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…
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.
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.