How to Respond to Comments on Your Company Blog

by Shannon Paul on October 12, 2008

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:

How to Respond to Comments on Your Company Blog

View more presentations from shannonpaul.

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?

Leave a Comment

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

October 12, 2008 teamclermontrocks

I enjoyed reading your article about free content making money – well written! I am both a business consultant and Fitness Trainer/Nutritionist and find that it is really important to give free information. Short E-books on pertinent topics, some free workouts, and short talks all help build credibility and trust in a professional and give the consumer the ability to work long-term with the professional and refer others. I am at and


October 12, 2008 Jamie Grove - How Not To Write

In my day job, we implemented a customer retention strategy based on the same principles you list under benefit (except for #4). Not only does it work, but the numbers are pretty astounding.

I suppose this isn’t surprising though since the concept of ancillaries has been around forever. What’s changed is the distribution medium. Since delivery via email is free (or close enough), it only serves that some of the content should be free and we should focus on selling something different. This is the heart of Chris Anderson’s new book “Free.”

Going totally free is not in the cards for us, but the abstract concept of a cost efficient distribution medium changing the fundamental nature of a particular business is sound.


October 12, 2008 shannonpaul

@teamclermontrocks Glad that’s working for you. I can see how sharing your expertise helps win clients.

@Jamie, thanks so much for sharing this. I would love to see a case study when you’re finished with the analysis.


October 13, 2008 Lisha Sterling

Whenever I read things like this, my mind goes to the creative work that I do and to the technology oriented work that I do. I never think, “Oh, yeah, this applies to my skating!” (probably because these days I think of coaching as my “hobby” — I only teach about 4-5 hours a week now.)

@teamclermontrocks reminded me that this is *exactly* the sort of thing that I do to draw in new ice skating students. At my previous rinks it was a part of the skating school business plans to provide free help from coaches on certain public sessions. At my current rink, I had to fight the management to stop from getting in trouble for giving that kind of help for free. They came around, though, when they realized that they were getting more return customers AND more requests for classes and lessons on the sessions where I gave help and advice like how to stay upright, how to go backwards or how to do a two foot spin. Now, on busy sessions they try to have at least two guards on the ice — one to keep an eye out for problems and one to help newbies get the hang of things. It’s just good for business.


October 13, 2008 Ari

This goes back to the age-old concept of giving away samples to get people hooked on your product and wanting to buy more.

The biggest complaint I have with the new on-line version of this is when a “free” download is nothing more than an excuse to contact me for a sales pitch. If you believe in your product, let me try it out and, if it’s as good as you believe, I’ll be back. Don’t turn me off with the hard sell.

I always tell my public relations students, “If you have to sell your story too much to a reporter, there’s probably not a story there to begin with.” The same principle applies to any product you’re pitching.


October 13, 2008 Scott

Radio has been giving away content since the beginning. Sure, we sell ads, but the cost to the end user is zilch. Radio has also worked with record companies to give away music via on-air giveaways of CD’s and concert tickets.

The idea is simple – if they give us (the station) concert tickets to give away we talk about the show. A listener attends the show and you can bet they’ll tell more friends. At the show they might buy a CD or t-shirt.

The same applies to playing music. The record companies supply the song to the station, the station plays it and the listener hears it for free.

If a listener hears something they like you can bet they will try to find out more. Trust me, not a day goes by that I don’t get an email, IM or phone call about a song we’ve played.

Why is online any different?


October 13, 2008 Mind Booster Noori

As a musician, I give my music for free, and all of it is licensed with a Creative Commons license. Not only this creates awareness to my band, but also lets people “try before buy”, which led me to 1) more sales, and 2) being able to get revenue from “ad-supported free” services like the ones ReverbNation and provide.

But this isn’t new. Picking the example of a big band: do you know Marilyn Manson? Of course you do, everyone heard about it. But did you know that while he got signed in 1993 to release the first album in 1994, he grew a huge fanbase and got his deal thanks to a big number of free demo tapes he used to give to anyone who wanted them? That’s right, free is the way to get fans, and more fans give you more money.


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