Shopmaster asked: “What are some good things you can do to get people to post or reply to topics in your articles?”

Thank you, Shopmaster. The act of simply getting people to reply to you, whether it be to topics you start in your forums or articles you write on your blog or elsewhere, is a common challenge that people face.

Sadly, there is no golden secret that ensures success. But, there are some things that you can do.

Be Compelling

Compelling discussions are more likely to get replies. Makes sense, right? Think about when you want to reply to something. Why is that? It’s because you are compelled. You found it interesting, you appreciated someone or wanted to offer an alternate opinion.

I don’t necessarily mean for this to degrade into being foolishly provocative and trying to get any reply you can. I don’t like to see that. What I mean is to offer well thought out opinions and interesting discussions that will make others want to participate, because the level of discourse is attractive.

Ask Them to Reply

I always say, you can do a whole lot worse than asking. That applies here. It doesn’t hurt to ask people to reply, to ask questions or to ask others to weigh in. Encourage people to do so by putting a call to action into your post. You don’t want to be too desperate, but asking once isn’t being desperate.

Appreciate the Replies You Get

I once was on a panel with Darren Rowse of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School. During the discussion, Darren said that no matter the size of your community, you should love what you have. If you have 3 people, love those 3 people. That is how you build actual community.

As such, appreciate the replies that you receive. Don’t always be asking for replies. Instead, more often, thank the people who take the time to offer their thoughts. Interact with them and ask them questions. Make sure it comes from a genuine place.

Make it Easy for People to Reply

Please don’t confuse this with making it easy for people to register. You can turn off registration and it’ll be as easy as possible. But, for most communities, that is a terrible idea. There is something to be said for simple registration forms, but that is not the point here.

The point is that, on most communities (mine included), the “post reply” button is pretty small. Why don’t you make it bigger? More colorful? Make it stand out, in other words.

Privately Invite People to Reply

Have you found a topic and know just the right person to reply to it? Why not send them a private message and invite them to the discussion? Tell them that you feel their perspective would add a great deal of value to the conversation.

Don’t overdo this, or it’ll come across as a nuisance. You should be genuinely inviting people who will be interested in the topic. It shouldn’t be an everyday sort of deal. It’s about matching the right people with the right content.

How Else?

What other ideas do you have to get people to reply? Please share them in the comments. (Note: this is a basic call to action for you to reply! See what I did there?)