit certain articles and the comment box wouldn't show. I did a search online for a solution and found that this has been a problem for over a year, in some cases. Until I can find a solution, I have rolled my commenting system back to Disqus.

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Damond L. Nollan, M.B.A.

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