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Writing blog comments: 20 ways to make a powerful connection

Do you have a clear purpose in mind when you’re writing blog comments?

Driving traffic to your site is one but there are lots of other reasons to invest time in comments: getting to know other people, exchanging ideas, establishing your brand, having fun.

Knowing your purpose makes a difference to the way that you write. It also makes it easier to overcome any blocks and barriers you might have in writing - and leaving comments is one area where a lot of people can feel shy, awkward or tongue-tied.

The main purpose that I have in mind when I’m writing comments is to create a connection with another person - whether that’s a reader here, or an author whose site I’m visiting.

Why? Because those connections can turn into something richer and deeper: into e-mail conversations, talks on the phone, guest writing exchanges, ideas for writing workshops, collaborative projects, new client contacts, and who knows what more besides.

And how can you write comments to make those kind of powerful connections? Well here are 20 things that work for me

On your own site

1. Answer every comment I could just stop here. This makes the biggest difference - and I can’t believe how many people leave their comments unanswered, even on sites where there’s only one or two comments there. You’d think they’d love the chance to open up a new conversation! Of course this one gets more difficult on high volume sites, but why not make sure you acknowledge every contribution by a round up that acknowledges every individual and answering @ their name?

2. E-mail first time commenters Send an e-mail to anyone who’s called by for the first time - it strengthens and consolidates the sense of connection. I remember all those bloggers who took the time to do this with my comments.

3. Establish rapport Think yourself into the position of the person who wrote to you – what did it take for them to leave that comment? Time, courage, generosity, a leap of faith? Acknowledge it, quietly, in your reply.

4. Visit their site Learn something about your readers. Leave a comment in return. If you don’t have time to write chances are they’ll still see your picture on their site and know you’ve popped by

5. Make your comments personal and specific If someone is commenting regularly take the time and care to remember what they’re up to and interested in, what their site’s about, things they’ve said before. Make some reference to these things in your reply - it establishes a powerful sense of connection

6. Highlight positive contributions You can pick out the most positive contributions from your commenters with round-up posts picking out some of the things people have added, like new ideas or their best “how to” suggestions. Say thanks with a link back to those who’ve added to the conversation on your site

7. Learn The most creative way to keep writing, sharing and blogging is to learn from your own readers - value the questions, the conversations, the feedback. Use them to inform future posts, both directly and indirectly. It’ll help your readers to feel included and drawn in

8. Invite regular commenters in Breathe life into your blog by inviting regular commenters in to do some guest posting. I found this really strengthens the sense of connection - with people who’ve written here, and people that I’ve guest written for elsewhere

On someone else’s site

9. Focus on the positive intention This is an easy trick to get over shyness or awkwardness - focus on the positive connection that you want to create with the other person. Let that drive your writing

10. Mean it Write because you feel a sense of connection with the author not because you think
it’s a ‘good idea’ – because there are lots of other people visiting the site, because it’s got a high page rank or high volume traffic. You won’t just create a more powerful connection - you’ll sound more authentic and enjoy the experience a lot more too

11. Maintain rapport It has been known for people to go overboard with comment writing. You can break as well establish rapport with your writing - so watch you don’t push yourself so far forward that you’re irritating other people (site owners or readers) with over-exuberant commenting, always being first in line or repeatedly including links back to your own work

12. Say something positive It’s not that hard - focus on the positive in the work that you’re reading

13. Be consistent This comes back to rapport - be consistent in the way that you comment around the blogosphere - will people recognise your voice as ‘you’ - will they get a sense of the person behind the words, and start to feel the connection as a consequence?

14. Simple things make a difference You’re not going to create a powerful connection by flitting round the place writing “great post!” everywhere - there’s nothing personal or specific about it at all. But don’t let that get in the way of saying some of the simple things like “I enjoyed that” or “thank you” or “that spoke to me, I appreciated it” - especially in low traffic/low comment sites (where your words might make a big difference), when someone’s linked to something you’ve written, or when it’s heartfelt (sometimes there’s nothing more we can say)

15. Ask a question This is a simple yet powerful way to show that you’re interested and paying attention. Asking a good question can take the conversation one step further and often lead to a blog post on the back of it. Questions are great fodder for posts

16. Go back and see if the author replied For one, it’ll give you a signal about whether you want to spend time there again. (No answer tells you a lot) For another, you might get a pleasant surprise about the comment you get back from the author and site owner - and that’s how the sense of connection strengthens and develops

17. Play back the words that ‘spoke’ to you I do this a lot - as part of my comment I’ll pick out a sentence or maybe even just a few words that ‘spoke’ to me. It’s a powerful way to give feedback - showing that you acknowledge and value someone’s words, but also acknowledging the reaction in you, which makes the connection personal

18. Write with rapport Think yourself into the position of the person who wrote the post, where they were coming from, then acknowledge their words, ideas, pictures, contribution in your reply

19. Remember your words leave a trail – make sure it’s one you’d want people to follow

20. Choose to comment It really does make a difference

Those are some of the things that I do to make a connection. How about you?

What are your best commenting tips for creating rapport and building a connection with other bloggers? What approaches have you seen other people use - and what kind of connection did it create?

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Comments

  1. Marek says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on writing comments.

    It looks like we have a week of comments articles in the blogosphere. :-)

  2. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Marek, indeed, I think there must be something in the air this week :-)

    Thanks for stopping by and saying hello - gave me a chance to enjoy some of your stunning photography!

    Joanna

  3. Emma Bird says:

    Joanna

    Your writing is always bang on theme for me. II needed this one.

    Thanks :-)

  4. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Oh that’s good Emma.

    And look where commenting on each other’s blogs has taken us…

    Joanna

  5. Emma Bird says:

    Indeed!

    I hope you blog something about where connections take you as part of this month.

    Oh, and in relation to your post to Facebooking and only keeping it to that, I can’t do without MySpace or Twitter either. And I’m now getting into Second Life, too.

  6. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Emma, well you’re always one step ahead of me… You’ll have to tell me about Twitter and Second Life some time - or come and write about it…

    Joanna

  7. Jeanne Dininni says:

    Joanna,

    You’ve presented some excellent points here-in a very well-thought-out post, I might add! You’ve definitely managed to capture the essence of what blog commenting is all about and what’s involved in making it meaningful. Hopefully many will follow your advice!

    Thanks for sharing it!
    Jeanne

  8. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Thanks Jeanne

    I think it does all come back to your commenting purpose (like any purpose that drives your writing) - and for me I can’t think of a better one that writing to make a connection :-)

    Joanna

  9. Vernon Lun says:

    Hi Joanna,

    That’s an amazing list. Thank you.

    We often forget our comments are as important as the post because it starts and completes the conversation.

    Vernon

  10. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Vernon

    When I think about continuing connections, conversations, online relationships - they’ve all flown from comments. For me it’s the most rewarding and motivating part of blogging. It’s what makes it the medium that it is.

    But I know you know that :-)

    Joanna

  11. Glen P Jon says:

    Google has a new regime…
    Guess what….
    They call this stuff “comment spam” and they have an orgerythm designed to not give comments any link credit. It’ll be interesting to see how far they go with it or if it’s effective.

  12. Joanna Young
    Twitter: joannapaterson
    says:

    Hi Glen

    I think it’s been like that for a while - that links in comments don’t ‘count’ - but that’s not to say there isn’t a value in leaving a link to a site that’s going to be of interest to the people who are sharing in and taking part in the conversation.

    Joanna