Raking it in without
breaking your soul

You Can Turn Off The Comments

It’s your blog. Your social media. You get to choose the rules.

Early in my days of content creation, I totally didn’t understand that I was in charge. My blog platform contained a comments feature that was turned on by default and I didn’t even question it.

Nor did I need to, at first. I was posting every couple weeks and you wanna know how many comments I got?

Zero.

I was praying for comments. Someone, please, let me know you’re out there.

It took a few months, but they came. Here’s the first, from someone who is still a good friend, Stuart Henderson, regarding an early checklist for reports that I published.

Feels good, right? In fact, most of those early people have become dear to me. Most comments were sweet and supportive.

Until they weren’t.

The first negative comment made my knees shake. Sweat immediately poured from my armpits. My face got hot, my brain felt dizzy, and I thought I was gonna puke.

That negative comment rolled around in my brain, obsessively, for at least three days.

I’d post it for you here but I think I deleted it. 😶 In fact, I’m pretty sure I deleted my entire post. Let’s just act like that never happened.

But after another few months, it happened again. While I hyperventilated into a paper bag, even more replies posted, in which people started arguing with each other AND me. Big names in the data viz world tapped in to the fight:

I blurred out most of it because the actual content isn’t relevant but LOOK AT THE LENGTH OF THE REPLY.

This forced to the surface a very valid question: Does posting also make you responsible for hosting a public debate about your ideas?

Is there an obligation to provide a platform for negativity? Even if they have a point? Even if they’re trolls?

The default mode on blogs and social media posts has always been Comments On. You enter the arena, you better be open to the good, the bad, and the ugly. The entire Internet is a forum for open commentary. Put on your boxing gloves and get out there.

But… says who? I mean, who established those rules? Tech is disproportionately white and male.

Who populates those forums and engages in those debates? At least in my comments, it’s mostly white men. And exclusively so when the comments go negative.

The model that brings them some sort of fulfillment doesn’t work for me. I have better, bigger things to do with my time than moderate Stephen vs Andy vs Jon vs Jeff vs me.

So I turned off the comments. To be clear, first I wrestled with what this means for democratic thought and transparency and oh what will these people think of me. For a few days. Then I just went into WordPress and clicked the button to turn off comments. It’s remarkably easy.

Same deal on LinkedIn. You can just turn off the comments if you want.

It’s your call. That’s the important part here: It’s your call. You get to decide how you’ll put your thoughts out there in the world.

The Components of a Good Social Media Post

Friends, the algorithms are always changing. But as sure as the sun rises tomorrow, the algorithms always prioritize and promote posts that are structured a certain way. I’ll tell you what’s working in Spring 2024 – no guarantees this will last forever.

The other guarantee: This won’t make you viral. But it will work to get engagement and engagement is where you build your brand.

Good, solid, business-based social posts have 3 things:

Pictures

These days the platforms value pictures posted as (1) videos or (2) a swipe-able carousel of several static images.

A point

Add text please! This isn’t like the olden days of Instagram where you literally just post a photo.

A call to action

Ask your followers to do something. If you’re being business-savvy, you’ll use this as an opportunity to get them to use your services in some way.

Let’s look at a few examples of successful static posts!

Nina’s Social Media Post

Check out this LinkedIn post from my friend Nina Sabarre. She runs Intention 2 Impact.

Nina’s post includes a swipeable set of images, including this cover image, that capture her 5 hot takes from a recent conference.

Each hot take is, of course, the point of the post.

And her call to action is to invite engagement by asking followers to reply with their memorable moments from the conference.

Nina also made the smart move of tagging several others to bring this post to their attention. 5 reposts – that’s pretty good. 47 likes – cool! This is a really solid post.

Nicole’s Social Media Post

Here’s another example, this time an Instagram post from a former mentee, Nicole Rankins.

Instagram can be so image-forward that people sometimes don’t even read the accompanying text. So Nicole’s image includes a note to see more in the captions.

The first line of her caption – which is all most will see until they tap See More – is a nice hook that makes you want to keep reading. Her caption is full of points. Real insights and help.

Her caption is so long you can’t even see the call to action in this one screenshot. It is:

“And if you’re looking for questions to help you decide if you’re with the right doctor, check out my FREE class on how to make your birth plan. Head to my profile to grab it now!”

She’s giving her followers next steps to take that get even more practical useful advice from her. 94 likes – awesome! When the call to action guides followers out of the post, you can bet the like count is inaccurate because rather than tapping the heart, people are tapping into Nicole’s bio and taking the action.

You can sub out the graphics for a video, too. Just you talking to the camera. It takes less time in Canva and a wee bit more courage. Even if you have video, you’d still want a caption with a point and a call to action.

This info changes day-to-day but at the time I’m writing this post (early Spring 2024) the data is saying that the best engagement comes from captions that are 30 words or less.

If you’re worried how your new social media posts will be received, send me the link to your post and I promise, I’ll drop a comment and a heart.