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Content marketing, blog promotion, engaging… liking, sharing, pinning… providing value, being visible, listening…
You may be doing some or all of that and more. I bet you’ve read at least one article about how to network, build relationships and boost your social efforts. But today I want to share one simple idea that is often either glossed over superficially or ignored completely, yet if you refocus with just a little bit of attention it can be a goldmine of opportunity.
And here’s where you can find this little pearl: in blog comments.
The Usual Overcooked Advice
I probably don’t have to tell you that commenting on other people’s blogs will help you get to know the blogger, share your insights, establish your value, find influencers, blah blah blah. You may have heard that in any number of places.
It’s good advice – and it works.
Ask me how many guest posts we accept from people we’ve never heard of, who don’t read, never comment and only show up with an idea and a “please”?
Ask me how many requests for help I answer from people who haven’t bothered for a moment to be part of our community?
The point is that by making yourself visible and valuable, you open up doors.
But that’s not what I want to tell you about. Tuck it in your hat and save it for later.
What You’re Missing
The underutilized beauty of comments is that there’s a whole network of people who have already demonstrated interest in a topic, who have already expressed and opinion on that topic, who are already online, being visible, building relationships and who are just waiting for someone like you to come along and add your own brand of value to their lives…
They just don’t know it yet!
How To Mine For Gems
You’ll rarely find a worthwhile, reputable blog that uses the crummy default WordPress option. No, we’ve got far more sophisticated commenting systems and different ones provide different opportunities.
A comment system like Disqus (which we use here) allows you to see all the activity of a person across all blogs in the Disqus network where that person has commented. The wonder of this little gem is that not only can you then visit those blogs, where you may find more great comments, more great information and more opportunities, but it’s a giant waving flag telling you just what type of content that person is interested in. What a perfect opportunity to provide some!
You can stop guessing where your readers hang out and what they want to read. You can simply follow their comment trail.
Another nice thing about Disqus is that you can follow someone and then all their activity will be posted on your network dashboard so you don’t actually have to follow them around the web – their movements will come to you.
A comment system like CommentLuv opens up another opportunity. When someone comments on a blog, the URL of that person’s last blog post appears beside the comment.
Now you not only know what that person is reading but also what that person is writing. With some foresight you can ferret out people who are in a niche that you want to target, who share similar ideas, or who just seem like they could use some help – your kind of help.
You can easily subscribe to those people’s lists or add them to your RSS feeds and have your own listening station, just singing out loud and providing you with opportunities to connect, to engage and to build strategic relationships.
Most comment systems also allow you to opt in to notifications whenever a new comment is posted. This is a pretty good way to keep tabs on the competition. Find a competing blog and follow along to find out what their readers say and think and want. Apply that knowledge to your next blog post or your editorial calendar so you can plan to entice those very same readers to your corner of the woods.
You’ll probably notice the same people popping up over and over. Figure out which ones fit your target and stalk… er, I mean follow them as they traverse the blogosphere to learn about what they want and need. Join in on conversations that matter.
NOW Do The Commenting Thing
Once you’ve hyper-targeted your efforts by finding people who fit your niche, it’s time to make your entrance to the party. You can do this by commenting on their blogs but you can also do this by commenting on their comments. In other words, keep the conversation going. Commenting on comments is so much rarer – and that makes it so much more noticeable. Not only have you taken the time to read a post but then you’ve read the comments and found one so darn worthwhile that you graced it with your attention.
I’m being a little melodramatic here, but you can probably imagine that people like to be noticed. Give and you shall receive.
Take It Beyond The Blog
Once you find, follow and listen to commenters, get off the blog and start building your networks. People who are visible on blogs are most likely visible elsewhere. Find them. Make yourself a Google Plus circle of engaged commenters. Start a Twitter list for the same.
Of course, don’t be a creepy stalker about it. Remember, this is a relationship-building exercise. You need to engage people before you connect with them elsewhere or you’re just some random guy in a giant, raging sea of random guys.
But if you’ve played it smart, if you’ve done the whole commenting thing, if you’ve subscribed to their lists and answered their emails, then it’s only a short hop to “Let’s connect on LinkedIn” or “Join my group Pinterest board”. Use your imagination.
There’s another nifty perk of mining comments and that’s the plethora of ideas for content just begging to be written. Every question, every misconception, every doubt, every difference of opinion is ripe for another blog post. In fact… wait for it… this post was born out of a comment!
So don’t just look at comments as another thing calling your attention or an obligation you must address. Look at them as a relationship building and social marketing opportunity.
Use them to find out what your audience is doing. Use them to find out where your audience is. Use them to build a network of people who fit your target market, whether you’re looking for potential customers or collaborative opportunities.
There’s a goldmine just waiting for your shovel. Now, go leave me a comment and let me know what you think. I’d love to stay in touch and keep on connecting with you!