How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships
How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships

People are always talking about building relationships but how do we do it? Are we overlooking the one thing that could be the biggest relationship builder of all? Blog commenting.

Relationship building is definitely one of the most important parts of business success both online and offline. As customers we want to get to know the people we do business with before we hire them or buy from them. It can take months, even years for businesses to build strong relationships with customers but when they finally bloom you’ll have an ally for life.

When I’m asked about building relationships online the tools that always come to mind are Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. But there’s one tool that I know I’m neglecting and that’s blog commenting.

How to leave blog comments that work for your business



Pro-actively posting meaningful comments on other people’s blogs is an amazing way to build relationships with influential people in your industry.

So why don’t I do it more often?

My big excuse is that it’s time-consuming. As we know time is not something small businesses have a lot of. It’s so much easier to send a 140 character tweet or leave a quick comment on Facebook than it is to compose a decent comment in response to a blog post.

To leave a good comment you have to:

  • Read the blog post
  • Find something worthwhile saying
  • Compose your response
  • Spell check it (if you are me)

That’s a lot of work, it’s no wonder so many of us put it on the long finger.

Is the effort worth it?

Sometimes it might not be

There’s a blog I follow. I think I found it because it too talks about blogging. The first time I visited the site I was impressed, she had loads of comments. Immediately I was envious, why didn’t I get as many comments?

I followed the blog to try and find out.

It soon became clear that I’d made a rookie mistake. I’d looked at the numbers but I hadn’t looked at the comments. When I did I started to wonder why people were commenting. The comments weren’t bad but they were meaningless.

When I started looking at comments in general, I realised that there are only a few bloggers who get good quality comments on their blogs.

I suspect the blogger I was following was using a ‘Comment ring’. That’s a group of people who get together and comment on each other’s blogs in order to grow the number of comments they have.

I’m not totally anti this idea, I had a comment ring of four people once. The idea was that if people arrived on our blog and saw a comment they would be far more comfortable commenting themselves.

Our ring didn’t last long but it also didn’t work. I got comments from the group but very few otherwise.

We also run a comment thread in the Small Business Bloggers Facebook group. I have found this useful. We’re a small, supportive group and people will leave comments even when it’s not the allotted comment day or thread. The comments left have been valuable too and it’s becoming a good place for me to craft my commenting skills.

All this is great but as a business we need to be more strategic with our commenting.

A couple of weeks ago I listened to a CopyBlogger podcast hosted by Sonia Simone ‘How To Write (Much Better) Blog Comments‘ and I took it as a call to arms.

The value of commenting

Building relationships with potential customers should be one of the most important goals you have as a small business owner. Blogging and social media are great for this. You can get to know them, assess their needs, find out what problems they face and produce content that answers them.

The problem is, you are only reaching one person at a time.

I’m not for one minute suggesting you should stop building relationships with customers. What I am suggesting is that you take some of the time you assign to this to building relationships with the people who influence them.

This isn’t really a new concept. I’m sure if you are in business you’ve already started building a list of press contacts that you’ll send press releases to? And you’ll know that if you get to know those people better before you send your release they are more likely to give it a look?

It’s the same deal with influencers except you don’t need to send them a press release. Get to know them, and provide valuable content and they could well start talking about you without needing to be prompted.

If the right influencer shares your stuff, instead of reaching customers one by one, you’ll be reaching a whole bundle of your customers at once. Even better, because the influencer is a trusted source of information you’ll become trusted too.

Building relationships with influencers goes beyond them sharing your content. If you become friends with the smart people in your industry you’ll learn a whole lot from them that will benefit you and your customers in the future. If they know your customers or people like them they’ll have good insights into what makes them tick.

Creating a blog commenting plan

If I managed to persuade you to give it a go don’t just go on a comment frenzy. Using blog commenting effectively IS going to take time so you’re going to need a plan.

When people hear the term Influencer they think Kim Kardashian but she’s not going to be of any use to most of you. When I talk about influence I’m talking about the individuals who appeal to your target market and compliment your business.

You’ll need to choose these carefully. If you haven’t spent time creating a basic customer persona yet go do it before you start. I covered this back in episode 14.

Finding influential bloggers

Do some research. Find some people online who match your personas. What blogs and online publications do they read? Which to they look up to the most?

Make a list of blogs and online sites that are relevant to them.

If you’ve been following this blog you may have already done the work. Listen back at episode 62 for more on content discovery.

Once you’ve compiled your list subscribe to those blogs in Feedly or by email.

Setting a time

I’m a big believer that if you don’t set a regular time to do something it won’t happen. Or at least it won’t happen enough.

This, I admit has been part of my problem so I’m going to set mine now and you can hold me to it.

Monday is content day at Spiderworking so I’m going to slot it in at 12 noon, just before lunch. I’m going to allow 1/2 an hour and lunch will be my reward.

It’s your turn, get out your diary, your iCal, your Google calendar and set a day and time and set a reminder.

Now for the hard bit…

Writing comments

If you are a natural born writer or conversationalist you might find this bit easy, if like most of us you’re not it’s going to be more challenging.

Before you start typing your comment remember why you are doing this. It’s not just a challenge, you actually want to build some sort of relationship with the blogger and for that reason you’re going to need your comment to stand out.

Read the post:

  • What is it’s key message?
  • Do you agree, disagree?
  • Do you have an anecdote that supports or otherwise?
  • Does the post tap into an emotion?
  • What are other commenters saying?

Your answers to these questions are cues for your own comments. If you can write a blog post you can write a good comment.

Don’t type your response straight into the comment box.

There’s nothing worse than crafting a great comment and hitting publish only to get a website error. Your comment could disappear and never return.

Writing your comment somewhere else beforehand (I use Written? Kitten!) also helps the spelling challenged like me. When I read it back I’ll spot my typos and another plugin indicated errors with little red lines. That saves me lots of red-faced moments.

Finally, add your details.

Most sites will require your name and email address (which isn’t published) and your website address if you have one. If they ask for a web address it’s a good idea to add it. The blogger can follow that link back to your site to find out more about you.

If you are prompted to sign up for follow-up comments do, you’ve opened a conversation make sure you can see when people respond.

I’m just scratching the surface with advice here. I’ll come back and do another post once I’ve mastered the art. Until then listen to Sonia’s podcast episode on Copy Blogger.

Challenge

I’ve set myself the challenge. 1/2 an hour every Monday devoted to commenting on the blogs that matter. Will you join me?

Let me know below if you are joining in or if you’ve found success with blog commenting.

 

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How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships
How To Use Blog Commenting To Build Better Business Relationships
  • Katia Valadeau

    Two points from me. The first one is more of a question. Would I be right in thinking that comments on a blog are good for the forever fight against high bounce rate? Do they also work in terms of SEO? Does Google look at the amount of interaction on a site?
    The other point is that commenting on other people’s blog posts shouldn’t be about just courting influencers. Excellent content writers start blogs every day. As we know the cream will always rise to the top, and I feel somebody you help along or made feel welcome when they started will be forever more grateful thanks someone who may already be used to the validation. And who knows, they may, one day and in turn, be of a great help to us.
    Finally, and just a personal opinion (yes that’s 3 points now) I find comment rings to be the devil and so often embarrassingly transparent in the blogging community. I’ve never seen one pull me in to a conversation. But as you say there is an art, which I think is often forgotten, to writing comments.

  • Great points Katia,

    As for SEO the words in long comments will be indexed so for the person who’s post you are commenting on it could be good. Links within comments are no follow. I’m not enough of an SEO head to know if Google looks for interaction on posts though.

    Your point about new influencers is bang on. I actually hate the word influencers in it’s modern context but there’s no better way to express it. I know there have been some really successful brands that have spotted good bloggers from the start and they have done really well. It’s a risk investing that much time in an unknown, it’s a gamble but it could pay off if you pick the right people.

    Yeah comment rings are pants, my comment thread wasn’t designed as a ring and it’s good but I’m not sure I’d want to get in deeper. The comments I see on blogs are so pointless and add no value. 🙂

  • Dr Hows Science Wows

    I really do need to do more of this, often I read on my blogs I like on my phone, away from the laptop and, for a variety of reasons, when I do comment, they don’t post correctly. I need to schedule some real time at the laptop for commenting I guess, although I like to do it as a treat, reading posts I like when work is finished for the day. I like the idea of finding ‘influencer’ I’ll have to look into that one, makes a lot of sense when you point it out.

  • I never know what to say…surprisingly enough. Mostly, especially with your posts Amanda, I go through nodding my head at things in agreement…so when it gets to this point…I am genuinely lost for words. Must do better! 🙂

  • That’s a very good point. It is really hard to comment from a phone and I think that does put people off.

  • I also need to work on opening the conversations better!

  • Jill Holtz

    Very useful analysis Amanda and I love your suggestion to slot in half an hour of commenting time (with lunch as reward)! Like any strategy you have to plan for it.

  • Thanks Jill, I find things only get done when I make regular room for them in my schedule. I’m looking forward to this task.

  • It would be a sin not for me to leave a comment on this one! Several big blogs have disabled comments because they’ve been inundated with spam comments. However, if we are all smarter about leaving thoughtful, personalized comments, I think fewer blogs will follow suit in the future 🙂

  • Robert Scott

    Look here the best 10 solid business for your business to service providers in the Delhi and NCR region.
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  • There’s an interesting tactic where bloggers only leave comments open for a week after publication. It could be a good compromise if the volume of comments was too much to handle.