For so many people nothing feels scarier than opening up yourself and your business to reader comments on a company blog; even seasoned bloggers recognize the difference between blogging for yourself and blogging for your business when faced with the challenge.
Over the past couple years, I’ve had several conversations around how to manage comments — not just the workflow with respect to approving, reading, responding — but also the perspective necessary to have thick enough skin to distance yourself a bit from the sentiment or opinion being expressed.
Forget sentiment (mostly)
One of the things I tell prospective business bloggers is to forget about getting people to agree with you all the time, but rather, focus on maintaining the momentum of the conversation you started and guide it back to staying on point. It’s not important whether everyone agrees with you, but it is important to acknowledge and appreciate reader participation, keep the conversation interesting and to guide the conversation in the desirable direction.
The good the bad and the ugly
If your only experience with comments is on your local newspaper or YouTube, you probably don’t have a very good opinion of user generated comments. The good news is that with most blogs where the author participates, this is not typical. If building an online community is your goal, blogging can help if you have a plan in place to foster participation.
- Good comments are those that move the momentum of the conversation
- Bad comments can be thin, spammy or try to bait the author
- Ugly comments are profane or abusive toward the author, other readers or anyone else
The thing I like about defining comments like this is that it removes sentiment or agreement out of the equation — a comment that sharply aligns with the opinion of the author (and is even complimentary) could fall under good, bad or ugly depending on how the agreement and opinion is expressed.
Good blogs encourage healthy conversation — they don’t try to stifle it.
For more on how I train people to think about and respond to comments on company blogs, check out this slide presentation I put together awhile back and recently posted on Slideshare:
Taking it one step further
The reason I decided to post this is because I found so little out there on the subject of responding to comments — there seems to be a lot of advice on how to get people to comment in the first place, but having consensus on how to view and respond to them should be something we at least think about up front.
This presentation might be very basic for lots of people on this site, so I’m interested to know how you might be helping people on your team get comfortable with the dialog that social media engagement implies.
What would you add to this presentation to help others understand the best way to engage with readers on your company blog?