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The art of blog commenting

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We’ve all heard it before–the best part of many blogs isn’t the posts. It’s the comments.

Why? Because the comments represent the real discussion board. People with varying viewpoints adding valuable content. Folks starting productive conversation threads that go in a different direction from the original post. And people leaving tips and tools that are beneficial to us all. That’s the real gold of blog posts.

But, blog commenting shouldn’t be undersold as a PR/marketing tactic either. I know one colleague who employed a strategy of providing thoughtful comments on specific mega-industry blogs. As a result, he pulled in a number of leads. So, targeted, insightful comments can often times be as powerful as the actual posts. Remember, if you’re leaving a comment on a site/blog like Mashable or even a more personal blog like Jason Falls’ blog, Social Media Explorer, chances are, that comment in being read by a whole slew of people.

In fact, blog commenting has been a key component of a number of client projects, campaigns and everyday engagement for that very reason (visibilty and awareness in key, targeted areas).

Given the importance of commenting, it’s critical to practice and hone the art form. Below are a few tips to consider as you think about the comments you and your client’s leave in the coming weeks/months:

* Add just one piece of information. Don’t try to add 4-5 new pieces of content–just stick with one. It will seem less overwhelming will save you time and will allow you to comment on more blogs, more regularly. For instance, if it’s a list post, add 1-2 additional ideas/names (not 4-5) to the list and explain why.

* Play devil’s advocate. This one can be tricky, but, if done well, it can lead to a very healthy and productive conversation. And, we tend to see too many “Great post. Here’s why.” comments and not enough productive disagreements. Take a contrarian view (while being respectful) on the blogger’s topic and see where it leads.

* Don’t get too personal. In a way, blogging is a form of ranting. And, for many, rants can get personal quickly. That can spill into the comments very easily. And, when it does, things can get dicey. Stay away from personal battles in the comments. Keep your remarks “above the waist” and be respectful of the blogger and other commenters.

* Don’t be afraid to get personal. OK, wait, didn’t I just say don’t get too personal? Don’t worry–I’m not crazy. While I don’t think you should engage in personal attacks within the comments, I do think you should add a personal touch to them. Don’t be afraid to discuss your personal feelings on a subject. I find the more personal, the better. Not only when it comes to comments–but posts, too.

* Leave a bread crumb. Usually, this entails leaving your Twitter handle, so people know exactly who left the comment (and where to find you). But, it could also include a link to a post you wrote, if it’s applicable (don’t force it here). If you use a comment platform like DISQUS, the tool essentially includes the link back to your home base–whether that’s your blog, Twiter, etc.

* Don’t forget to comment on other comments. This one’s tougher to do if the blogger isn’t using a tool like DISQUS that allows for threaded comments, but it’s still applicable with other platforms. Oftentimes, the post won’t spark a thought–but a comment will. Don’t be afraid to respond to one of those comments with your own two cents–remember, it’s supposed to be an open dialogue, not just a blogger-to-commenter dialogue.

* Consider a blog comment management tool. I prefer DISQUS, but there are other tools to help you manage your comments. This way you can track the blogs you’re commenting on and how often. It’s always interesting to look back at month’s end and see where I’ve been spending my time commenting–same goes for clients.

What blog comment tips would you add to this list?

Note: Photo courtesy of Miss Miah via FlickR Creative Commons.

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The art of blog commenting

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