If you manage a blog you know the importance of being able to drive conversation. That won’t happen if people feel like it’s an inconvenience to comment on your posts. Over the past week, I tried out three comments platforms that claim to help improve and connect discussions on the web: Disqus, Livefyre, and Comments Plus.
Disqus Comments Platform
Going into this, I was the most familiar with Disqus’s comment platform. It’s been around for about five years, many of the blogs I follow use it, and I’d already been using it for some time. They’ve had a pretty good grasp on how discussion drives traffic and recently released the results of a study on the matter.
I like that by logging into my Disqus account I can see all of the comments I’ve left and which ones were liked by other users. You can see in the photo above that I’ve left 7 comments with 6 likes. Even though they’d recently released new features like a ranking system that allows admins to reward people who comment frequently, and in an effort to improve transparency, a notification system that lets you know when your comment has been unapproved, I was curious to try two newer comment platforms and see what they had to offer.
Livefyre Comments Platform
First, I installed Livefyre’s comments platform on my personal WordPress blog. As the name suggests, Livefyre provides real-time conversation over the conventional commenting platforms. It makes your blog the hub of all conversation revolving around its content as it brings the discussion on social networks to your blog. Users are able to tag their friends on Facebook and Twitter in their posts to further expand the conversation.
Users can log in using their pre-existing social media accounts or create a new Livefyre account which, I was told by a few readers who opted to do so, was a quick and easy process. There’s no need to refresh your page to see new comments as LiveFyre automatically posts and “bumps” new comments to the top of the thread. This took some getting used to for me as I was used to my old platform which added new comments at the bottom.Visitors can also see how many people are “listening” or viewing a post at any given time. One benefit to this is that it helps mirror “real time” communication in that we tend to monitor and deliver our thoughts differently based on audience size – some people may find it necessary to leave more thoughtful comments when they know more people are “watching.” As an admin, I found it another useful tool in gauging participation.
Like Disqus’ new ranking system, users are rewarded points on Livefyre when others “like” their comments (think: Facebook). It has a very clean look and the comments are nested making conversations easy to follow. It further expands the discussions allowing other Livefyre users to link back to their most recent blog – I’ve always found this feature to be handy in discovering new bloggers and likewise, it opens you up to a whole new audience. My most favorite aspect of LiveFyre is that you get SEO credit for all the comments on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter which helps boost your blog ranking.
Some users complaints about Livefyre were minor like getting email notifications every time someone commented, but there’s a link at the bottom of the emails that directs you to turning off such notifications, and most handled it easily enough. However, if you receive the notifications, there’s a neat feature that lets you respond to comments from your email instead of traveling back to the blog.
Comments Plus Comments Platform
After such a smooth transition to LiveFyre, I was curious to see how Comments Plus’s comment platform would fare. First, unlike the other two services, I had to pay a monthly fee to access the plugin. It was, at first, advertised at $17/month, but once I went to sign up, the lowest plan was $39/month. After installing the plugin I hit a snag when I realized my WordPress theme’s hooks weren’t compatible with the comment platform. I put their 24/7/365 claim of customer service to the test around 10pm and discovered that’s not quite the case. No one was available in the live chat and I had to rely on the forums to find a fix to my issue. I also had to setup Facebook and Twitter apps, but they walk you through the process in the plugin’s WordPress settings. Once it was up and running I posted a blog to start the comments flowing.
Comments Plus boasts the convenience of allowing people to sign in to their pre-existing social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and WordPress before commenting. When someone chooses Facebook or Twitter, their replies are posted on their accounts there to give your blog more exposure. It didn’t really do much to change or enhance the look of my blog, and I’m not sure I see the value in spending $39/month for it.
I conducted a quick Facebook poll of my readers and Livefyre was almost unanimously favored over Comments Plus.
There’s a lot to explore with all three, and it’s important that you find a platform that suits your needs and attracts your readers. Take them for a test run to get a feel for each and get that essential audience feedback.
Which comments platform are you currently using? Have you tried either Disqus, Livefyre, or Comments Plus? What were your thoughts?