Is commenting like content writing or copywriting?

content writing

I received a guest post pitch about content writing for this blog, which, of course, I turned down, because it didn't refer to commenting.

But then it got me thinking. Hang on a minute, couldn't commenting be connected to content writing, and also copywriting, forming a bridge between them?

There are many similarities. It has all to do with intent, method and outcome. Commenting sits in the middle, a forgotten, neglected and much misunderstood form of communication to potential customers.

How is content writing like commenting?

People often get confused about content writing and copywriting. Hence why I created these two infographics. Here's the first comparing content writing to commenting:

Is commenting like content writing or copywriting?

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.

Education, entertainment, inspiration

Comments are so much better when they are used to change someone's day. They could answer a question, fill in a knowledge gap, solve a problem, provide empathy or appreciation, or simply explain something so it is easier to understand.

Content writing is created for this purpose. There is this product to talk about, a service to promote, a method to explain, a how-to post to create, all of which require an extensive amount of well-written prose to get the message across.

But wouldn't it be easier to do this in small bite-sized portions, using language people can easily relate to? You certainly don't need to write a novel in a comment, just enough to test the waters, gain attention, help someone for the better and make a connection you hadn't got before.

Getting people to know you better

Commenting is a great way to form an alliance through improving a situation. Forget about yourself, and just focus on who will read your comment. What can you say to make a difference? Which bit of value could you offer to turn someone's day around?

Content writing has an ulterior motive to promote something, which it does by thrusting it under people's noses. Heavily emphasising on the benefits, features or whatever, the focus is all on the company, writer or brand. It may be written to be helpful, but it is still intruding in people's space.

Whereas commenting should frame the introduction in the reader's point of view. Use the same words, put yourself in their shoes, ask questions to get replies, suggest opinions to get a response, and all the time acting in a friendly manner. If you want to build a relationship, welcome them in with open arms.

Having a more substantial say

There is a continuing debate about how many words are the optimum in content writing. Many marketing gurus spout forth about over 2000 words being the answer, and certainly some SEO plugins suggest more than 300 is the way to go.

However, all this writing takes up time. And the writers need to have not only thoroughly researched their subjects to find something to write about, but be practiced enough to put it into a coherent and entertaining format people will want to read.

Whereas a comment could say all of this, but without the need to spout chapter and verse. Think of commenting as a method of writing a précis, a concise summary more suitable for time-poor and attention deficit readers, delivered in a way which is more appealing and understandable.

A longer-term reference point

Content writing, if done well, has the advantage of being available for research purposes, cross referenced with other articles in the same subject. But, as we all know, there may be thousands, if not millions, if similarly written pieces, all clamouring for the top space.

Commenting on these articles, usually found on blogs, has the advantage of allowing you to continue the conversation in the same vein. Here you can add your own version, fill in any knowledge gaps, and acknowledge the prowess of the writer whilst enhancing your own reputation at the same time.

Social media commenting will easily disappear within the other noise. But if accompanied with suitable hashtags and other get-noticed methods, there is a good chance your comment will be found as a result of a search for the relevant keywords.

But how often are you found?

If your content writing is destined for print, as it was in the old days, its lifespan will be limited for as long as it is exposed to suitable readers. However, converted to pdfs or ebooks gives your hard graft a better chance of being seen by a wider audience, along with blog posts shared on social groups.

Commenting is a much freer affair. Depending on whether you managed to be one of the first to contribute, or to stimulate a lively and entertaining discussion, your comment has a good chance of being re-read if the blog post it is attached to is popular enough.

Consistent and relevant commenting all contribute towards popularity. This in turn stimulates the algorithms in social media to increase the post's reach, placing it in front of more potential readers and commenters. Any content writer should relish having thriving comments associated with their work.

How is copywriting like commenting?

Actually the practice of copywriting ruins how commenting should be done. Here's the second infographic which should help explain copywriting over commenting:

Is commenting like content writing or copywriting?

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.

Convincing customers to take action

Copywriting is all about persuasive tactics. The main objective is to get the reader or customer to take action. And preferably the right kind of action you are striving for.

This is what you would call pushing tactics. Pushing the content, uninvited, unwanted or whatever, under the noses of unsuspecting people in the hope it will attract their attention and they will take the time to notice it and respond.

Commenting should not be about promoting your business within an intolerant environment. Nobody likes unsolicited links placed unceremoniously within irrelevant comments in the vain attempt they will get published. These links will be automatically no-follow, and are more likely to be prevented by moderators.

Setting an attractive trap

Successful copywriting knows exactly which words will trigger the desired reaction. Thorough research will have been done to find out people's preferences, focusing on emotional scenarios which people can relate to, especially within their own circumstances.

Commenting also thrives on empathy and emotions. These are used to tailor how to respond to a post, or to another commenter. This affiliation with opinions and points of view will ingratiate yourself within their community, and enable more replies which may develop into a discussion.

However, commenting works best with pulling tactics, gaining the trust and respect of whoever reads them, and suitably inspiring them to find out more about the writer. These people are inspired to take action without persuasion. It is curiosity which tempts them to click on the commenter's name to access their blog.

Is less more in this case?

Copywriting is designed to take up less space, because of the media it is destined for. There is no need for fancy phrasing, scintillating sentences or arresting alliteration! The type of language used matches the urgency, the fear of missing out, the benefits of acting now!

One worded or very short comments immediately fail. These are just noise for the sake of it, and do not contribute in any way to the conversation started by the post. The tactics used by copywriting are not suitable here.

Think of commenting as an extension of copywriting, or a précis of content writing. There needs to be a definite beginning, middle and end, including greeting the author, acknowledging the subject, providing something of value, and thanking or promising action in the closing paragraph.

Here today, gone tomorrow

Time is of essence for copywriters. Their material may be seasonal, in response to trends or news, or focusing on the launch of the next product or brand. Their aim is to get a response to their call to action, preferably aimed at the right people, pinpointed for rapid success.

This may work for the bitty, ping-pong scenario celebrated by social media commenting. Working in real-time means instant conversations, so there is no need to compose full paragraphs, or even bother with spelling and grammar. Communication is the key here, as long as each party understands each other.

Commenting works in a dialogue environment. Copywriting is pushing in a void. The only way they know it has succeeded is if the sales increase. Whereas comments which trigger discussions and attract people as a result, who may contribute themselves, results in measurable material suitable for future success.

Do your comments represent content writing or copywriting?

This depends upon what you want your commenting to achieve. Do you want to gain awareness of what you can offer your readers? Are you willing to provide pro bona help to increase your reputation? Is forming relationships within your readers important to you for future connections and contacts?

Both content writing and copywriting strive to get positive reactions from their audiences. This could be clicks on buttons to buy stuff, or clicks on links to subscribe to newsletters. Comment writing could focus on stimulating the readers to click on their name to gain access to their blog to read more of their posts.

At the end of the day, we want people to do things. It is the tactics used which determines success. Copywriting may guarantee quicker results, at the expense of possibly pissing people off along the way. Content writing, along with commenting, takes the slower approach of enticing people to respond on their own terms.

Why not buy my Kindle book: How to create a Commenting Marketing Strategy, which incorporates much of what I have said in this post.

And let us know what you think about this post in the comments below. We look forward to hearing from you.

Alice Elliott
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