Comments are the lifeblood of a successful blog. They are the evidence of a thriving, robust online community.
Comments are great for you and your website, but there are several principles that many bloggers fail to understand when sharing comments on other sites. If you forget about these concepts then your comments will diminish from your online reputation.
On the flip side, if you pay attention to these concepts, others will appreciate your participation in their conversations. They’ll be grateful for your input at their blogs. Additionally they will value you and likely visit your site.
The most effective means of communication is face to face. Look a person right in their eyes and a conversation’s impact will be magnified. Since we can’t literally speak face to face on a blog, we should still be working to provide our readers and our followers an experience that is as close to that as possible. Each of the following principles revolve around this concept of face to face communication. Our goal, as Chris Brogan calls it, is to be human at a distance.
- Use a Real Name: You’re going to begin building your credibility throughout the internet as you present yourself as a real person with legitimate value to add to conversations. For more on this read Your Name, Please. It’s Asking For Your Name.
- Use a Gravatar: Gravatar provides a unique service that allows you to associate an avatar with your email address. If you take 2 minutes to set this up then every time you leave a comment somewhere on a Gravatar enabled blog, your image will automatically appear alongside your comment. This is a powerful tool toward accomplishing the principle of face to face communication.
- Use Complete Sentences: You should be working to present yourself as an intelligent authority online and you’re not going to do that by throwing around incoherent pieces of jibberish. Unlike a real conversation, you actually have the opportunity to stop and proofread your responses before putting them out there. Do it.
- Minimize Web Slang: In a chat room, web slang seems like the standards but on blogs about serious topics web slang makes you look like a juvenile.
- Avoid self promotion: If it’s really, really on topic then it’s alright to make a mention of one of your articles in your comment. But if you mention a piece of your own content more than once for every 100 comments you leave then it’s probably too much. If you do feel absolutely compelled to make mention of something you wrote you should provide a couple paragraphs of relevant conversation in your comment to provide context.
- Stay on topic: If you need to get in touch with the blog owner about something unrelated to the post at hand then use the contact page. Don’t post an unrelated question on a post. It makes you look very unprofessional.
- Ask questions: One of the best ways to get people to engage with you and to respond to your comments is to invite them to do so. Ask questions of the author and of the other participants in the conversation.
- Respond to the Comments of Others: Most people tend to engage only with the author of a particular audience. In my mind, this is like several people standing in a room and each person takes turns speaking only with the host and nobody else speaks to each other. That would be silly. In reality, one person would say something, which would prod someone else to add something, and then a third person, etc.
Here’s your end of class exam. Here’s your chance to practice what we’ve learned. Leave a comment and let’s see how well you’ve connected with these principles.
While you’re at it why don’t you share some of your commenting experiences? Which principles did I leave off of the list? Which ones do you disagree with?