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!
Join the discussion 19 Comments
Nice article Carol. Funny, but I recently moved back to the “crummy” system – I did add a subscribe plugin to allow folks to track their posts, but I went back and forth on this for a while – one issue I had was that the bigger commenting systems consistently got dinged in my speed tests – granted my site is on a shared hosting platform so “blazing fast” is perhaps a 2015 goal…
Here is my G+ https://plus.google.com/+DavidGadarian – I’ll look forward to your stalking me over there : )
Oh noooooo not the crummy system!! I do get what you’re saying about slowdowns though. It’s one of those tradeoffs for features, but if it’s working for you then that’s what matters. Consider yourself stalked 🙂
Glad someone is saying this. Feels like comments have been ignored the past couple of years; yet they are the very heart of internet interactivity! Thank you!
I think sometimes it gets “over-said” – in a generic way that we ignore because everyone is saying comment comment comment. But if you stop doing it by rote and actually pay attention, it can be very useful! I’ve met a lot of people in comments I wouldn’t have otherwise.
All good points and stellar advice, Carol Lynn!
I don’t know about you, but I relish the bantering that sometimes goes on in my blog’s comment boxes. I have some loyal readers whom I can always count on for humorous exchanges that I wouldn’t trade for all the tea in China! I really love it when readers show that side of themselves. For them (and for me!), it’s a very comfortable and natural way to continue the conversation. 🙂
Back to your advice …
Hitting the big “publish” button on a post is just the beginning. Unfortunately for many bloggers, that’s also when the party ends. Have you visited blogs where blog owners never respond to comments? I have. And it never ceases to astound me. Let’s hope at least a few of them read your post!
I enjoy comments, too, especially when you visit 🙂
I don’t understand people who don’t respond. I have heard the arguments that some blogs are just so darn popular that the author couldn’t possibly respond to everyone and that it’s a place for “conversations” among the community. But I call BS because how many bloggers are at Mashable levels? Find the time or don’t create the community. My two cents. Do you know Adrienne Smith? She gets hundreds of comments and answers every. darn. one. Always. So it can be done.
Thank you for the input Carol Lynn, this is a great piece and points out some great tips. I think one of the challenges a lot of people face however is the consistency of these efforts.
You said it in the beginning, “it’s good advice and it works”. Many do, but then when the results are not immediate or less than expected it is easy to slide and then eventually stop.
It is about being consistent, do the work and connect a share. It may not always provide immediate results but it creates relationships and that is the power! Thank you again for sharing.
I think you make a good point about things only working if you DO them. Results are rarely immediate but the internet in general has created such a sense of NOW that we have a hard time taking the slow road to results. You really do have to be consistent and put yourself on a schedule or things will fall right off the radar.
I use the comment luv system – and I do love it.
I also use other blogs – particularly ones with comment luv – to meet new folks and visit their blogs. ‘The latest article’ link helps to me ignore blogs that are out of niches.
I don’t have that much time to spend on commenting, so I want to comment on blogs that are related to my own interests/niches.
Ah, yes. I have considered commenting on the existing comments (I don’t know, for some reason, it makes me nervous).
Might be because I consider doing it on new blogs (I mean, blogs I found recently).
I suppose that would be weird (trying to get in a conversation with 2 folks I don’t know! That is crazy!).
But, I will try this method..I am paying more attention to commenting anyways (one of the few things I love doing is replying back to my replies, which I think can help to build a stronger relationship with the blog owner).
Hope you are all caught up with blogging 😀
The good news is that I managed to get caught up (as much as possible, anyway!) so now it’s just a matter of staying on track. Although now that you mention it I do have a bunch of blog COMMENTS to catch up on 🙂
I’ve met some great people in comments (like you!) that I may never have met otherwise. I’ve made my way to some other great blogs, found new readers and new things to read. It’s a great place to be social right on your own website without relying on some other tool. There’s a whole world down here under the blog posts. I hope people don’t think that writing is the end!
So now I better keep getting caught up… lots of blogs to visit!
Good luck. I am trying to do the same (almost done, so it’s all good :D).
Same here…I’ve seen blogs with stronger content, but don’t have an active community (it is kind of rare though..since those who can produce that kind of content usually knows about the value of building a community. Then again, it might not matter to them).
Good luck 😀
All day I have been trying to get back to what I think is one of the most brilliant articles I have ever read on gold and by Carol Lynn. And the next thing I am going to do is study this article again. Thank you
Wow, that’s a heck of a compliment 🙂 Thank you, I appreciate that and I’m glad you like it! Would love to know if you try this idea out and how it works for you.
Another awesome post with a plethora of great advice!
I’ll be commenting away if anybody needs me!
lol, good to hear 🙂 Happy commenting!
I read the first half – the tips of using Disqus or CommentLuv are both valuable if you run a blog from wordpress, which I don’t. I just ran out of steam and need to shut down for the night but wanted to comment on two things:
The give and you shall recieve is true with everything – one I keep on using!
AND I love the last bit in the bio “planning her early retirement to Barcelona as a famous and wealthy novelist.” What a fantastic way to call the universe to supply your vision! Just love it ; )
Hi Joann, I hope you got some rest!
You can still take advantage of networking via Disqus or CommentLuv even if you don’t have them on your blog. You only haver to find blogs that do use them – or any comment system where you can find and follow or engage with people. You can create a Disqus account even if you don’t use the commenting system yourself so you can sill take advantage of the dashboard and find and follow people.
Glad you like my retirement plans 🙂
You’re so right about this, Carol. And the great thing about Disqus is that it lets you build relationships naturally, without your even having to try too hard. Isn’t that just the best way to go about it?
I’ve found that the more I comment on blogs that use Disqus, the more I’m able to find people to really connect with. Their previous comments give you an idea of their personality and help you asses whether it is a connection worth taking to the next level. If Disqus takes you to Twitter and you start following them (especially after a meaningful interaction on the blog), it is so much better than just a cold-follow.
Like Melanie pointed out, there are a few bloggers who do not bother to respond because they are too busy, and I’m so glad you called BS on that. If they do not make the time to connect with their readers (whom they’ve brought to their blog after a lot of hard work), they’re just foolishly throwing away the massive opportunity to build a loyal community.
Of course “Hey, great post!” type of comments don’t work, but you could respond even to those with a courteous “Thanks.” 🙂
You’re right about all of that! Especially about how those silly “great post” comments are not very effective. Not sure why someone would bother writing that, except maybe for the link? I like Disqus too, it’s easy to use and a good way to find people.
I do NOT understand why people would not respond to comments. I have heard the arguments – they say it’s a place for people to have a discussion, or for the community to talk. Well, as far as I’m concerned it’s YOUR community and it needs to run with you there. It can’t take all that much to add a few words to each person’s comment. And if you’re that darn popular then I bet you can afford to hire someone to vet the comments for you, huh?
That’s just my two cents! I would personally rather talk with people individually then let them talk by themselves. It’s like inviting everyone to the party then the host leaves the room 🙂