Every business wants to be seen by their customers. The main focus is to rise to the top of the pile so that your business is picked out first.
In the past it used to be listings in directories, so if your business name began with an A, it was usually first in line.
Now businesses have to jostle to be noticed, and becoming more prominent in online visibility seems to be the answer.
What is online visibility?
Online visibility is how your business's brand or products are presented within the competition. It is a tough world out there, particularly if you're small or just starting out.
The first task is to make your website findable so you get relevant traffic. There are many ways of obtaining lots of 'hits' on your website, but none of these are helpful if they aren't from potential customers.
So one of the functions of online visibility is to increase the reputation of your business. This is to allow your customers, past, present and potential, to know, like and trust you better.
What tools should you use?
The usual expectation is a website with its own blog and customised social media profiles and groups. Even though these are valuable, it's what you do with them that counts.
Combining commenting with online visibility requires good writing skills. It is also necessary to put aside enough time to read blog posts and social media updates properly, without resorting to skim reading them.
You will also need to have empathy, knowledge about your subject, a desire to learn more, and a lot of tact. Oh, and patience, as you may come across blogs and social updates that are unsuitable to comment on. This means the search for quality content can sometimes be quite tedious.
Where should you go to get visible?
The first point of call is social media. This is the most obvious destination, however, it is a vast world that can become overwhelming. Even though there is plenty of content and contacts out there, it isn't that easy to connect with them.
A good alternative are blogs, even if this form of interaction is often overlooked. Using this platform does, however, require a different mindset. Commenting on blogs is hindered by not being in real time, and the need to write a bit more content.
Ideally you should understand who your ideal customers are, and what they are talking about or looking for. Find out where they are most likely to congregate. Use tools like Tweriod to find out when your customers are most likely to be online.
What are your objectives?
Increasing your online visibility means getting your business to stand out above the competition. But if you don't have a huge budget for advertising, you will have to resort to interacting with potential customers instead.
Interaction means talking to your customers. Your main purpose is to get them to notice you for the right reasons. You present various ideas and concepts that makes them look at your business rather than anybody else's.
Commenting is about creating better relationships with your customers. This allows you to improve the quality of connection you have with them. Communicating through comments is a way of developing both your and your business's popularity.
What techniques can you use?
Commenting is about continuing the conversation. The conversation already started in the original post or social update. So it's important to remember to be relevant and not only talk about yourself.
Conversations work better in the format of gossip. Now this doesn't have to be trivial, it can be as interesting anecdotes or unique stories your customers can relate to. Bringing your comments down to the same level as your customers will have a much higher impact.
You need to be mindful of how your customers think. What is in their heads right now? Can you agree, sympathise or acknowledge this within your comment? Is this something your business can provide or solve for them?
What's special that makes a difference?
Your online visibility will be enhanced by adding value to your comments. What can you share from your wisdom that will make a difference to your customers' lives?
Work out which keyword is prevalent within the original post or update. Usually this is the most obvious phrase, but sometimes the focus could be completely different. If you are able to weave that into your comment, it will help you, the author and the search engines.
Ask a question to get yourself noticed, or to stimulate a discussion with the other readers. If this generates some interaction, and you manage it well, it will draw more attention to you.
Which obscure actions are helpful?
Feedback is always helpful. It doesn't have to be in agreement; negative comments are useful as long as they are relevant and carefully constructed to avoid undermining the original post or update.
Sharing the source of your comments shows good will towards the author. It also has the added benefit of exposing your comment to a wider audience These may either be your potential customers, or they may know someone who could be.
However, directly promoting by linking to your business within comments is not tolerated. It can be seen as spamming. The answer is to provide value and help to draw attention to you for the right reasons. Then readers may click on the link behind your name to find out more about you and your business.
What are the obvious benefits?
It is important to understand conversations are important to your customers. This is how they get to know, like and trust you, especially if you converse with them naturally and without a hard sell in the background.
React to your environment. Copy the ambience of the original post or update. Showing empathy means you understand the situation. This shows you're human and not just another faceless business trying to generate more online visibility.
This in turn allows you to understand them as much as they about you and your business. This will help develop your popularity, which could naturally spread further to a wider audience of potential customers.
Want to learn more about online visibility?
Remember commenting to increase your online visibility is not a quick fix solution. It doesn't involve going in one day and interacting like crazy, and then forgetting to return the next.
Commenting success is a method in progress that develops over time. It thrives on both consistency combined with a strategic approach. How else are you going to know if it works or not?
These are subjects we explore and cover in The Commenting Club, a special community for those who wish to find out more about how commenting can help them or their business. There is so much more to commenting than you realise...