is looking for ways to form stronger relationships with current and potential
members and customers. Improving your blog-responding techniques will help get
As we’re ushered into this age of social media, each and
every one of us is looking for ways to form stronger relationships with our
audience, especially with current and potential members and customers. Blog
comments are often a poorly understood and very under-utilized strategy. This
article isn’t about "How to get more blog comments,” but rather how to cultivate better relationships through
comments. Notwithstanding, the two do overlap, as you’ll see in the
#1: Write in a
personal voice. When done properly, writing in a
tone and style will immediately help readers feel more comfortable with an author, and this
comfort level naturally lends itself to readers considering leaving their
thoughts in the comments section or via email in a direct reply.
#2: Invite reader
response by asking questions. Studies have shown
that less than one percent of readers will leave comments on a blog, but this
number would be better if writers would simply ask readers their thoughts and whether they agree or disagree. Invite them to share further examples
that would help other readers.
#3: Don’t be a
know-it-all. Although it’s a good idea to be an
authority in your industry, be careful
not to be too over-the-top in your efforts to establish your voice, as
this will greatly hinder anyone’s desire to continue the conversation with you
going forward, especially in a blog’s comment section.
#4: Admit you may
be wrong. This is an especially powerful
technique for inviting discussion, especially if what you’re writing is an
opinion piece. By simply admitting you might be wrong in your opinion, you'll
come across as much more humble and approachable to your audience.
#5: Utilize an author
bio and photo. Including an author bio box and
photo is a tactical way for readers to get
a personal feel for the blog’s author, and therefore be more inclined to
leave a comment, share the post, etc.
#6: Say a simple
"hello.” A simple salutation is a good practice to use when
responding to blog comments. Just a little "hello” goes a long way in
building relationships with readers.
#7: Use readers’
names. If you’ve ever read the classic book How to Win Friends
and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, it’s likely that you remember his
thoughts on the power of using names. Carnegie states, "Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most
important sound in any language.”
#8: Show empathy. Often,
when someone is leaving a comment on your blog, they’re doing it because they
want to share about their problems/solutions, failures/triumphs, etc. If
someone discusses their struggles in their blog comment, always reply with empathy. Recognize what they’ve just told you.
This alone will show them you care
and will be a powerful relationship-builder.
#9: Ask further questions.
Other than simply responding with a potential answer, consider asking more questions to better
identify what is happening with the individual so that the solution you
come up with is the best one. Also, by asking these questions, the
individual (and other readers) will see how much you care and want to assist in
solving the problems.
#10: Invite other
readers to share their solutions. It’s one thing for
you and those in your association to answer all of the questions and needs of
those who comment on your blog, but it’s another to invite others in your membership to step up and give value to readers. When you have readers who help each
other find the answers they’re looking for, this not only takes the pressure
off of you to be the "end-all,” but it will also develop a sense of community. Be sure to make it known
to readers that they’re always invited to leave replies to other folks
when they can add value to the discussion.
#11: Respond with personal
emails. With most blogging platforms, a person who leaves a comment
must leave their email to do so, which is why it’s a great idea at times to personally reply to readers not just in the
comment section, but via direct email as well. As you might imagine, this
is a powerful relationship-building tool.
#12: Be specific
with your praise. If a blog reader leaves a thoughtful
comment on your blog with excellent points, take the time to point out what about the comment impressed you,
plus your additional thoughts. This will show the person that you truly read and appreciated the comment,
and in many ways will feel like a "reward” of sorts for their efforts.
returning commenters. Like the theme from the famous
TV show Cheers, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your
name.” The same feeling can be created within a blog’s community, and it starts
with your ability to recognize readers "as they come through the door.” So
if you see someone returning to your blog, make sure they realize you notice their return and the fact that
you appreciate the visit.
#14: Use a plugin/platform
that ensures all replies are read. There’s a good
chance that just because someone leaves a comment on your blog that they’re not
going to subscribe to all comments on that post, for fear of "inbox
inundation.” This is why it’s critical that along with giving readers the
option to subscribe to all comments in the post, you add a plugin that ensures they’ll get your reply emailed to them directly.
#15: Sign your name.
This little technique is surprisingly practiced by few
bloggers, but it certainly makes a difference. Just as you would in a letter or
an email, it’s a great idea to sign
your name to every reply you make to a commenter on your blog. Not only
will this allow them to know who is talking, it will also have more of a
#16: Respond! Although
I probably should have made this the first item on the list, I wanted to finish
off with it because everything we’ve talked about starts and stops with an
organization’s willingness to take the
time to respond to commenters. Now
granted, sometimes this may not be possible due to time and resource constraints,
but if your desire is to cultivate relationships through your blog, a reply to thoughtful commenters and readers
is an extremely important element.
Sheridan is a social media thought leader and
popular speaker. This article is excerpted with permission from an
article by him that first appeared in Social Media Examiner.