distribution is the problem[Spoiler Alert]

In a blog post from this past Monday, Copyblogger explained Why We’re Removing Comments on Copyblogger. It’s a smart move by some demonstrably smart marketers. They gave several perfectly good reasons why it would be a good idea for them.

  1. First, the conversation doesn’t end. They argue that social media has significantly marginalized the need for blog comments. Furthermore, they add, social media actually does a better job of continuing the conversation and provides you a wider audience. That latter point is true enough, but I think it’s arguable whether or not it’s a “better” place for having conversations.
  2. More important, maybe this isn’t the right place. Here’s where they get a little cheeky. They’re making it sound like they’re doing us all a favor by inviting us to talk about them on our own blogs. “Now if you want to link back to us, of course we would love that. But the main goal here is to make the ideas your own — to create your own expression, your own take. (Which we can’t wait to see.)”
  3. And then there’s the spam. They cite the fact that over the past eight years, they’ve approved a minuscule 4% of more than 130,000 blog comments and spam-fried the other 96%. That’s a lot spam and must be a real drag for them, no doubt.

These conversations are the life blood of your blog. They’ll tell you whether or not your content is resonating. Think of your blog posts as the product and the conversations as distribution. If the product is great, maybe you have a distribution problem.

Well played, Copyblogger. Well played.

As I mentioned, the only point I may challenge them on is whether or not social media is actually a “better” place to have conversations. Blog comments allow conversations to persist over days, weeks and even years sometimes. There’s value there, in my opinion.

But what’s the real reason they’re doing this? Links. Like the link they earned from this article. I’m not criticizing them for it at all. It’s a smart marketing move. I took the bait, right? I think I would have respected it a little more if they were more transparent about it. They say that the “main goal here is to make the ideas your own — to create your own expression, your own take.” That’s a little patronizing at best and downright deceptive at worst. But I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word.

Important Caveat

They are very honest by saying that this is the best move for them and your mileage may vary. It’s important for marketers looking for the best strategies for themselves and their clients to understand that many success stories come from uniquely positioned companies or personalities. Seth Godin has a following that allows him to successfully execute extremely unorthodox marketing strategies. And Copyblogger is one of those 8-year-overnight success stories. They also have a platform that most blogs don’t and so this is a recipe that will probably work well for them.

So kudos to them and have fun counting all those new links. And credit them for recognizing the fact that they’re an outlier. For your own blog, it’s a good reminder to always be thinking about strategies and tactics that can generate more links.

(For example, take a contrarian position from the 800-pound online gorilla, maybe?)