But what makes a good blog comment? How do you go about "joining the conversation," as multitudes of well-meaning people are constantly haranguing you to do? Is there a science to it? An established theorem of blog commenting best practices? What's a business blogger to do?
Let's take a simple, mathematical approach to commenting on other people's blogs.
Add something useful, new, or interesting to the conversation. Easier said than done, to be sure. But avoid leaving comments just for the sake of leaving comments, especially those that add nothing to the topic at hand.
Example: While everybody likes to be agreed with, try to go beyond a simple "I agree" in your comments. What exactly do you agree with? Was one of the points made by the blogger more persuasive than the others? Which arguments were less persuasive?
Added benefit: Blog comments offer a great opportunity to show more of your human face to the readers in your space. A personal anecdote goes a long way in contributing something truly unique and valuable to the conversation that only you can add. Share something of yourself, your background, your expertise.
Subtract any gratuitous self-promotion from your blog comments. If you have a truly relevant blog post on your own site, then by all means refer to it, but only after summarizing how and why it is relevant to the author's post. Avoid talking about your own products and services on other people's blogs.
Example: If you sell accounting software, and the author of another blog writes about a tricky tax question that your software helps answer, try to answer the question in a simple, layman-friendly way and help the readers of this blog understand the issue better.
Added benefit: You've just uncovered a blog post that is dying to be written on your own blog. Write in more detail on your own site about how to approach the tricky tax question, and link back to the article that sparked the idea for the post.
Multiply the positive effect of your comments by referring (and linking, where appropriate) to the blogs, comments, and contributions of others. Draw connections and parallels where others have not yet pointed them out. Promote the good work and insights of other commenters, and be specific about what it is you value about their contributions.
Example: If you sell signs and banners, visit the blogs of graphic designers and artists who design for the commercial sector. Talk about what you admire in their designs, and why these principles are important in business signs and marketing.
Added benefit: You might find some bloggers in a related space who might be interested in guest blogging for your site. Adding diverse voices to your blog increases the readability and potential audience for your blog by a surprising amount.
Divide your attention among blogs in a number of different spaces -- not just the one your own blog occupies. What types of blogs do your customers enjoy, when they are not thinking fondly of you and your products and services?
Seek out a number of different worlds that might be of interest to your customers, your partners, your vendors, your friends. Visit these blogs as frequently as you do those in your own segment (if not more), and contribute thoughtful remarks to these conversations as well. Avoid confining yourself to your own little "echo chamber" by frequenting new and exciting different neighborhoods in the blogosphere.
Example: If you sell pools, and write a blog about pools and hot tubs, find some blogs that discuss outdoor home decorating, home gardening, lawn sports, and other related leisure activities.
Additional benefit: These sites might give you ideas for posts of your own: what kind of furniture do you need when you own a pool? What kind of food might you serve poolside this summer? What are some tips for keeping your skin safe from UV rays during the warmer months?
Add, subtract, multiply, and divide. It all adds up to a great business blog, and to creating a strong and helpful presence in the blogosphere that builds your brand's reputation, authority, and good will.
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