Tonight’s #blogchat featured Shannon Paul, from the Very Official Blog, and Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield. The topic was responding to comments on a company blog.
This is a pretty touchy subject – I know many new corporate bloggers feel as though the comments are the bane of their existence, or that it should be so heavily moderated it may as well not exist at all – but at the end of the day, if there’s not a discussion, there’s not a community.
Here’s what shaped up in the chat:
First of all, Shannon is a great person. Really down to earth – and it showed even in the pre-game show. Watching some of the back and forth was great, as always.
Of course, 8pm hits, and the chat was already accelerating. The mandatory introductions were mandatory, the obligatory jokes were obligatory. Pretty standard.
The first question was about scope – do you respond to every comment on your company blog? What about your personal blog? It’s an important question.
Next thing – a note from a number of people about there being no one-size-fits-all approach to comments. I have to say I agree – strategy for comments is as individual as content strategy for the blog itself.
@mattceni let me know the first SEO question came in at 8:10 – which is by no means a record, but amusing none the less.
An awesome quote from Shannon Paul – “A blog is typically a conversation, but how you define the conversation you want to have differs.”
As well, a great notice from Shannon regarding dealing with trolls and inappropriate comments – leave the emotion at home.
A couple of people mentioned that comment sections are a great way to catch things you’ve missed – aspects of a story not covered, concerns not addressed and so forth. This is fairly important, and how you as a corporate blogger react to these challenges/criticisms/revelations/bonus points is paramount to the success of the blog you’re running.
Of course, timely as always, there were some comments about back channels and more direct, discrete areas.
Halftime! No intermission!
Mack Collier made a good point that many customers who make negative comments on a company blog do so because they see it as a last resort for customer service. I tend to agree – negative may not be constructive, but usually stems from a real reason, no matter how overblown the comment is.
This said; don’t feed the trolls. Once you determine whether or not there can be a resolution to a stated issue, resolve or move on.
There were a few notes throughout the chat about setting expectations, for readers and commentators, in order to ensure that there is both appropriate respect, and appropriate relevance in comments.
Companies, unfortunately, seem to think that having comments open in the first place will draw negativity, and encourage disgruntled people to make bad comments.
Hear this: Permission given from Shannon and Mack, and just about everyone on the chat, to delete abusive comments without response. There. Now, let people comment.
Similarly – comments both positive and negative can be very power ways to gather data for use across the company. If someone speaks up – either to praise or not – use that. Interact with it, unless it’s abusive (see; do not feed trolls) and make the most of it.
All in all, company blogs need to better embrace the comment section, and let their customers – and prospects – interact in a less formal manner with them. This isn’t about diluting your brand or your message – this is about making sure you do right by people, in the arenas where it’s expected.
Participants’ List from TweepML
What The Hashtag transcript for #blogchat on October 17th
If I missed something let me know! That’s what the comments section is for!