Understanding the purpose of engagement and commenting online

purpose of engagement

Why should we do this?

It's all very well me going on about commenting. But until you understand the purpose of engagement online, you probably won't do this as much as you should.

Just like with any task or process, it can be seen as a chore or another useless item to add to your continuously growing to-do list. Until you know why you should be doing it and become aware of the benefits it can bring to you or your business.

Any function becomes more meaningful once the full implications of doing it is better understood. The infographic below explains why you should embrace the purpose of engagement and commenting online.

Understanding the purpose of engagement and commenting online

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.

You want more comments, right?

It's no good sitting there moaning because you're not getting any comments on your blog or social media updates. There is such a huge number of people online, all talking to each other. Why should they notice someone who isn't getting any engagement?

This may sound like a really cruel thing to say, but it is reality. If you want to attract more attention, start interacting with someone else. Write a positive comment about them, not yourself. Say something kind, relevant or appropriate about what they are doing. It may be only a tiny squeak in the darkness, but if you persevere, eventually you will get louder.

Understanding the purpose of engagement is the necessity to improve your presence online. It is not about noise and bluster, but about giving before you receive. It's about talking to people first, leaving comments which stand out above others because of their value, helpfulness, relevance and ability to say the right thing appropriate for the situation.

You want people to see you are socially active online?

Social proof is when your readers or audience notice you are successfully engaging with other people online. You have come out of the shadows and are regularly talking with your followers about all sorts of subjects. Conversations are not limited to what you're doing, but need to focus on what others are doing instead.

It's a bit like revealing evidence you have a following, a readership who regularly visits your blog or interactive fans on social media. The more engagement you do, the more noticeable you will appear. Thus becoming more convincing to others you are somebody important and your content is worth reading.

It is important to have social proof. Bloggers who closed their commenting facilities soon realised no comments meant no social proof of having a readership. You need to be as open as possible when engaging online, as well as omnipresent in as many places where your best audience is likely to be.

You want to come across as popular?

Social proof also has another benefit, it helps build popularity. Becoming popular, and being able to benefit from it, is a very powerful marketing tool. This can have a huge impact within the purpose of engagement and commenting online.

Popularity triggers larger audiences. Having a lot of people interacting on your blog or social updates indicates there is something interesting going on. People are always intrigued by large groups or happenings, and curiosity gets the better of them. They also want to become part of the action, so will be more likely to join in.

If you want to increase your popularity, you'll have to regularly interact with your friends and followers. Reply to all their comments, show you care about them, acknowledge their feedback and take action on the suggestions they give you. Successful influencers online all do this. And the extremely popular ones have large teams working for them to keep the engagement flowing.

You want to beat those pesky algorithms?

Here's another benefit about popularity. Not only does it encourage more follower participation, it also gains the attention of social media algorithms and search engine spiders. These are also attracted by increased activity, as this suggests worthy content which deserves better reach and higher rankings.

Algorithms and spiders are mathematical programmes designed to assess engagement through the amount of activity, number of conversations and how many people are involved. The more interaction they find or are exposed to, the more this stimulates how they respond, or reward, the instigator of all this activity.

However, it is important to bear in mind algorithms and search engines aren't human. Numerical statistics cannot recognise quality, value or impact gained through meaningful conversations online. Nevertheless, successful bloggers and influencers know exactly how to encourage multiple interactions from their followers to increase their popularity stakes.

You want to get in front of more people?

A valuable response from algorithms is increased reach. This is particularly so within social media. You could post the most fantastic content in all the world within your groups, but it will be hardly seen by anyone if it hasn't obtained enough reach.

Reach is granted to whatever the algorithms deem is worthy of being read. And to them popular content, content which has achieved lots of engagement, must be worthy, or people wouldn't comment on it. Therefore it should be placed in front of more people to give them the chance to engage on it as well.

However, to get more people interacting with your content, you need to engage with them first. It's all about increasing the reach of their content by encouraging conversations with other people, thus making it more popular. By focusing on the quality of your comments to get noticed, hopefully some will return the favour and comment on your posts.

You want to impress your readers?

Getting people to engage with you means showing enough interest in them. Totally focus on their content, and engage on it without mentioning anything to do with yourself. Your sole aim is to place the spotlight only on them, because doing this will make them notice you more.

Your comments need to be relatable, relevant and realistic. Level up with your readers to make them feel more comfortable with what you say. This can be accomplished by finding an affinity with them and how they think, understanding what their aspirations are and searching for similarities on how they view the world.

Try to write in a way which directly speaks to them. Use the words 'you' rather than 'I' or 'me'. At this moment they are the most important, so make them feel this to get them on your side. Relationships are built on trust, which only comes through having a mutual understanding of each other.

You want to know what interests them?

It's not worth talking about what interests you, as nobody will want to read this. This is where most businesses fall down. Their comments focus on themselves or their products, rather than how they could help their readers or how the products could benefit them.

One thing you could do is social listening on social media. This is when you sit in the shadows to read, watch and listen to what's going on with your readers, customers, followers or whatever. The idea is to learn what makes them tick, what interests them the most, and what they complain about, before you join in the conversation.

Then you focus only on them. You commiserate when they moan and join in their celebrations. You answer their questions and solve their problems. The last thing you talk about is yourself, your business or your product/service, or you'll lose their interest in a nano-second.

You want your readers to trust you?

The purpose of engagement is communicate with your readers or followers. To develop their minimal answers into conversations. To spark discussions which makes other people join in. The idea is to break down barriers, introduce the comfort factor, and get to know, like and trust each other (as in a networking situation).

Another purpose of engagement is to make your space on the web more lively, more interesting, more viable for those who visit it. Turn it into a go-to venue for information, inspiration or just a good time. Form a community where everybody supports each other, as well as a friendly face offering a resolution or the result which they crave.

And a third purpose of engagement is to create a group of super-fans who will stick with you, advocate for you and help you as much as you help them. Engagement works best when it is two-way, when it is reciprocated, when you work out your problems or celebrate your successes together.

Now does the purpose of engagement inspire you?

The main trouble with engagement is it takes time to cultivate. And persistence and consistency. Many people may think "I haven't got time for this!", but what is the alternative? How would your business or personality evolve without any feedback or interaction from others?

None of us work best in a void. There is something fulfilling about having a loyal crowd who are ready to support you in any way they can. Humans are sociable animals. But we need to understand how to be sociable in order to attract engagement. Especially since social media is so busy and it's easy to exist without being noticed.

It's time to start being more social. Step out of your comfort zone and start communicating! Talk about what the other person wants to talk about, focus on being relevant, useful and memorable, and you'll soon build a following who will happily join in your activities and help increase your visibility.

Let us know in the comments below your experiences or stories about what you think the purpose of engagement really is, and how this has affected you.

Alice Elliott
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