Part of the appeal of social media is the social aspect. That doesn’t just mean a two-way conversation between the author and the fans, but also many-way communications, where fans are interacting with each other. That’s a social conversation, and it’s a goal authors should have in mind. More importantly, they should have a plan to get there.
Getting comments is, as many of you have found, a bit of a challenge. Below you’ll find seven tips to help you, the social author, get more comments. Take a step back and consider how the whole commenting process works, and you’ll easily fit these into your daily (yeah, we said daily) routine.
Tip 01 – Make it dead simple to comment
OK, this one seems a little obvious but many authors fall down right out of the gate with this one. Go check your main social properties right now and see if it’s easy to comment. Chances are, you’ve got one or more barriers in the way:
- Requiring approval before comments appear – Big mistake for the under-published author. Let comments post as they are written. Yes, you’ll have to deal with the occasional spammer and troll, but those will be infrequent if you’ve set your site up properly. Requiring approval says you don’t trust your audience, and no one likes to feel untrustworthy.
- Not allowing comments – Before you spend money to have your website developed, can it handle comments? If you stick with something like a WordPress installation of your home base, this isn’t a problem. But if you’re not using some blog-based system, make sure what you are using actually allows people to comment on all your posts.
- Forcing a comment path – Not all who comment want their words to be public. Do you have an easy way for them to send you private communications? No, not from some form on your website. I already told you why not to do that. I mean your email address. Yes, I’m repeating myself. It’s that important.
Standard social sites frequented by authors — Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc. — automatically remove most of the barriers above. But you should check that someone interacting with you in the social space has every bit as much chance commenting on your social stuff as your own website. Go check. I’ll wait.
Tip 02 – Post new content often
If you have a static website, no one will comment on it. If you post once a month at best, no one will comment. No one will comment because it’s not worth their time or effort to do so. Without fail, the properties that receive the most comments are owned by authors who make the dedication to post new content often. Very, very often.
Need a definition of often? Future posts will go into that in more depth. For now, here are are some good minimum standards:
- Update your Facebook status daily
- Tweet daily
- Share on Google+ daily
- Post on your blog twice a week
Remember, those are minimum standards. More is OK. Don’t have time? Sure you do. You just need help making a calendar. We’ll get there in future content.
Tip 03 – Monitor comments as if you were obsessive/compulsive
No, I’m not suggesting you intentionally cultivate a mental disorder. Most of the popular social sites and even your blog make it easy to stay on top of comments as they happen. Until it makes you crazy, I highly recommend having all comments to your Facebook profile or page alert you via SMS text messaging. With a little work, you can make all tweets about you buzz your phone, too. And the same goes for comments made on your blog.
When you get to the point where your phone buzzes so much you can’t keep a battery charged, then you can scale back and check periodically throughout the day. But you must check frequently. Which leads me to the next tip…
Tip 04 – Comments beget more comments
Yes, I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of comment threads where dozens of people are merrily commenting away amongst themselves, while the content originator is blissfully absent. That won’t happen to you. So stop thinking of that.
Instead, think about responding to each and every comment, tweet, status update, review and anything else you can find where someone said nice things about you. You must participate in the conversation. It’ll be great when people people start talking to each other when they are commenting on your work. But even when that eventually does start to happen, you still need to be there commenting right back. (Note – Slightly different rules apply to negative comments. For now, keep a cool head and don’t feel the need to defend yourself. We’ll deal with negative comments in future materials.)
Tip 05 – Make commentable stuff
If all you’re posting is what your cat had for lunch, you’re not making commentable stuff. Yes, I’m sure your cat is fascinating and you can point to other authors who do write about their cat. A lot. But those are exceptions to the rule. You need to be focusing on making good stuff.
What is good stuff, you ask? Remarkable things is the answer. I’m using the literal definition of the roots of remarkable: Something that can be remarked upon.
Polls and questions are easy ways to get comments, because you’re asking a question. Don’t rely on this completely, as you should be generating content, not seeking content from your masses. Post controversial topics, but don’t stray too far from your knitting. Just because it’s politicking season, it doesn’t mean you should jump on the bandwagon when you aren’t remotely political in nature.
The best advice is this: be true to yourself, but skip the boring stuff. Start writing down things that you do that are both interesting and remarkable. Then build on that list.
Tip 06 – Showcase the best comments
Not all comments are created equal, and that’s OK. Nothing feels better than to see a string of 10 or 20 “you rock!” notes. Good for the ego. But you should start to notice some comments rise above the rest. Maybe it’s a really good review. Maybe it’s a question that you can answer to really let your personality shine. Whatever the nature, grab that outstanding comment and elevate it.
Make that comment the subject of a new blog post. Like that comment on Facebook. Re-tweet an excellent review. Yes, it is very OK to draw attention to this kind of stuff. Is it a little self-congratulatory? Yes; and your point is? Bonus tip: send the originator of that great comment a personal thank you note, message, direct message or email. Maybe they’ll do it again!
Tip 07 – Cross-pollinate comment threads.
You’ll quickly learn that your social channels don’t have 100% cross over. While your hard-core fans may keep up with you on multiple social channels, most people have a favorite that they check into frequently. Similar to the “showcasing” tip above, shine some light across your channels from time to time. Facebook and Google+ are great places to do this, as you can associate individuals in your post, drawing even more attention. But don’t forget to do that in reverse. If there’s a great Google+ thread happening, send out a tweet to let your followers on Twitter know about it. More is better!
Got a tip to share?
We’re going to start sharing social tips on a regular basis. Leave your suggestions for future topics to cover in the comment section below. And if you’ve got a great tip that needs to be shared, tell us!