This morning, I saw an interesting article from The Social Marketers about Copyblogger’s move to remove comments from their website and their Facebook page. I disagreed with their stance on it, and support Copyblogger for making the move I just made.
Let’s break this down a bit.
Who the hell is Copyblogger?!
If you’re not in the content marketing industry, then you might not know who Copyblogger is, and why this is such a big deal. Copyblogger is a company founded in 2006 on the principle of reaching your audience via great content, and they teach this stuff. It’s actually really good too; I only found them long after I had already developed my content strategy, but I found our views on content aligned well, and I subscribe and recommend them. (This is a link to their About page if you’re interested in read more about them.)
In short, Copyblogger is an industry leader in content marketing and blogging on a large scale. So when they decide to do something unorthodox (which is my mantra), the world reacted negatively, as it was expected.
Now let’s get down to business.
Copyblogger removed Comments
In an undated blog post, Copyblogger explained in detail why they were removing comments from their blog. With the growing popularity of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, websites have and continue to experience decreases in engagement and interaction on their websites, and find their conversations are moving away from native comment systems to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. They explained how great this is for blogs, because you’re able to interact with a larger audience, which is never a bad thing.
When you manage a comment system on a blog, a great deal of the time you find two or three word comments, like “great post” or “thanks for posting”, but then you find some commenters posting long and articulate views and opinions. Copyblogger’s response to this was “If you’re going to put the work in to articulate your thoughts, to make an intelligent argument, and to bring something fresh to the conversation … you should be putting that work into your site, not ours.” Copyblogger, I applaud you.
And then there is spam… Spam comments are usually 90% of your comments, which is quite disheartening especially for a new blog. For a larger blog, it is time consuming to moderate these comments, and most often than not, you’ll have to hire someone to do just that. So that’s an extra human resource you need to pay (and pay well because your brand image hinges on their reliability) to moderate comments, something which you are not generating any money from. This is an expense, in the eyes of a CFO or accountant.
From the article: “In a little over eight years, Copyblogger has published more than 130,000 approved comments. Which is pretty amazing, right? But over that period, that’s only about 4% of the comments that were left on the site. The remaining 96% were pointless, time-wasting spam.“
I removed my comment system about a month ago, but I did it for a different reason: I just wasn’t getting any interaction via comments. It just didn’t make sense; and i had hundreds of articles with no comments on the bottom. It made my website feel unpopulated, which is entirely the opposite. The readers here just don’t comment.
BUT! They have not removed all interaction with their fans as The Social Marketers are saying… Instead, they are using the outlets where their communities are, as opposed to having an outlet where their community isn’t as active.
This is posted at the bottom of every single article. And I love it.
Copyblogger removed their Facebook Page
“Have you ever stared at something, knowing you’re doing everything right, but it still won’t … freaking … work? That’s how Copyblogger has felt about its Facebook page for quite some time. As of today, the page has 38,000 “fans,” but Copyblogger’s presence on Facebook has not been beneficial for the brand or its audience.“
That feeling is real with a lot of brands, but they are so afraid of pissing off their target audience that they decide to stick with a method which just isn’t working just because social media “gurus” are telling you to use it. If you’re not getting traffic and actual conversions from a method of advertising, it’s obviously NOT for you.
Copyblogger is built on content and interaction with that content. Social strategies are also built on content and interaction with that content. So why are you paying hundreds of dollars behind a platform to reach an audience which isn’t interacting with your content or your brand?
“Here’s the first thing you need to know about social brand presences: Your fan and follower numbers mean absolutely jack. (Complete the phrase with the word of your choice after “jack,” if you feel so inclined.)” FINALLY! Someone in the industry (besides me) has said it!
“First, the page had an overwhelming number of junk fans. These are accounts with little to no personal status update activity that just go around “Liking” Facebook pages. They’re essentially accounts tied to “click farms” — ones paid pennies for every Facebook page they Like. In other words, these fans are useless to your brand. Why? Because fake fans damage the visibility of your posts in Facebook’s algorithms.”
“Copyblogger has found value actively engaging with its community through Twitter and Google+.” Not every social network is made for a particular brand. A fashion outlet might do a lot better on Pinterest than on Twitter. But Twitter and Google+ was working for them, and Facebook wasn’t. Twitter works for me, Google+ and Facebook don’t. I agree 100% with them.
This is a screenshot from their article showing clearly how unproductive Facebook was for them:
After seeing all this data, why should they stick at it? It’s not working for them, and hasn’t been for a long time. I agree with their move from Facebook and their more concentrated approach to the networks which are generating what is most important to them: serving their audience.
All in All…
A brand has a particular target and different priorities than another. Copyblogger in this case is taking their conversation to other networks, and is trying to encourage people to blog about their thoughts on Copyblogger’s articles, which is AWESOME. They are showing that they are an unselfish brand, encouraging people to build based on their content, and not the other way around. They don’t want all the content on their website; they want to see your content on your site!
Also, they have established that brands do NOT need to be on Facebook if it’t not working for you. They took a bold move; one which thousands won’t, and they have done it, not for themselves, but for their communities. You talk, they listen. And they have been watching the interaction on their social networks for a long time coming. If their community was interacting with them mainly on email, and very few were using social networks, I wouldn’t be surprised if they left social media entirely, but that ain’t gonna happen.
Anyway, this is one brand, who made the bold move I’ve been clamouring about for about two or three years. Hats off to them!