In Conversational Marketing, Comments Matter

Filed as Features on February 22, 2008 6:55 am

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Do you respond to comments to your posts? Do you spend time making comments on other blogs? Have you set comment guidelines for yourself? It may be worth revisiting how you think about comments, both in terms of how you deal with the comments to your posts and those you make in other blogs.

In this age of conversational marketing, responding to comments helps you show your readers that you are listening and participating. That’s important especially if you are in the service business. The action of referring to the content readers share with you and addressing any further questions will set you apart. It shows your commitment.

As well, it will buy you additional permission to engage with your readers and tell them about the work you do. That is no small feat in an increasingly crowded marketplace where doing what you say you do counts more every day.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that many blog posts often gather the “great post” and “‘atta boy/girl” in the comments. That is when you are fortunate enough to get comments to your posts. If you are leaving comments like those in other blogs, I encourage you to reconsider. You may be depriving yourself of opportunities to develop relationships – and relationships are key in conversational marketing.

The main reasons why comments are by and large left out of a full social media marketing strategy are:

- being time starved. Social media and the wealth of projects these activities can generate are filling your days. That is good. There is only so much time you can dedicate to writing at other people’s bogs. You need to care for your own.

- testing the waters. When you don’t know someone, you are inclined to stay general in what you say. You are not familiar with who else is reading and commenting and are still getting to know the author. Will they respond? Bottom line: is this going to be a waste of time?

- being afraid of not sounding knowledgeable. The more popular the blogger, the easier it is for a new blogger to feel intimidated. After all, they are successful because they know so much more, right? Actually some of the kindest and most unassuming people I met are the folks who’ve succeeded beyond imagination.

There is also the issue of negative comments, which others have addressed extensively here. Let’s focus for a moment on the reasons I listed here and any other that you might have. Leave me a comment to begin the conversation on why it is a good idea to have a comments strategy.

Next post, we will talk about the tactical part.

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  1. By Cam Beck posted on February 22, 2008 at 10:02 am
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    As an avid commenter, all I can say is that inhibitions are lowered the more you do it.

    I don’t have a predefined strategy – I just go where the conversation leads me most of the time… but I make a concerted effort to go outside my comfort zone at least once per week.

    Reply

  2. By jon burg posted on February 22, 2008 at 10:13 am
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    Commenting is an essential piece of the blogging ecosystem.

    Unless you are getting tens of comments, failure to respond to comments on your own blog is sad.

    Commenting on other blogs is what builds this conversation we call “social” media.

    While I am comment frequently, I find the lack follow up annoying. On most blogs, the only way to view responses to the comments you’ve posted is by returning to that blog. If you read your blogs in an RSS reader (like Google), these posts are “marked as read” and never seen again.

    I see 2 potential solutions to this:
    – bloggers embrace commenting platforms that allow commenters to track responses to their comments
    - RSS/Feed Readers add a “mark as commented” button to blog posts, allowing users to return to posts they have commented on to view the subsequent conversation.

    Reply

  3. By Valeria Maltoni posted on February 22, 2008 at 10:18 am
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    I remember reading blogs for a long time before starting my own. Sometimes the discussion in the comments section would get very heated. That was interesting to me to observe that the passion would be directed at the person vs. the issue. Kathy Sierra’s blog comes to mind.

    My strategy is to read outside my subject matter environment. And yes, that stretches my thinking. Thank you for being first, Cam!

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  4. By Valeria Maltoni posted on February 22, 2008 at 10:25 am
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    Jon,

    Those are very good observations. My RSS reader is Google Homepage. Because I comment on so many blogs, I like to open the posts in the blog itself, instead of reading it through a reader or aggregator. I also like to see the layout in the blog view – it all fits together.

    So I end up checking a post I’ve made a comment on twice or more to participate with others. Or I leave the post open and refresh later. If I don’t get to the post to respond in my won blog, I try to send an email that acknowledges the comment as feedback. “I heard you” is also action.

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  5. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on February 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm
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    Excellent points, Valeria.

    My first rule of thumb before commenting is to BREATHE. I stop and take a deep breath, reread the post or comment I want to respond to, check that my temper and head are in the right place, and then ask myself: How can I best help the blogger, commenter, readers, and myself by the words I choose.

    Sometimes, my fingers speak faster than my brain, and that’s when I get in trouble. This black symbols on a page contain so much more than pronunciation indicators. There are emotions on both sides of the page that have to be considered.

    As a professional writer and blogger, EVERY word I write, on my blog, on other blogs, and in all the comments, is a reflection of me, my professionalism, my reputation, and integrity. Sometimes I feel like I’m virtually flashing, exposing myself to thousands. :D

    I have written often about how our blogs are not just about ourselves, but about the audience. Comments are the same. It’s not just our need to say something that’s important. It’s about the need to contribute and continue with the conversation and being a part of something special.

    Thanks for bringing this up.

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  6. By Valeria Maltoni posted on February 22, 2008 at 12:28 pm
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    I know you’ve written extensively about comments, Lorelle. And you are absolutely right. They are imprints that contribute to what our brands are about. When employed to the service of understanding, facilitating, coaching, and thinking together about issues, comments are as valuable as posts.

    Of course it depends on the blogger’s involvement with comments. I find that the more welcoming and responsive, the better and more frequent my comments are. Comments can be guest posts in and of itself – I’ve had great ones like that.

    You said something else very interesting there: “It’s about the need to contribute and continue with the conversation and being a part of something special.” The need to count towards creating meaning. Thank you.

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  7. By Lorelle VanFossen posted on February 22, 2008 at 3:23 pm
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    @Valeria Maltoni:

    In the end, don’t we all want to matter? Then we need to make our comments matter, too.

    Thank you.

    Reply

  8. By Valeria Maltoni posted on February 22, 2008 at 3:43 pm
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    Indeed we do!

    Shifting the focus from “what’s in it from me?” to “how may I serve?” helps with that, too. Networking can never fail because you keep creating more power sources that build on each other.

    Reply

  9. By Sami Adams posted on February 22, 2008 at 3:52 pm
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    I think comments are terrific, and they are the key attraction for some blogs and some bloggers.

    I love when I get comments.

    Blogs have created an open forum on the web. Everyone has a voice. …

    Thanks for the voice.

    Reply

  10. By Kemi posted on February 22, 2008 at 4:16 pm
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    I agree for the most part. I am bad with responding to comments and would like to be more active. It’s one on a short list of priorities that I am fortunately checking off one by one this month as far as my better blogging habits!

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  11. By Crystal posted on February 24, 2008 at 10:34 am
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    I wholeheartedly agree. When I first started my blog, I knew it was going to be about building relationships–not just posting comments and telling everyone, “Visit this site! Visit this site!” Just like in real life, social networking online is all about “who ya know” and who wants to link to your site. You won’t make as many friends by standing on the lunchroom table screaming, “Look at me!” as you will by mingling on their level and talking about real topics.

    A bonus on top of the obvious marketing aspect is that you really do get to seek out others with similar interests to your own and cultivate friendships or something akin to a co-worker setup. That can be rewarding to those of us stuck at home with little opportunity for face-to-face interaction (work at home moms, for example).

    By commenting on others’ work and responding to comments on your own blogs, you are forced to think of things you might not ever have thought about before. What’s that get you? New content.

    Since I’m new at blogging, I’m so appreciative when someone takes the time to comment back to me on my work, I’m thrilled to answer them. LOL

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  12. By Valeria Maltoni posted on February 25, 2008 at 9:59 pm
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    Welcome to the conversation, Crystal. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment and an example for us all of what a conversational marketing start is.

    You are well positioned to make friends through discussion – all over the world. Which is amazing to think about. I know sometimes time is scarce. Yet I found that adding of yourself in comments to posts by others encourages them to begin having a conversation with you at your place. You probably know about eMoms at home blogs. If not, you should check them out.

    Reply

  13. By Seb posted on March 7, 2008 at 10:14 pm
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    Thanks for the post… I used to forget to respond to comments on my blog. But now that I actively engage my readers in a conversation I’ve been watching my traffic slowly increase over time.

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  14. By Valeria Maltoni posted on March 9, 2008 at 6:17 pm
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    Thank you for joining the conversation, Seb. I was over at your blog and found many informative posts for anyone, at any stage of their life situations respects finances. Another way to increase your traffic if to engage with people in thoughtful comments to other blogs that cover your space.

    Reply

  15. By The Ida Express posted on May 15, 2008 at 12:16 pm
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    So basically you are saying to be nice to all we leave comments to–ridiculous! Blogging is for analysis, and if we can’t comment our opinions, there is no point!

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  16. By Tom posted on December 3, 2010 at 2:21 pm
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    Some blog commentator put their mind and heart on the blog post and express their own opinion on the comment box by filling it up. Some just visit the blog and fill up the comment form that their link site matters and say how great the blog is. Blogging should be give and take, earning respect is very important.

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  17. By Elite Process Works posted on December 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm
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    Some blog commentators put their mind and heart on the blog post and express their own opinion on the comment box by filling it up. Some just visit the blog and fill up the comment form that their link site matters and say how great the blog is. Blogging should be give and take, earning respect is very important.

    Reply

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