Your site’s comment board is just one aspect of your social media efforts, but having an active, energetic board is vital for creating interest in your business’ content and in your brand. However, sometimes creating that interest is easier said than done. Fortunately, Disqus recently made some major changes to its service which has made it simpler than ever to promote engaging discussions on your blog.
Wait… What Exactly is Disqus?
If you’ve never heard of Disqus, don’t worry — it’s not another social network for you to join. In fact, it’s quite straightforward to set up and operate, and it can actually streamline your online conversations. Basically, it is a discussion platform you can use in place of your existing comment system. So, for example, if you have a WordPress blog and are using the standard WordPress comment board, you can install Disqus on your site and use it instead of the pre-installed system.
Disqus works with all major platforms (WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, etc.) through the use of simple plugins, and the service has become so popular (and still growing) that it now reaches 700 million people a month.
What’s the point of switching to a new comment service? For starters, Disqus isn’t so much of a switch as it is an upgrade. It’s like getting a Swiss Army Knife when you’ve been using a butter knife — it gets the job done better and has a lot of cool extras.
One of the biggest selling points of Disqus is it offers threaded discussions, which means users can post a reply to a specific comment and their message will appear (indented) underneath the comment they’re referencing.
This makes it much simpler for your visitors to make sense of a conversation and to see who is talking to whom (even if they join the discussion late), and the more natural your site’s conversations, the easier it is to promote interesting discussions that keep people involved in your page for longer.
Another feature that’s made Disqus so popular is its email update feature, which sends an email to the blogger/site manager and anyone involved in the discussion every time the feed is updated. With this tool, everyone can participate in the conversation through their email and never miss a comment (no need to login to the website).
Email updates make it possible to keep hot conversations going and to inform users of breaking news or fresh content. Thus, through very little effort, you can stay connected with your followers and, by keeping them continually engaged in the discussion, they are more likely to stay interested in your brand and keep traffic directed toward your site.
The ability to have a shared profile across all Discus-using sites is another element that makes this platform standout. Users simply create one Discus profile, and the same avatar and identity is used on every website using the service (no need to create a new profile).
Not only does this make things easier, but it also helps create a sense of community within your industry and among similar blogs as people begin to recognize each other.
So, What’s New?
In addition to the features already mentioned, Disqus recently added some new elements to the program that can help you deliver an even better discussion experience to your visitors. Some of the most notable features of Disqus 2012 are:
- Real Time – Now, all comments are updated in real time with “sub-second” updating, and you can even see when someone is in the middle of typing (very much like you can with Facebook chat or any of the old IM services).
- Like System –To encourage quality discussions, Disqus added a voting system where users can show their approval for a comment by giving it a positive or negative vote, and the best comments remain higher in the discussion thread.This essentially makes Disqus comments almost identical to the way Reddit does commenting. The way Reddit (and now Disqus) works, the more upvotes a person has on their comment, the higher in the discussion they are. What this does is weed out the spammers, trolls, and other undesirables that ruin the internet for us.It’s really a genius move by Disqus.It will allow communities to stay as relavant and informative as possible by pushing the best and most liked comments to the top. This is only going to enrich the conversations happening on your site.
- Community View – Through this feature, visitors can instantly see the top participants on a website and join exciting conversations happening at the moment. As folks get involved in the community, they tend to follow people and conversations while discovering new websites (perhaps yours).
- Personal Feeds – Not only can you stay up-to-date with discussions via email, but also through any site using Disqus. So, if you’re involved in a discussion on one blog, you can also view and participate in feeds from other sites right from the same page.
- SEO-Friendly – Since all comments are indexed by search engines, your site has more opportunities to appear in listings.
- Social Integration – Now, users can share a comment or thread with their social network contacts, and those who are discussing your content in other online places, such as Twitter, are notified and invited to join your thread.
- Paid Discovery – To help encourage user discovery, Disqus’ new “Promoted Discovery” tool recommends related content from other sites across the web. The recommendations are personalized for your readers and are placed in a prominent position directly beside the comment feed (in the Discovery box).The great part is, by participating in Promoted Discovery, links to your content may appear on other people’s sites too. This gives you the benefit of being part of a traffic generating group, and your content is circulated for a longer time and among a much larger audience than it would on its own. If that wasn’t enough, you can also earn a revenue share if someone on your page clicks on a promoted (paid) content link. Or, if you’d rather be on the advertising end, you can pay to have your content publicized in the Discovery Boxes of relevant sites.
At the heart of every great blog or website there is an active community of people who are making comments, asking questions, debating, offering feedback, and generally breathing life into your content (without them it’s just a bunch of pictures and words). It’s possible to have such interactions with an ordinary comment system, but Disqus makes it so much easier and provides a better user experience. Of course it’s not perfect (what platform is?), but its comprehensive approach to online discussions can help you maintain that all-important connection between your business and its audience.
Have you tried Disqus 2012? If so, how has it impacted comments on your business’ site?