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Generating digital publishing revenue has moved from an ad concentrated model to monetization strategies based on paid subscriptions and paywalls. For publishers, this shift means a necessity to concentrate on building an online community gathered around their content. The goal is to transform engaging readers into paying subscribers. Enabling the WordPress comments section, available on desktop as well as on mobile app, can help achieve this goal.

Everyone who has once tempted to read a discussion on the Internet below any article can understand why some publishers decide to disable comments. The reasons seem quite obvious: fear of hate speech, unreasonable criticism or just impolite statements. Constant moderation process requires extra work and, quite often, hiring new employees. It’s easier to close the comments section or… move a discussion to social media channels. The second option means voluntary resignation from keeping readers on publishers’ sites and giving them in the technology giants’ hands.

The possibility of writing (and reading!) comments doesn’t just mean participating in the discussion with the author or other people. It’s an extension of the article, improvement of the journalism value and finally, transformation of passive readers into active ones, which has a huge impact on building a sense of belonging to the group. From here it’s a very short journey to trusting the brand and staying longer with the content, which will result in subscribing and paying. Consequently, you as publishers, journalists and authors face a challenge to be community organizers today.

Where should you start? From making it possible for people to express their thoughts under articles, using different devices they read on. You can do it thanks to tools like Disqus and Facebook Comments.

Get to know how to install the WordPress comments section to start building a circle of your supporters.

Do comments attract readers?

Saying simply “yes” would be a gross understatement. That’s why we’d like to show you how discussion functions in real digital publishing life.

“Grand Prix 247” is an independent project based on providing non-stop Formula 1 news coverage. Their content is delivered via the website and the mobile app. In both cases, the comments section is enabled and supported by Disqus.

Here’s how in-depth are the discussions under their articles and how an engaged community gathers around their content.

Disqus comments section on the website
The comments section on the GrandPrix247 website

What does publisher and editor of “GrandPrix247” Paul Velasco say about the possibility of commenting?

Over the years a community has evolved around the site and the comments section is where our gang of readers congregate to shoot the breeze, vent themselves, discuss, criticise, praise, lament… (…) As the editor of this site I really like the fact that the news we put out there gets enough reaction for readers to make comments. I wish this will continue and hope more people are inspired to share their thoughts going forward.

There’s no doubt that his positive approach contributed to building a huge and active audience around the content and the brand. But there’s still one important question without an answer.

What is the role of an engaged community in the monetization strategy?

Simon Owens, tech and media journalist, in one of his articles put on “What’s new in publishing” website, explains it in the following way:

Let’s say only 5 percent of your readers choose to register and comment; those readers will punch far above their weight in terms of driving traffic and revenue to your site. Those are your chief evangelists, your repeat customers, your paying subscribers.

To better illustrate the situation, he gives “The New York Times” example.

Currently, its digital subscribers only account for 3.6 percent of the newspaper’s monthly online audience, and yet that 3.6 percent drove over $400 million in subscription revenue in 2018.

It shows how enormous is the power of online readers’ and what is the advantage of a digital publication over a printed one. Then, taking care of the most engaged readers is worth the investment.

The beginning is in commenting possibility.

We’d like to present you with short guides explaining the WordPress comments installation on the example of Disqus and Facebook Comments tools. Thanks to them, your readers will be able to comment on your articles in a quick and easy way and you’ll gain a discussion section with an aesthetic look and a moderation option.

Disqus Comments System on WordPress

Disqus is a community platform used by different types of websites and blogs, allowing readers to comment on the content. This system is complemented with social network integration, advanced administration, and moderation options. Disqus works (and looks!) great on various platforms and supports devices from desktop to mobile. Adding this tool to your site or app increases direct traffic, time spent with the content, and page views per visit.

How to add Disqus plugin to WordPress?

Note: We’re talking about self-hosted WordPress.org sites. If you want to install Disqus on WordPress.com sites, here you’ll find instructions.

Step 1. Create a Disqus account and register your site.

Go to the disqus.com and click “Get started”.

Then, create your account. Fill in: name, email, password (you can also sign up with your social media accounts).

You’ll be asked to choose the purpose of your account: do you want to comment on sites or do you want people to be able to comment on your site?

If you want to add Disqus to your WordPress site and allow people to write comments, select: “I want to install Disqus on my site”.

Then, fill in the required fields: website name and its category.

How to add Disqus to the website
One of the steps of the Disqus installation

Pay attention to the website name – it includes two elements: “your shortname” + “disqus.com”. Your shortname will be used later (look at: Disqus Plugins Settings).

Now, you have to select the plan best for your needs: basic, plus, pro, business.

After the choice, you’ll see the list of publishing platforms where you can install Disqus. Among them, there are Blogger, Tumblr, Drupal, Joomla, Weebly, Wix, Hubspot, etc.

Our aim is WordPress. After clicking on it, you’ll see installation instructions. We explain them below step by step.

Step 2. Download and install the Disqus WordPress Plugin.

Go into your WordPress admin account.

From the left sidebar choose Plugins > Add new.

Use search box and type in “Disqus”.

What you’re looking for will be on top of the list of results: “Disqus Comment System”.

Click “Install Now”.

After a short and quick installation, you can click “Activate”.

The new plugin will appear on the left sidebar.

Step 3. Disqus Plugins Settings.

Click on your new plugin to go to the settings page.

There are two options to install Disqus: manual (faster) and automatic (easier). If you want to import your existing WordPress comments, we’d recommend choosing an automatic one.

Manual method

Make sure you’re now in Disqus Plugin Settings in WordPress (you should be there after clicking on your new plugin from the left sidebar).

On top of the site there is a bar with “Install” as the first position from the left; the second is “Site Configuration”. Choose the second one. Then, click the lock icon at the bottom of the site to unlock the form fields first.

Fill in your shortname (here’s the moment when you need your shortname we talked about earlier; think back to when you registered your website and created your two-part website name: “shortname” + “disqus.com”; use it now).

Click “Save”.

That’s it, you did it!

Automatic method

Make sure you’re now in Disqus Plugin Settings in WordPress (you should be there after clicking on your new plugin from the left sidebar).

On top of the site there is a bar with “Install” as the first position from the left. Click on it.

Here are the questions you will have to answer at this point:

  • Do you have a Disqus account? (If you successfully went through “Step 1” you can click “yes”.)
  • Do you have a site registered on Disqus you want to use? (As above.)

Then you’ll see four steps:

  1. Go to the WordPress installation page.
  2. When prompted, choose the Disqus site you want to use.
  3. If needed, copy the sync token below and paste it to the input field in the installation page.
  4. Click the install button and finish configuring your Disqus settings.
  5. You’ll get a message informing you about a successful installation.

Step 4. Let’s discuss!

Go to one of your articles on your website. Scroll down. Post a comment to make sure everything is fine.

Facebook Comments on WordPress

This is a combination of social media and comment engagement in one place and the easiest way to comment is by using posts. Why the easiest? If you install the plugin, people can comment on your content without any registration, using their Facebook accounts. It also allows them to share their comment activity with their friends (and friends of their friends) on Facebook.

How to add Facebook Comments to a WordPress site?

We will now present you with one of the ways, which is a plugin installation. You just need to create Facebook App ID and use it on your website.

The plugin installation

Go to your WordPress Dashboard. From the left sidebar choose Plugins > Add new.

Type “Facebook comments” into the search box.

You’ll see how many different plugins you can choose.

How to add Facebook Comments plugin to the WordPress
Facebook Comments plugins for WordPress

We’ll show you the process of installation on the example of “WpDevArt Social comments”.
You can find this name among all plugins you’ve received or once again use the search box. When you notice the right plugin, click on “Install Now” and “Activate” subsequently.

The plugin configuration

After that, you need to configure the plugin. It requires a Facebook App ID, so you need to create it.

Click here to do it (make sure you are logged in to your Facebook account).

You have to fill in two boxes: display name and contact email.

Then, click the button “Create App ID”.

Once the process is completed, get the App ID. Copy the Add ID, you’ll need it in a moment. Make the App live, following the required criteria.

  1. Go to “Facebook comments” on your Dashboard (this new plugin will be visible on the left bar). You’ll see comment box settings.
  2. Click and paste your App ID at the top.
  3. On the bottom of the website, you can check/uncheck places where comments could be displayed: home, post, page. Choose what you want and save the changes.

If you have checked “post” while configuring the plugin (just a moment ago), you can go to one of your articles to test if everything works.

Do you use WordPress comments section on your website?

It’s natural that people will also want to debate in your app! Thanks to this feature your mobile readers can share their thoughts and discuss the articles in real-time, directly from their smartphones.

People love it!

“GrandPrix247” we mentioned earlier is one of the examples proving it. Their fans are active in the mobile app just as much as on the website. Just look how crowded their comments section is in the app, how engaged their mobile readers are and how in-depth comments they write (comments we present below are sorted by the newest since the date of the article publishing but it’s a possibility to read them by the best or the oldest).

PressPad News supports comments sections
The comments section in the GrandPrix247 news app
Do you know that…

PressPad News (mobile apps solution for WordPress publishers) allows for Disqus and Facebook Comments mobile integration by default, without an additional installation? Your news app will be equipped with a commenting platform chosen by you. Check out other PressPad News extra features.

– What if no one will want to write comments under my articles?

Encourage readers to share their thoughts! See how the greatest do it.

The “Washington Post” runs a kind of newsletter called “Read These Comments”. What’s inside? The best comments on the site and discussions on diverse topics. What’s the deal? This action is a great way to encourage readers to join in on the discussion. Who knows how many subscribers started that way.

A good practice is also to ask people for feedback, respond to readers’ questions, or just show engagement from the publishers’ side: reactions, short messages or just saying thanks.

Digital publishers’ strength is in their readers’ engagement

Let’s be honest. Not everyone who visits your website would like to invest their time in registering and writing comments right away. But if someone engages with your publishing platform, they will most probably come more often to your website, stay longer with your articles, and, in time, want to be a part of the community supporting a brand they trust.

By adding WordPress comments to your website, blog or mobile app, you can build engaged communities, fuel conversations, get to know your audience insights whilst efficiently moderating discussions.

If you want to see how it works from the readers’ side, just write a comment below. We are happy to find out what your way to engage readers is, what you think about our article or just how you’re doing.