It sounds so arrogant, doesn’t it?

Read my content, please. But, truth be told, if it comes down to it and you can either share what I’ve written or comment on it, well, I’d prefer that you share it.

Look, I adore comments, I really do. Even the ones that disagree with me. If you’re writing and people aren’t disagreeing with you, well, then you’re not writing from your heart. You’re writing what you think other people want to hear. This is also known as wasting your time.

But, I want as many people as possible to read the words that I write. And the only way that happens is when my readers share my words with others.

This post is born out of a Twitter chat I attended on Sunday. The topic was comments versus shares (obviously) and attendees – at least those that were voicing their opinions – appeared to be pretty evenly split.

Those on Team Comment cited validation for their work, engagement (although few expanded on what their use of today’s hottest social buzzword actually meant in this context), and the fact that shares can be automated and are thus useless, as the reasons for their positions.

Team Share boiled down to two facts:

  1. Comment spam is getting out of control (with some going so far as to actually turn comments off on their blogs), and
  2. Sharing builds your audience.

DING DING DING!! It really is that simple – sharing, and not comments, is what builds your audience. 

If you want to grow, you have to reach new eyes. It’s why we advertise, it’s why we blog, it’s why we do everything we do to try to take a bigger piece of the pie we have in front of us (now I want pie in front of me…) We. Want. To. Grow.

A piece I wrote on Medium about train travel is currently sitting at close to 65,000 views. It got these views because the people who read it thought that other people should read it, too.

They reacted to it; not in a way that said “this is interesting and I would like to chat a bit more with the author,” but instead said “holy shit, I think that everyone I know should probably read this!” The result is that the vast majority of referrals to the story – some 55,000 of them so far – came from Facebook. This, dear reader, is the power of sharing.

At the same time, 16 people have commented on it.

I am eternally grateful to those who took the time to comment on the piece. These are, quite literally, seconds and minutes out of people’s lives that they dedicated to reacting to something that I wrote. They gave me time out of their day to not only read words that I’ve written but also to interact with me and make their voices heard, and say hello. I love them for it.

But 65,000 views didn’t come from 16 comments. It’s actually the very opposite:

The comments exist because the words were shared.

Community is important – of this there can be no doubt. And, every person who has an online presence wants nothing more than to grow that community and to establish a following that reads them, reacts to them, and interacts with them on a regular basis.

But there is only one way for that to happen, and it comes from people sharing your work.

So look – if this piece touched a nerve with you and you really feel the need to give me a piece of your mind; by all means, the comments are open. But would you mind sharing it first?