A Blogosphere Jaunt: On Comments, Connections & Community
“Think twice before you speak (or write), because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” Napoleon Hill
Recently, I was on SeededBuzz, a site that helps you to promote your blog, meet bloggers, and guest blog with others, when I came across a post by another member highlighting a 100 comment challenge that was starting quite soon. The blogger, Thu Nguyen, of Blogging For Dot Info, led me to another blogger, Jacinta of Creating My Business Online. I liked Jacinta’s guidelines which essentially was a call to action for 100 bloggers to support other bloggers (each other) by commenting on their blogs. Every blogger on the list can expect to get 100 comments. Each blogger follows the guidelines and leaves a comment for all participants; this maintains the integrity of the challenge.
I have since joined in the 100 comment challenge and another blogging group led by bc_bloggers_secret. I’m meeting and connecting with a new and varied group of bloggers which is great. Why? Because blogging can be a lonely endeavor and building connections with other bloggers helps you grow or soon you start to feel like you are talking to yourself. I know that feeling…
The exercise got me thinking about what the whole point of commenting on blogs means and whether, in fact, it is a viable way to build your blog, your traffic and your community online. Can commenting help or hurt you and your community? Can it help? Yes. Definitely. Can it hurt? It depends…
What is the point of commenting on blogs?
I did a quick Google search on the phrase “commenting on blogs” and about 13,800,000 results appeared in (0.20 seconds). Yes, a lot has been said on the subject and opinions vary on the purpose/power of commenting on blogs; see views from WebworkerDaily, Problogger, Copyblogger, and Chris Garrett here. While the jury is out on whether commenting will bring massive traffic and blogging influence our way, it is definitely a way to build community and link our blogs to other bloggers; some of whom will ultimately develop a meaningful blogging relationship with us.
People comment on blogs for many reasons: to raise a point, offer support, challenge an opinion, get blog comments back, get noticed, gain blogging karma, get links, to spam, or make a connection. When someone stops by and makes the effort to leave a kind word or two on our blog we ought to appreciate/acknowledge it by commenting back. Sure, it isn’t feasible, on a post with lots of comments, to individually respond to tons of messages flying in at once; that is why some bloggers respond to a selection from the group or add comments that respond to a majority of comments at once. Call it graciousness or consideration, it is an act of reciprocity and a good thing.
What are some areas of concern?
What is not good and defeats the point of establishing solid blogging connections is trolling around the blogosphere leaving spammy links and unrelated inflammatory comments. The chance of building meaningful relationships, community influence or positive feedback is greatly diminished when someone leaves spam. Even if you do it unwittingly, others might simply assume you did it on purpose and it could hurt your reputation. There is nothing wrong with filing a legitimate complaint about a product and getting a concern resolved; that’s the whole point of contacting customer service. Spam is different; it is usually out of context and directed at the wrong party. Avoid spam. Why do you leave Comments? Why do I leave Comments? That is an important question to always ask oneself.
What about our digital footprint/building influence/personal branding?
Our online activity, including our comments and connections build a footprint that follows us like a silent observer; recording all we do. We must manage our footprint well and know that we might unwittingly get associated with things that are taken out of context or that have nothing to do with us; some things you can resolve, others you just have to ignore and move on.
Copyblogger recently held a powwow with 60 top influencers on the internet and each gave a comment about - How to increase your influence on line. The answers given were poignant and varied but I think the underlying message was about showing people you care and making authentic connections with others; everyone wants to be heard and appreciated. Listen. Respond. With millions of blogs worldwide, people can only connect to a finite number at any given time. This means that one must graciously honor and acknowledge readers and guests who visit our blogs to support us. Listen, respond to a request, offer help and support back.
If we think of our personal brand on the internet and the message that we put out there, then, it is smart to manage our comments and check for clarity, consistency, language, grammar and the overall impression we wish to create. Perfection is not necessary just some effort. Sometimes I post a comment on a blog and realize, after the fact, that I made a spelling mistake or left a word out. Too late to recall it! It is best to double check our comments though we might still miss an error. When that happens, move on.
I love commenting on blogs as a way to support other bloggers, respond to an engaging topic and make a connection. I make an effort to add something in a complete sentence. Sometimes, the visit might be to just give a quick reminder to let them know I have completed a task as in “I am now following your blog via Google friends” or such and that is fine too… I also enjoy commenting, when I have something to add, on articles in the New York Times as it is another way to build /exercise our commenting muscles.
“Ask not what the blogosphere can do for you but what together we can do for the blogosphere.” Chris Garrett
Does every blogger allow comments? No. I can think of two top bloggers, for instance, Seth Godin and ZenHabits , who have excellent blogs with no commenting allowed and they are two clear examples of where influence and content carry the day. Developing great content takes planning, learning and effort…. Ultimately, the goal is to either have original knowledge/expertise or develop expertise in your subject or area of focus.
What about content? When I think of content, a saying comes to mind; “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” People read blogs for a variety of reasons; entertainment, knowledge, pass time, learn something new, connect with like-minded souls and so on. We blog to bring focus to the areas that hold and engage our interests and to dig deeply into those subject areas and write about them regularly. Content is an important factor in developing a blog that builds a following and lasts. Sure, it takes time but we can learn as we grow our blog and follow the advice and insights shared by two top bloggers, ProBlogger and Copyblogger. As we work towards building a viable blog with great content; tweaking it, making necessary changes, our blogging life will continue to grow.
How do you feel about commenting on blog posts?
Personally, I believe that leaving meaningful comments on a blog is an important way to interact with others and build connections. It is blogging etiquette not a rigid law. What is a “meaningful” comment anyway? Leaving a complete thought or comment that responds to the post at hand. I don’t think it has to be long or a repeat of the posts content but more of a conversation that continues the dialogue. I don’t get offended by the length or nature of comments on my blog because I don’t think we should control the direction or style of a conversation initiated by a blog. I leave complete comments/thoughts on blog posts but that is my choice. I also understand that people can get busy/lazy, are pressed for time or whatever reason they have and so the quick response is fine.
As long as there is a mix of other types of comments on our blog, we really don’t need to fuss about this. My tip to the commentator is: Don’t forget to imagine how you’d feel if your blog post was filled with one word comments … At the end of the day, it’s our call how we choose to comment or deal with comments. But how does that affect our digital footprint? Tremendously… Read the paragraph above. As per building influence, I think comments, content, connecting and gaining the trust and respect of others within your community, over a period of time, are key factors to consider. What are your tips?
What other points matter?
Clearly, blog commenting is a topic on many minds especially as we all want others to know that our blogs exist and we want them to read/respond/share/ our content. One of the joys of blogging is knowing that someone, somewhere, has read your post, and lingered long enough to say hello via a comment, a Twitter tweet or a social network bookmarking. What stands out in some of the posts I have read on the subject is that comments are appreciated, that commenting etiquette includes, responding to comments, rewarding top commentators, making some effort to say something other than Ditto! Great post!, and offering a complete thought related to the blog post. Our comments could be short but the idea is that one should make some reference to the post and share their point of view…
Are our comments left for posterity?
You bet. We can delete comments we made on sites where we have access/control, but on others blogs…? Well, no. If you plan to build a commenting history or make commenting easy, Cocoment or OpenID are great ways to keep track of what you say. My advice is that we must be vigilant. We all make mistakes, we get angry, but before adding a comment anywhere, we must make sure we are ready to stand by it forever. Remember that everything You say on the internet is … well, forever. What do you think?
“But if you find … people in your life that are like the roots at the bottom of (a) tree you are blessed. A tree could have a hundred million branches but it only takes a few roots down at the bottom to make sure that tree gets everything it needs. When you get some roots, hold on to them but the rest of it… just let it go. Let folks go.” Medea – Character from a Tyler Perry Play
Below, I have pulled together a few sites, communities, and projects that I have connected with as a way to develop blogging relationships, share comments and grow. This is not a comprehensive list and I will happily add more you share with me or as I remember/find others to add to the group. If there are any you’d like to recommend, please add them to my comments and I will update my list.
Have you had a unique commenting experience you’d like to share? What insights have you learned from blogging/commenting? Any tips and thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you!
All photos ~ courtesy of My Collection
Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©