Tips From a Lurker: How to get comments and feedback
Despite being a performer with a healthy post history, I lurk.
I keep to myself most days. I shy away from big conversations. I’m a relatively private person. And unless I remind myself to be brave and venture out, I usually stay within my own posts. Lurking is passive, it’s easy. But it’s also kind of lonely. Anyways…
Lack of comments or feedback is a frustration I frequently hear from creators. While view counts and upvotes are appreciated, nothing quite beats a nice message or comment. And I admit, I get a little rush every time I get a notification. Am I doing a good job? Tell me, please!
No one wants to feel like they’re shouting into a void.
Now perhaps it’s because I’m a female performer, and we naturally get more traffic. But I think I fare pretty well for my gender. On a good post, I might get a hundred comments. Now, half of those are my own replies, but that’s a part of the strategy.
So here are my tips for getting people to comment…
Note: This post is biased towards performers, but it can be applicable to writers as well.
Reply back to everything!
Reciprocity is probably the most important thing to remember. Just as you hope that someone will comment on your post, your poster will want to be acknowledged too. I reply back to almost all my comments and messages. It’s time-consuming. But here are my thoughts, if someone has taken the time to write me a nice message, the least I can do is say hello back. Listeners can feel lonely and rejected too if they think they’re being ignored. Altruism aside, they have little reason to continue contributing to your posts if you do not encourage them to do so.
Also, when shy lurkers see you positively engaging with your commenters, it might motivate them to join in too.
Caveat: This is my most time-consuming tip. So please be mindful of burnout once you start getting too many interactions.
Have meaningful interactions
I have a lot of fun replying back to my comments. Get creative with your replies. People can tell when you’re on autopilot and just replying “thank you”. If your replies are always the same copy-and-paste answer, it’s a huge turn-off. Your listeners aren’t dumb, they know when they’re being ignored.
If you want to go the extra mile, learn who your listeners are. I’ve come to recognize people who I frequently interact with. After a while, you can bring in throwbacks from previous comments or conversations. When people realize you still remember them, they’ll be more encouraged to engage with you in the future.
As a lurker, when I see generic replies, it discourages me from commenting. The insecure part of my brain thinks, “Oh, they’ve probably heard this a dozen times. I don’t have anything new or worthy to contribute.” But when I see dialogue and diversity, it makes me want to join in on the fun too.
Ask a question
You can always pose a question in your post. Although, avoid the generic question, “Was it good?” Give people a reason to start a dialogue with you. Open-ended questions would give you more interesting answers too. You can always ask for technical feedback like, “What did you think of the sound effects?” Or you can ask silly light-hearted questions like, “What do I have to do to get cuddles??”
Pay it forward
Comment on other peoples’ posts. If you listen to an audio and like it, leave something thoughtful behind. Share the love. You’ll make someone’s day, and maybe they’ll return the favor. And eventually, you can comment spam each other’s posts.
Make an anonymous form
Many listeners don’t have a Reddit account, nor do they want to comment on NSFW content from their main account. An anonymous Google form quickly solves that problem, and it’s a blessing for shy listeners.
Being anonymous can also provide you with more honest feedback. Perhaps your work isn’t perfect, and no one is brave enough to speak out. Your listeners are probably cognisant that less-than-positive comments are downvoted. And nobody wants to be punished for honesty. Performers are often put on a pedestal, and sometimes it’s hard to tell them they suck.
We suck sometimes… and not in a good way. So please tell us.
But what about trolls? That’s always a risk, but you can ignore them. From my personal experience, it’s been a wonderful way to get surprising and quirky feedback.
Small note, don’t make your feedback forms too complicated. A simple comment box is fine. But you can be a weirdo like me and ask for hugs and headpats. Hugs are winning by the way…20% lead.
Make a friend
This point doesn’t do much for boosting comments, but friends are an invaluable resource for feedback. I was fortunate enough to befriend a listener before joining GWA, and now he beta-listens all my work. This is a personal preference, but all my audios are screened before they go live. It’s hard to catch your own mistakes, and an extra ear is oh-so-helpful.
On the topic of friends, build diverse friendships. Don’t box yourself into an echo chamber of positivity. If you’re a performer, get to know a writer. If you’re a writer, get to know a performer. If you can, befriend someone of the opposite sex, or your target audience. Your friends will hopefully give you honest and critical feedback. When I proofread scripts, I try to be specific with problematic areas, and I expect my friends to treat me similarly. Friends should be able to tell each other when they’re shit.
If you’re shy and don’t know where to start, explore communities like GWABackstage, GWAScriptGuild, or GonewildAudible. There are also some off-Reddit servers with communities of very lovely people who will help you beta-listen and proofread your work if you ask nicely.
This is my last and probably least helpful tip, but it’s honest. The saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” is true for many people. Once you improve your craft, more listeners and commenters will come out of the woodworks. An active listener-base takes a lot of effort and time to foster. Patience is key. If you’re consistently putting out content, people will stick around to watch you grow. Do it long enough and eventually, even the shy ones, the lurkers, will come out and say hello.
Anyways, these are my thoughts. They’re fairly common sense, but hopefully it’ll be helpful to some. Creating content can be a rewarding experience. First and foremost, do it for joy and passion. But it’s also understandable why we all crave the validation.
Just remember that reciprocity is key, and to treat others the way you want to be treated.
If you have any thoughts or tips you’d like to share, please comment!
PS. Thank you βrother and u/FredRiting for proofreading this.