Why I Stopped Joining Engagement Threads

Not all travel blogs are built the same.

For about a year, I’ve been creating content on my travel blog here to post about once a week. I blocked all spam accounts so there won’t be fake statistics on my Google analytics. With regards to The Petite Wanderess, I have a few principles – the main one being it should contain things I truly want to feature or write about. If you’re not familiar with web stuff, SEO is a b*tch to crack. With plenty of content being created every day by countless people in this world, it’s a tough task to get your voice (in this case, your site) heard among the noise (in this case, Google results).

Everyone has a travel blog these days.

This particular travel blogger that I admire had mentioned before to not spend too much time trying to build an audience via commenting on others’ blogs. Because your target audience should be people who want to travel, not the bloggers that are already travelling and writing about it. True, maybe one of their fans/commentors will notice your comment and click on your link, but well we’ll get to that in a bit, read on. More likely, the only reaction and attention you’ll get is from the blog-owner, lol.

Why I Stopped Joining Engagement Threads • Petite Wanders

I blog because I want to.

If people (bloggers & none-bloggers) came across my site and found my posts useful and enjoyable, that will be a bonus. If one day, my blog has the power to open new doors or give me opportunities for travels, that will be a double bonus.

There are Facebook Groups with ‘Engagement Threads’.

Why I Stopped Joining Engagement Threads • Petite Wanders

This is how a FB Engagement Thread works: You leave your post’s link. The next 10 people who leave theirs will visit your post and leave a comment. You will also do the same for the 10 links above yours. It’s like a loop. Threads like these guarantee engagement in the form of exchange — you give 10 comments to others, you get 10 comments from other others. You can even ‘report’ people who didn’t commit to the rules.

This also means, all or almost all the comments in your post are from fellow travel bloggers! Whahaha. If that’s not ironic, I don’t know how else to define it.

Engagement threads increase your blog visits and with a decent number of comments, it appears that your posts are indeed well-written and people enjoy them. Surely your posts should be considered high in value! At least it appears so, to the advertisers that want your blog to feature their services.

I’ve participated in engagement threads about 2, maximum 3 times, especially when I feel I did a killer post (a.k.a a post that took a super load of time and effort) and I needed to promote the shit out of it. Using these engagement threads, I’ve also discovered a few interesting blogs and learned about cities I’ve never heard of.

So today, there was a blogger who tagged a few people in a particular thread and mentioned that our comments had been too short and “impersonal”. Before you imagine I left irrelevant Instagram-spammy-like kinda comments such as “Cool!” or “Awesome!”, I did not. My comment was based on the blogger’s article which I’d gone through and replied accordingly to. My comment consisted of 2 sentences, not 2 words.

But it was not long or personal enough for the blogger’s liking.

I was a little taken aback by this response, and rather turned off, honestly. Because if someone had visited my post and took the time to leave a comment, I will appreciate the effort.

The blogger’s response made me think about various scenarios to apply for reviewing my own blog. What if:

• Your content is actually not that interesting?
• The reader just could not relate to your content?
• Your writing is actually not fantastic?
• The site design is quite awful?
• Your photos are awful with a disturbing tint because of the filters you put them through?

After the incident, I began to ponder about the entire purposes of these Engagement Threads. The action of leaving comments are tactics to pass through either the gates of SEO, or the blog’s potential clients — people/organizations that partner with travel bloggers. And I kinda wondered whether, in a way, I’m ‘cheating’. Of course, to each his own. I’m not saying bloggers who do this are intentionally cheating. It’s just that the method does not go well with me personally.

Sunset, Oia, Santorini • The Petite Wanderess
the top left corner of this photo is the stone ‘fortress’ with the Danger sign earlier on

This incident also got me thinking real hard about WHY I blog, WHO I’m blogging for, WHAT do I want out of this blog, and WILL I STILL BLOG even if no one’s reading? (The answer to the last question has been decidedly yes ever since I started a blogging habit more than a decade ago.) I started to think about the creatives, writers and artists that inspire me to this day, and what is it about their work that makes them inspirational or keeps them going.

With that said, the content of my travel blog is of utmost importance to me. I spend shitloads of personal hours just to craft one post – pure hard work and passion! Blogging can get tiring and does not earn me any real income [yet].

For now, I won’t be participating in any of these Engagement Threads. I will still visit travel blogs, and will only leave comments if the posts did stir a reaction in me or if I want to show support to a fellow blogger. I’m not sure if I will join Engagement Threads ever again because one should never say never, but one thing I know clearer than ever is:

I prefer to build a loyal following using MY ways.

Even if my methods don’t guarantee results and are much more tedious. At least, they feel more solid and real to me.

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14 comments

  1. It may be a good solution for beginning (just to promote yourself a bit and give yourself hope that you can actually go further), but it’s not going to work in long term – what you need is an active group of people who want to engage with you. Building community takes time, but if you are consistent, it will work for sure!
    Numbers are not everything.

    1. Hi Milena! I do agree it helps to bring in some readers at the beginning, but definitely not a long-term strategy like you said. And yep, numbers are not everything though it’s the first thing people look at. Thank you for the encouragement! I’m glad there are various communities to connect with different people =)

  2. I love this. I’ve had a travel blog since 2009, when I first moved abroad. Now I’m a permanent expat, and travel frequently, so I’ve kept it up. But only recently have I started to dip a toe into Facebook groups and Instagram comment pods (similar to what you posted about above, but for insta pics) and after a few weeks I couldn’t stand it anymore and took myself out of anything that involved tit for tat commenting. It’s weird and fake and just…not fun or helpful really. It doesn’t even build real growth, because it’s just the same number of people commenting on each other’s stuff every time. And then I coincidentally stumbled on your post, and it makes me feel like i’m NOT taking crazy pills, and there are other normal, chill people out there who just happen to also write about travel. So…thanks for writing about this crazy trend!

    1. Hi Ashley, I’m so happy to see your comment! When I first participating in FB engagemt threads, it was quite interesting to see the different places and things travel bloggers write about. But the 10 comments for 10 other comments eventually felt rather lame, especially when I myself see posts that I’m not very interested in and still must leave long, “thoughtful comments”, whahaha. Similar to you, I enjoy blogging and nothing’s gonna take that away from me, not Instagram’s algorithm rules etc etc. Let us just do our thing without getting too swept up in those forced engagement rates and exchanges ya! =D

  3. Hi Kristine,
    I really learned a lot about blogging from your post. I haven’t seen the engagement threads as you mention but have seen the like for likes on facebook pages. I have yet to actually post a like for like, I think mostly because I don’t want to like just anything out there. But it is a nice way to discover some new blogs out there which I like. So for now I’m just a silent observer, dipping in every now and again.
    I think your point about audience and readership is really on point. I was just saying the other day how much I enjoy reading comments on my blog because they are from people that are expats and travelling like myself. However when I think of why I originally started the blog, it was to be helpful for other travellers and expats.
    It’s also nice to know I’m not the only one who spends hours on posts. Your posts are beautiful and your writing is eloquent. I wish I could write like that and hope to get better in the future. For now I’m learning through you and others like you!

    1. Hi @ispyprettyplaces! Thanks so much for this comment, it really warmed my heart big time! Very grateful for your wonderful compliments and glad to hear you agree about the audience and readership too =) The blogging industry is constantly changing and it’s very interesting and challenging to learn and evolve.

      I spend many hours, mostly up to days to craft one post cos there’s so many aspects to take care of! It was never this difficult in the way-way long-gone past whaha. Let’s keep on refining our standards and learning and I’m sure we will all be happy with where we’ll be!

  4. Your post totally made my day! I later on getting very sick.of commenting thread. It all atarted with myself being called out on not being supportive after leaving an honest comment. Then i wonder whats the purpose of the comment thread anyway? I know its stated with supporting each other, but at least we need to be honest with each other and with ourselves.

    Another thing i found out is that comment thread is really time consuming. Our time can be better used to work on our content and real engagements than comment pods. And i agree,if you have travel.blogger as your most audience, your blog wont go far. Google Analytics unique visitors will show how well your blog engagements are.

    1. Most welcome, Julie! I’m so glad to see your comment, really! Some days I look at other bloggers’ high comment rates in their posts and I’ll wonder if I should retract my stand and give engagement threads another chance, but then I have THIS post lingering around on my blog, so I can’t do it. It makes me very gratified when bloggers like you guys swing by and agree with the logic I’m trying to put across here!

      And yep! To visit the mandatory other blogposts out of being forced, and within a fixed timeframe, was stressful, very time-consuming and not always something I enjoyed during the few times I’d participated in the past. You’re correct, we can spend the time more productively by working on our content, and sincerely supporting the other bloggers we admire. We’re all in this together.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

      1. Thanks for writing this. I remember getting stress out doing one comment thread and i removed myself from the group afterwards. I was so scared because the same as you, there wont be that much comment on my Blog from that moment on, but i rather have one comment knowing its real.

        You have a beautiful blog with beautiful pictures and nice design, so keep up the good work. Building our own audience is hard and takes very long time, but it will happen and evetually, our effort will pay off.

        1. Same here for the one comment thread that started me questioning all the reasons. My comments are not high but at least now and then, you’ll see the genuine support beyonddd the blogpost, from people who benefitted from what you write, even if they didn’t comment. And guess what, if an article covers everything, the reader has no questions so will not comment too, and will also leave your site (= higher bounce rate) because he’s got all the answers already. There’s the contradiction, so I feel measurement and engagement are so much more than the perceived comment rate and bounce rates. I’m still learning.

          Thanks so much for the show of support Julie! Wishing both our blogs well! =)

  5. I appreciate the honesty of your post. I’ve often felt the same and have started to leave groups. On the positive side I have met lots of other travel bloggers and learned from them improving my site. You’ve put together a great site and should be proud of it!

    1. Thanks for this, Albert! Yeah the upside is I get to see many different kinds of blogposts and know about the travel bloggers. The downside is feeling forced to write something constructive when the blogposts are just not what I’m faintly interested in as a reader. But I’ve made that decision =)

      Thank you for the show of support and compliment! Much appreciated =)

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