Social interaction on social media, blogs and forums is necessary to build relationships with friends, followers and readers.
You could behave like a hermit and never comment, blurt out what you think regardless of context like a spammer or a troll, or make an effort to communicate socially with other people in your web space.
I think it's much better to take the time to actually consider what you are going to say, how your comment will be received, and the implications it may cause.
For some techniques to effectively build relationships socially in the Internet, check out the infographic below:
And here's some code you could paste into your own posts (via the text mode) if you want to share this Infographic with your readers.
Why should you bother building relationships? Well, doing this will make the experience of commenting and social chatting online a much more gratifying experience.
It can be quite demoralising to happily comment away, only to receive no or little response in return. Whereas if you had made an effort, in advance, to build relationships with the people you interact with, the outcome will be more forthcoming.
The act of being social is all about relationship building. It's all about getting to know, like and trust the other person. How you accomplish this will depend upon which methods you use. This in turn will reflect how quickly and easily the interaction happens.
What's your writing style like?
You are always going to get a better response if you are friendly, forthcoming and enthusiastic. This may seem obvious, but I still see sour, brief and unwelcoming comments, and hear about commenters wondering why nobody reacts favourably to them.
It's time to see the other side of the coin. If you would respond better to a happy and exuberant message on your blog, why aren't you doing the same to other bloggers? Give what you expect to receive. Provide the kind of environment you would like to have, and it will be sent back in return.
Successful commenters have become experts in reflecting their personality through what they say. They have purposely adapted their delivery to make their readers feel comfortable and secure. It is this comfort which encourages and enhances a better response to their comments.
And this can also be extended to the bloggers themselves. Develop a personal voice within your writing style. It will make your posts instantly more readable, enjoyable and understandable. Something as simple as using the same words your readers would use can make a huge difference.
Be ready to reveal all about yourself
Part of the getting to know, like and trust element is finding out more about the person you are interacting with. Any anonymous or faceless commenter could be misconstrued as a spammer or a troll.
The answer is to submit your comments using a valid email address attached to a gravatar which actually shows a proper picture of you. Being willing to reveal the real you will make a difference to being accepted. And this contributes towards whether people will be ready to receive your comments and reply to them.
The element of trust is very powerful. It doesn't only come through your writing style and the nice things you say. People like to see they are dealing with a reputable, honest person, which is enhanced through the kind of photo you use in your gravatar.
This is also the same for bloggers. Remember to include a bio-box at the bottom of your posts. Show a proper picture of you, provide a decent write-up about yourself, activate the links to your social profiles and a list your most recent posts. There are plenty of plugins which can do this for you.
Ask questions to encourage comments
I did a little experiment the other week. I decided to ask a question in all my comments. This question was totally relevant to the post or comment I was commenting on, and I took great pains to make it fit into the general discussion, or enable furthering the conversation.
The results? People replied with answers. Some even replied with another question! People cannot resist a question, especially if it relates to them and what they've been saying. This is placing the situation into their laps, and if they are comfortable enough with it, they fling it back.
Get a reasonable amount of questions and answers pinging back and forth, and you have a discussion going. There is no reason why this shouldn't include banter or joking with each other. This is all part of building relationships with your readers and followers.
Bloggers can do the same. Why not add a relevant question to the end of your posts as a call to action? This needs to provide suitable suggestions for your readers to give them the incentive to leave a comment. In other words you're making it easier for them to respond.
People like seeing their name
They say the sweetest thing you can read is your name. Certainly this is something which would spring out at you amongst a sea of other words. It is a direct acknowledgement of the owner of that name, and says 'this comment is only meant for you'.
This is a fabulous way to get noticed. Greeting someone by their name instantly makes them more interested in you. This personal touch contributes to not only their approval, but relaxes them enough to want to respond.
Make a real effort to find out the name of the blogger or the commenter you are answering to. Unfortunately this may be more difficult for those who prefer to use pseudonyms or their company name. As this does reduce the personal element somewhat, carefully consider which moniker you use when commenting to build relationships.
All bloggers should make their names easily findable on their blogs. They can also enhance their name by signing off their posts or comments with it. This says 'this is who I am' as an acceptable form of introduction to anyone who reads their content.
Show your readers you care
One extremely powerful emotion is empathy. It is also very undervalued, overlooked and even ignored. But it is imperative it is used if you want to succeed in building relationships.
Using empathy shows you understand your readers or followers. It also lets the blog's author know you understand their plight, the subject they are writing about, and that you're totally on their side.
This feeling of solidarity contributes to the knowing and liking factors used to build relationships. Boost on this positive situation by sharing relevant experiences. If you can, make them more entertaining or educational through relevant anecdotes. These are then more likely to be read and understood.
As well as sharing your problems and solutions, or failures and successes, finish off by asking another question to encourage others to share their stories. If done right, this can show you identify with the original sentiments, and show there are plenty of other people in the same boat.
Take feedback at face value
You are always going to come across dissidence within commenting. This is the sort of world we live in. Not everybody is sweetness and light, many have an axe to grind, and there will always be some who are happy to express themselves in the most vehement of terms.
If you are met with criticism, accept it with good grace. You may not approve or agree, but it is worth stepping back to analyse why you received this objection. Perhaps there is an underlying reason which you could recognise and address?
The people who fare best in building relationships are those who can take negativity on the chin. They do not flare up in anger, resulting in flinging unsuitably undermining retaliation in return. They calmly ignore and delete it (especially if it is detrimental, disturbing or inciting hatred), or learn from the experience and move on.
The best way to build relationships is to spread as much positivity as possible. Your comments should be always upbeat and professional, and your posts well written and add value. Always offer something other people can benefit from, as this is more likely to be approved and accepted.
Use other experts at your disposal
Part of the process to build relationships is to recognise the expertise in others. Also the ability to share this altruistically around the web. This could be clicking on the social share buttons after reading an excellent post, or acknowledging or highlighting a particular point within your comment.
There are plenty of people with relevant skills who would value the extra bit of publicity you could provide for them. This process of sharing shows you have read and understood their contributions. And that you also deem it suitable to effectively distribute it so others can benefit from it as well.
Another factor of building relationships is to form a sense of community with other like-minded people. This involves bringing relevant personnel together in once place to discuss subjects at greater length, or merely to learn from each other.
This amalgamation of valuable information in one place, especially through the free rein of commenting on your blog, could result in an extremely informative resource many can use to further their research and educate their own readers.
Acknowledge your regular commenters
How nice is it to be happily greeted by a friend whenever you arrive on the scene! This is exactly the same response you should give to your loyal commenters who regularly return to provide their point of view.
In fact, this is something you should be encouraging, as it enhances the community element of building relationships. Remember to use their names and show your appreciation, as this definitely enhances the thanking process. It makes them feel wanted and needed, which in turn increases the comfort factor of hanging around your blog.
Contented readers result in more prolific comments. Creating this special membership gives them a sense of power above other readers. They will also be more likely to defend you should you get attacked by a troll, and will 'police' the situation with positive commenting on your behalf.
How you respond and thank them, and eventually reward them, will help you to build relationships for more views, comments, recommendations and solidarity which every blogger craves.
What do you do to build relationships?
Do you already perform many of the suggestions above? Or have I given you ideas for improvement in your process of building relationships? I hope you now see the value of commenting to build relationships with your readers, other bloggers and even influencers who could help you.
Let me know your successes, tips and experiences in the comment box below - we would love to hear from you.