Feature and Share Comments To Build Brand Community
There's been a lot of discussion recently about whether or not bloggers should still have Comments on their blog posts. And I can understand the dissenting point of view. With strong discussion platforms like Google+, and the non-stop barrage of spammers, maintaining and moderating a discussion community within your own can be not only daunting, but an actual drain on resources.
So for those of you who are still interested in using and encouraging the conversations and engagement that can happen on your site if you have comments, I want to offer you a couple of ways that you can make those comments and your time spent cultivating relationships with your readers worthwhile.
When you first start blogging, comments are few and far between. But once you've established a reputation and a regular audience of readers, you'll find that every new blog post gets at least a few comments. As the number of comments grows, so will the depth and quality of those comments. That's when you know you're on the right track with your blog, and it's time to up the game with those comments.
When you see a comment from someone that's particularly good, feature it. Now, if you're using the Disqus comment system like I am, there's an actual way to feature the comment. It's a new option that I really like. In the upper right corner of every comment there is an icon for a menu that gives you access to edit, etc., and included there is the option to Feature that comment. When Featured, a copy of the comment is placed above the entire comment system, making it really stand out. The original comment, with any replies, is left in place but also highlighted and noted that it is featured.
This was a comment from Randy Milanovic on my article, "Scheduling Google+ Posts, The Complete Guide." There are over 75 comments on that post and thread, but Randy's has now risen to the top with the increased visibility.
This is a great way to really draw attention to something insightful that a reader commented, ensuring that other readers will notice it without having to scroll through all of your other comments.
If you're not using Disqus, that's OK! There's no rule that says you can't update your article. Take a moment to edit it, copy and paste the text of the comment out of whatever system you're using, and highlight that comment somewhere within the article. Maybe that's at the bottom, or maybe there's a great place within the text that the reader's comment really makes sense to insert. It doesn't have to be the same place all of the time, so be creative. You might even make a quick graphic out of the quote and embed that into the text.
I also like using the Disqus Featured Comment as a means to provide an update to one of my posts. I can add text within the post as well, but if there's been a lot of discussion, adding a new comment may alert readers who have been following the discussion. This is particularly useful on blogs like mine where there are often new developments related to past stories.
Featuring comments like this helps promote your readers and really shows future visitors to that article that you're paying attention to your readers and that you're interested in fostering a strong relationship with them. And some readers might be really pleased and impressed when you feature their comment.
The other fantastic use of comments is to use them as social media quotes and shares.
Again, there's an option built into Disqus for this, though it's just as easy to do manually.
When you find a quote from a reader that is awesome and would look great as a post to social media, Disqus provides a "Share" option that, when you mouse over it, flies out Twitter and Facebook icons as well as a Link icon. Click either network and it will open a standard sharing dialogue box, or use the Link button to shift your browser to the anchored link for that comment.
You see, with Disqus, every Comment gets it's own anchored link within your article which looks like [your url]#comment-[unique ID number]. If you get email notifications and click on a link to reply to a comment, that's how you get to that new comment, specifically, even amongst many, many other comments. With that link, you can share it to other social networks, email, or even use bookmarklets like Buffer's or HootSuite's to send that link and your post to social media. Just make sure that you highlight the quote first. With Buffer, that text will then be used as the social share automatically, while with HootSuite you'll need to copy and paste.
I've begun to use this technique to feature some of my readers and their brilliant comments, as they make me and my blog posts look even better. If you have the Disqus system, it will automatically put quotes around the comment text and include the reader's name. But of course, if you don't have Disqus, you can just as easily set all that up yourself manually with just a few extra seconds.
You can use this to promote your readers as well as clue your other readers in to the conversations and discussions that are taking place on a particular article. While I love the discussions that I have on Google+, there's something to be said for the commenting that takes place on my blog post that isn't network-specific, and won't be lost once that initial social share loses momentum. With blog comments and discussions, readers can visit a post that's months old and jump into the conversation.
Of course, the primary reasons for having and allowing comments on your blog still remain. People who post comments are generally either giving you feedback, which you will find valuable, or they're asking questions, which offers you an opportunity to shine. I love it when readers ask me questions on my site, since I can take the time to offer as great an answer as I can come up with which they'll appreciate, as well as other readers. And I can't tell you how many ideas for new blog posts I've gotten as a direct result of the comments readers left on other posts. Either through their questions or suggestions or the resulting discussion, it's helped to spur me to write more and more. (So thank you, readers, for that! Keep up the great work.)
What are some of your ideas for how to use the comments your readers are leaving? Leave a great idea, and you just might see it Featured on this post.
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner - a title he invented to represent his holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blogging, social media, email marketing and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales. He is an award-winning Blogger, Speaker, and Author at The Social Media Hat, and Brand Evangelist at Agorapulse (formerly CMO at SiteSell).
As Brand Evangelist, Mike works directly with other social media educators, influencers, agencies and brands to explore and develop profitable relationships with Agorapulse.Follow @Mike_Allton