By Tiffany Monhollon
Most people’s journey into the blogosphere goes something like: lurker to commenter to blogger. In fact, there’s a concept called participation inequality that says that about 90% of people online fall into the first group, and about 0.1% of people into the last. But those who evolve through these phases know it is a positive, natural process that helps us learn the norms and customs of interacting within the communities we engage with.
When you get to the blogging stage of this process though, it’s important for your all your online communications habits to evolve with you, because your goals and tactics change when you move from a commenter to a blogger. To develop an effective commenting a strategy that can work for you, your network, your ideas, your blog, it’s best to start by understanding what doesn’t work. So in that spirit, here are the top five comments no serious blogger should ever leave.
1. “Great post.” Bloggers love affirmation, and there’s nothing wrong with these words in and of themselves. But there’s nothing really right with them in isolation. And you’re a blogger now, so when you’re leaving a comment, realize that your comments will be seen as an extension of your blog and your brand. And you want to be seen as someone with important things to say. So go ahead and tell the author it’s a great post, but don’t leave it at that. Ask a question, add some insight based on your area of observation or expertise, or add to the conversation in some way. Take the extra minute to come up with an engaging comment that will get the blogger’s community and the blogger involved with you on their blog, and you’ll start building relationships and enhancing your network, along with your presence online.
2. “You suck.” Popular bloggers have to deal with the reality that they may get personally attacked online. It’s not okay, but it happens. Personal attacks have gone too far, resulting in the end of some of the most popular blogs on the internet. So most bloggers (and loyal readers) don’t have any patience when they see people personally attacking other bloggers. So it’s a waste of your time, plus a pretty immature move, to put time into personal attack comments. Some bloggers will tell you that that stirring up controversy online is a great way to generate traffic, but don’t confuse controversy with slander, libel or malice. Telling people they suck isn’t exactly a great Personal PR move, especially as the web continues to evolve and regulate itself, so avoid this tactless, pointless type of comment, for the sake of your blog, your online identity, and the whole of online communication.
3. “You’re awesome.” These two words are nice, sure, but you really need to say more than this for a comment to work in your favor. That said, a lot of people rely on outright flattery as their sole commenting strategy. Mostly because it’s easy and safe. The reasons it doesn’t work are broad, but it boils down to that these comments don’t drive traffic to your blog, don’t help you build relationships with the blogger - who will most likely appreciate the thought but leave it at that - and won’t engage the blog’s readers either – they’ll just label you a suck up. Plus, there are more effective ways of demonstrating to bloggers that you think they are awesome – like, engaging with their ideas, expanding on their thoughts, or promoting their content to your network. If you’re going to compliment a blogger in a comment, make sure it’s wrapped inside an intelligent comment and not just a short, two-word high five. It’s worth your time to make your comments meaningful and thought-provoking while keeping them affirmative and encouraging.
4. “This sucks.” Sometimes, you run across whatseems to be the most ridiculous, idiotic post ever written. The blogger’s base is way off, and you’re agitated to the point of posting a long, lambasting tirade. Especially if they’ve involved you in some way, say, by linking to a post you wrote or bashing you, your company or your ideas. Now in this instance, a lot of bloggers will tell you to let it all hang out. But there are some very high profile cases in which this has happened, and it’s turned a blogger’s community against a commenter. If it’s that important and you want to risk it, that’s up to you, but I’m telling you, it’s a really bad Personal PR move. There are better ways to effectively handle ideas you disagree with online. Unless you want to be the Alec Baldwin of your blogging community, avoid a posting out of outright rage and instead opt for a mature and respectful disagreeing stance. Think about what you would post on your own blog before you leave comments on a post you disagree with, and if you wouldn’t bring it to your community, don’t leave it in someone else’s. Because you usually can’t erase those words once you’ve hit “submit.”
5. “I’m awesome.” This is perhaps the one of my least favorite types of comments. Yes, often worse than even uber-negative comments, because those are more easily dealt with (usually, deleted). I really cringe when I see people leaving comments that add nothing to the conversation and serve only to toot the commenter’s horn, to link to their business or service, or to promote their own projects. People see right through them. Unless that’s the specific request of the blogger in the post you’re commenting on, avoid this type of comment. Shameless promotion that doesn’t add to the conversation doesn’t get you far with most bloggers, or their communities. And it can get you classified as spam. So learn to walk the fine line of self-promotion online by leading with your ideas. If you’ve got something insightful to say, people will follow you to your blog, your product, or wherever you want them to go.
Taking the time and thought to craft a meaningful comment can seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it because commenting is one of your most powerful tools for blog outreach and for Personal PR. So avoid leaving these five types of comments, and keep in your mind that as a blogger, your comments are an extension of your blog, your brand and your ideas. Treat them as seriously as you do the content on your own blog, and strive to truly add to the conversation wherever you’re writing online.
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By Tiffany Monhollon | February 13, 2008