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.