We all know the advantages social media brings to our blogs: it helps us to be known out there, brings traffic to our posts, boosts the conversation and helps to position our website in search engines. But there is a price that we have to pay: conversation is no longer happening in our blogs but in our Facebook page, in Twitter, in LinkedIn or even in Google+. And unless you are a big fish like Mashable, in the long term this might affect your site.
To better understand the problem you have to start looking to comments as plain content. One of the big reasons why blogs are such a great communication tool is because of the dynamic contents, which users and search engines love.
In terms of SEO, the more contents you have and the more updated, the better position you get in Google, both for the “quantity” but also because with more contents you most probably add more keywords and relevant links. You should consider comments as mini-posts in your blog: they add original content with new keywords and links, and they “refresh” the date the of publication.
Leaving aside the science of search engine optimization, the conversation is great because it does something very important in terms of interest for your readers: comments complete and improve your posts. You might have forgotten to mention something important, or maybe you brought up a question that lead to an interesting discussion, or someone just has a point of view different from yours. In any case, when readers find your blog post they can learn as much from the comments as from the article itself, but it will still happen in your website.
Therefore the problem with social media is that even though it boosts the conversation, the contents generated are not working for you but for Facebook or Twitter. All those interesting links, keywords and information wont be posted in your website, and your articles won’t be enriched by other points of view or new arguments. Moreover, the discussion becomes impossible to follow for your readers because some people will be writing on Facebook, others in Twitter and LinkedIn, some in Google+… and they won’t know about the others or what they say. Time will make things even worse: comments in social media get lost in a few days, conversation fades and no-one will be able to find or remember that discussion. Comments in your blog stay forever, making your content grow and allowing the discussion to keep going.
Conversation is always good, but depending on your objectives you should pay attention to where it happens. Social media brings traffic immediatly to your blog but it doesn’t necessary make it better, while comments under your posts will make your contents better although they might not bring as much visits in the short term.