I was very pleased to be invited to have a conversation about commenting with Laura Donnelly. I've been following Laura throughout Lockdown, with her quiet, soothing voice imparting wisdom and calm through those troublesome days.
She invited me initially to talk about my new book, "How to create a Commenting Marketing Strategy", but we got waylaid with other issues, as you do! If you want to listen to our conversation about commenting, here's the video below:
Bloggers need reactions to their work
There is nothing more despondent than working really hard on a blog post, social media update or anything else content based, only to hear crickets or see those dust balls that bounce along a desert floor.
All content writers, of any description, value, are inspired and thrive with comments – in fact, any kind of response. Some may be happy with a like, or an appropriate emoji may make their hearts flutter, but what really gets them going is a conversation within a comment.
Comments can include questions about the content, a request for clarification to make it more understandable. A simple act of showing appreciation can go a long way. And even a disagreement can arouse the writer sufficiently to allow them to defend their point of view.
What's within a comment?
Commenting should develop into a conversation if it is going to survive. If you can develop a conversation about commenting, all the better. Here's the chance for the reader to tell the writer about their experiences relating to the content. If the information is relative, people will want to know.
Commenting should be seen as a social pursuit, not just as perfunctory. Similar to writing your content, your comments should tell a story to make them interesting to others. How can you present your point of view from a different angle? Are you able to provide more relevant information which will continue the conversation?
Anyone who makes an effort to leave a good comment needs to do a bit more than a mere acknowledgement. Tell the author what affect their content has had on you. Make them feel they have achieved something by imparting their knowledge and let them know how you have benefited from this.
Who are your readers/commenters?
A writer who comments should present their offering as if they are talking to the reader, not as to himself. Anyone who reads this should be made to feel wanted, needed, appreciated, and therefore compelled to leave an answer. This is how you get discussions going – by showing an interest in anyone who is interested.
Use commenting to get to know your readers better. Your content needs to be adjusted to compel them to reply, but the process shouldn't stop there. Read their comments carefully, understand what they're trying to say, and develop it into a conversation about commenting which could become something more.
Change your brain to want to communicate better, more positively and considerately. Creating conversations with your readers will allow you to find out what they want you to write about, and allows them to feel comfortable enough to offer suggestions and ideas in return.
What outcomes are there from commenting?
Laura asked if any fascinating events happened because of commenting. I remembered a lively conversation on Twitter which got me invited to a marketing seminar. If this hadn't occurred, I would have not been any wiser about the event. Commenting is a great way of making connections online.
Even though a comment can initially feel one-sided, it will suddenly come alive if there is a relatively immediate response. This may not be possible on blogs due to moderation against spam, but within real-time commenting on social media, this is much more likely.
Be ready to reply immediately, if someone responds. If the commenter is important, take a further step by emailing them personally, or finding them on social media and communicating with them there. If their interest in you was genuine, your attempts at making contact will be much appreciated.
What else is commenting for?
Commenting can be adapted for business purposes, hence why I wrote my Commenting Marketing Strategy book. You can use it for research purposes through social listening, to check out what your customers are thinking or to find out what your competitors are doing.
Sometimes the process of sitting in the shadows to listen, watch and learn what others are saying can be very useful. Gathering this kind of data could make a difference to your business, your products, services and even your customer relations. Remember people buy from people, so using the human touch can go a long way.
Commenting is much easier than writing long content. If your conversations become lively and relevant, you could transform this into a successful post later. Taking the trouble to have a conversation about commenting will allow people to feel more comfortable with you or your business, which will translate into better trust and loyalty.
Trouble with commenting on social media
People tend to forget it's 'social' media, and that it isn't a one-sided invitation to say what you think or what you want. Everybody has the right to disagree, but it will be more beneficial if it is done in a kindly, forthcoming and positive way. This calm attitude allows people to clarify their opinions in a much more pleasant arena.
Laura touched on group interaction being on the decline, especially on LinkedIn. The algorithms in social media seem to be set against reasonable reach to allow friends to comment. Prolific engagement, regardless of quality or relevance, is given precedence, leaving others penalised for not having sufficient value to be shared.
Relying on robots to make decisions on what is important means the human element of 'social' is being eliminated. Moderation is necessary against spam or worse, but it is automated. Conversations will only thrive if humans are allowed to moderate humans, and decide which content should be channelled in the most appropriate direction for them.
People need to be able to respond and engage with people on topics which are of interest to them. Conversations shouldn't have autocorrect versions suggested, we are quite capable of forming our own sentences, thank you! Customer relations should be substituted with chatbots which take you round in circles or offer irrelevant information.
What quick tip can you offer about commenting?
The most important element to focus on who you are commenting to. Find out the author's name and use it to greet them at the beginning of the comment. This will immediately bring you to their attention, and shows them you want to make a connection. It will also make them take your contribution more seriously.
Being personal and treating them with tact and respect can go a long way. It shows you have made an effort towards them, you aren't just commenting for the sake of it, and this humanity effort allows us to authentically show who we are with kindness, thoughtfulness, relevance and appreciation.
Let us know what you think about this post in the comments below. We have touched on many elements within our conversation about commenting, and if you would like to know more about them, or anything else which has inspired you, please let us know and I will write about them.