In case you’re new to this whole “social media” thing, let me introduce you to a basic tenet. “Markets are conversations.” (You can thank a fellow named Doc Searles and his many proselytizers for that simply encapsulated truth).
If you live online at all, you know we’re not merely recipients of information; we are the publishers, the idea generators, the authors, the messengers. We get a voice and a choice online!
That sounds very empowering, but as I addressed a couple days ago in “Got a Hang Up About Blogging?”, there are droves of business people who simply aren’t inclined to write or put themselves ‘out there’ on a regular basis, let alone sit in front of their computers for extended lengths of time. Perhaps I’m describing you. You take in plenty of info online, and you understand there’s value in being part of the conversation. But you’re locked down, wondering what you should say and when or where to say it.
So you’re clearly not ready to commit to a blog. Why not commit to comment?
Consider utilizing comments as a means of joining the conversation. Comments are a low pressure means of sharing your own perspectives and creating an online presence. Trust me, for bloggers and journalists who’ve committed to creating content online, comments are assurance that people are reading and reacting. And we all have a deep need to be heard.
OK…the PR girl in me demands I start with this pointer, and the truth behind it extends beyond this blog’s topic to anything I will ever attempt to illuminate for you. Please, only comment—only speak up and draw attention to yourself—from a place of sincerity. Only comment when what you’ve read or seen genuinely evokes a response.
Do not narrow the art of commenting down to be so tactical that it becomes abundantly clear you’re only reason for saying something is shameless self-promotion. It’s counterproductive to draw attention to yourself, then have nothing of substance to contribute. A comment is not a classified ad!
If you truly want to be part of a conversation, you don’t sit in the back of the room, outside the core circle of discussion. Get in the mix, front and center! If you’re inspired to comment, do your best to speak up early. Being the first in what becomes a long trail of comments, you’ll find other people may be led to respond to you as much as the article.
Once you start reading with the intent to join in conversation, you’ll likely hone in on a set of media outlets, specific bloggers and journalists that you really connect with. Obviously, if you’re a regular reader, you likely could become a regular commenter. By responding—with sincerity!—on a regular basis, you’re not just conversing. You’re building community.
In commenting, don’t regurgitate what the author’s already made plain, and don’t use confuse a comment with a critique. Comments can be a way to thank the author for starting a conversation, for offering a personal anecdote or sharing further information or insight.
Write in such a way that you’ll be confident putting your name on what you’ve written. From accurate spelling and grammar to well-substantiated thoughts, you should only leave comments for which you’ll gladly identify yourself.
Always identify yourself. If you’ve contributed something worthwhile to the conversation, you’ve earned the opportunity to mention who you are and what company you represent. As a matter of fact, if people have appreciate the quality of your comments, they will want to know whence you came.
I welcome your comments, of course! Look for more buzz on small biz tomorrow…