Blog Comments Etiquette For Personal Branding

March 23rd, 2007

A couple of weeks ago I posted How To Blog Without Blogging and got some great comments – 27 to be exact. I don’t think that was one of my more brilliant posts (although the title was pretty good :) ).

Today I’ll take it one step further and share some thoughts on commenting on blogs, since I’ve been doing it for (gosh) at least 10 months now ;)

But first, some thoughts I want to the comments on that post by Blake Snow:

… (commenting) fails to provide a central repository for your thoughts. No one is going to seek out your scattered thoughts. People pay (through their attention) for convenience. Be sure you make yourself convenient.

and Francie:

I don’t think one really can blog without blogging. Yes, they can particpate and reap some benefits with your suggestions.

But, isn’t it kind of like being spectators at a sporting event? You can observe, make comments and then leave without breaking a sweat. But you’re not on the team. The star bloggers [...] network for all they’re worth, share innovative thoughts and keep the committment.

My reaction? I agree, of course. I am a stong advocate of developing a blog to quantify your personal brand. This post is just a baby-steps recommendation/primer for those that aren’t quite ready for the committment.

Primer I

Tony D. Clark blogs at Success From The NestTony D. Clark from Success From The Nest has a comment policy that is pretty cool. Go read it to get the spirit of the message (it will take you 60 seconds to read it). The basics are:

  • stay on topic
  • relevenant links are okay
  • no hate, flaming or other ugly stuff
  • no spam (of course)

Primer II

Tina Trapani - Lifehacker editorTony links to a Gina Trapani post on Lifehacker called Geek to Live: Lifehacker’s guide to weblog comments. Here are the main points, again, you should read the original post to see the “why’s” behind each point:

  • stay on topic
  • contribute new information to the discussion
  • don’t comment for the sake of commenting
  • know when to comment and know when to e-mail
  • remember that nobody likes a know-it-all
  • make the tone of your message clear
  • own your comment (don’t be anonymous)
  • be succinct
  • cite your sources
  • be courteous
  • don’t post when you are angry, upset, drunk or emotional
  • do not feed or tease the trolls (if you don’t know what that means you have to read her post ;) )

Jason’s Thoughts

Those are great lists and explanations. My additional thoughts here are for you – perhaps a non-blogger – remember, its about how to use commenting to enhance your personal brand.

Say Thank You. If you are ever mentioned in a post, I think its good practice to thank the writer for acknowledging you. Even if they mention just your first name (I do this to keep my contacts anonymous, many times they don’t know I’m gong to quote them). Better yet – contribute to the discussion with more than a “thank you.”

Bring value to the readers. I see posts as the beginning of a discussion. The writer will only write so much, and usually won’t exhaust the discussion. Adding opposing views, supporting views, links to other posts or articles makes the discussion richer and more valuable. And it shows how smart you might be ;)

Bloggers solicit input. When they do it’s a great opportunity to throw your two cents in! Take a few minutes and add to the conversation. How many blog posts do you see that end with “what do you think?” Lots!

Make sure to leave your link. Its about personal branding, right? So leave your website, or blog, or LinkedIn profile in the box so that people can click back and find more info about you. Gina talks about not being anonymous – AMEN! I realize there are times you want to be (embarrassing questions, etc.) but don’t get into a habit of being anonymous.

Do it. If you think a post is cool, add to it. If you think the writer is off-mark, leave a comment and express your thoughts. Be kind, be intellectual, be a smart resource. If you want to be a jerk or a troll go ahead – that’s a great way to show your personal brand too – if you want to have a bad brand.

E-mail vs. comment? I’ve had a number of e-mails talking about a post, or a comment left on a post. The e-mails are GREAT! But I’d rather have you share your thoughts with all of my readers, not just me. Maybe I’m weird that way, but if you have something meaningful to add to the discussion, post a comment.

But, e-mail is cool too. Many times a blogger will e-mail you to say thanks. This is a great time to start a relationship. Perhaps you can offer to write a guest post on their blog, or send them information that they might find valuable (if it has to do with their themes they blog on, many times they will appreciate it).

There you go. Have you commented on any blogs since my How To Blog Without Blogging post?

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14 Responses to “Blog Comments Etiquette For Personal Branding”

  1. Does commenting on a blog do anything for links (i.e. as related to Google Pagerank)? I ask this because I am signed up for Google alerts for the term “headwaters bamboo” (surprise, surprise). Anyway, I never get an alert for a comment. Does commenting do anything for improving your pagerank?

  2. David, the answer can be both yes and no… it depends on the blog that you post on. Check out my article on the “Do Follow” plug-in for WordPress it may give you some insight.

    Also, I have a series about my top ten WordPress 2.1 plugins on my blog which you may also find helpful.

    But sometimes the only link love that you get is from the website address that you leave in the textbox at the beginning just before your reply. My advice, every little bit helps. -Carl

  3. Jane May says:

    Jason,

    I’ve noticed first hand this topic since I’ve greatly appreciated your comments on Career Ramblings. I just wanted to return the favor. I like the set up you have and having your blog be one portion of your whole site. Hmmmm, things to consider :)

  4. Francie says:

    I always try to add value when I comment – sometimes just my few cents’ worth, sometimes priceless :)

    I’m honored to be featured in one of your posts Jason. That particular comment I made wasn’t so much about commenting as about blogging, but you say you agree, so it must have been a good one?
    I like your baby-steps primer. I’m in the baby-step stage of blogging myself (4 months) but I’m not afraid to comment along with the big boys/girls.

    Following your thoughts, I don’t think I have any relevant links to leave (and it’s probably not good etiquette to leave one that’s off-topic?) so I’ll say thank you for the mention and the comment primer!

  5. Pete Johnson says:

    The one I struggle with is leaving my link. Most people don’t do it separately from the link you leave in the “Website” link, but I’ve found I get a lot more follow through if I leave it in a post signature. The risk you run there is being branded as someone who’s only posting to get traffic to your own site. While that can be a motivation, if you are commenting for the sole purpose of leaving a link, people will call you on it.

    Still, I sometimes wonder if I’m irritating more people than I’m getting by leaving it in a signature (as I did on this reply).

    —Pete
    http://nerdguru.net

  6. Great post Jason.

    When I talk to people about their on-line brand, many are reluctant to begin blogging. When I then explain about commenting, more warm up to the idea. My hope is that posting a few comments gets them interested and comfortable, after which they’ll be ready to begin initiating their own conversations rather than just commenting on others’ blogs.

    Kent

  7. Dear Jason,

    Good evening. Very important subject indeed.

    I want to try to contribute with a question about blogs and personal brands: being myself a “rookie” in this area, before creating a blog intended to introduce myself and interact with other financial professionals, I got some previous references as to the possibility not only to discuss concrete professional issues but to promote our professional profiles in terms of our job search.

    If those references could make sense, for the benefit of the discussion (hopefully), being myself also a job seeker I’d like to ask you as well as other readers if a blog could leverage two possible uses:

    * Discussing concrete professional issues and
    * Getting information and informational references about my job search.

    Keeping in mind the recent discussion that you led about a resume experiment, if you agree, I’d also like to “volunteer” in order to introduce the blog I created; if I can be granted with other reader’s feedback, it would be an extremely useful tool for me in order to take a break, pay close attention and correct what it needs to be corrected and promote properly my profile: http://investmentbankingindustry.blogspot.com

    Thank you very much.

    I look forward to receive your feedback.

    - Mario P. Lopez, CPA

  8. Very interesting article Jason, and a great primer for all new to commenting.

    Perhaps OT, and if so, I apologize: I’m curious your thoughts on why to use a TypeKey page as your personal commenting method on TypePad blogs? To me, that’s an unnecessary step that people must take in order to see who the smart person was that left an insightful comment, not to mention it hides your e-mail address, making it much more difficult (not impossible) to send a thank you for a comment well done.

    Thanks!

  9. Thanks, for pointing to my comment policy page, Jason.

    I firmly believe comments are critical to the process. One of the best ways to promote your blog is by providing insightful comments on other blogs. Like I say in my comment policy, I look at blogs as a conversation. I think, that’s how a lot of folks see them.

    And a conversation is two-way – a lecture is one-way.

  10. Jason says:

    @ David and Carl – Thanks for the question David and answer Carl. I thought that was the answer but wasn’t completely up to speed on it. I have found that when I comment on *some* blogs I am found by the search engines, but others aren’t (which supports Carl’s answer – “it depends on how the blogger has it set up.”

    @ Jane May – love your blog! Thanks for dropping by!

    @ Francie – you are right, the comment quoted is about blogging (because last time I had people say you can’t blog without blogging – so why try, my point is I agree, but this baby-step primer is for the rest that aren’t ready yet :p). One thought on the “you are 4 months old” thing… you have to realize that even the biggest of the big boys/girls have only been around for a couple of years, if that.

    @ Pete – I just started leaving my link like you did and so far haven’t found any problems with it at all. In fact, my traffic has increased because its more intuitive for someone to click on a link that is in my signature than to click on my name… I guess it looks more natural?

    @ Kent – you are an awesome advocate of personal branding with a blog and this advice is excellent. I tend to be more of a “go set it up” guy but I am sure you are more effective encouraging people to just start simple. As a matter of fact, we talked about this a couple of months ago and I think this has been stewing in my mind ever since!

    @ Mario – I tend to keep my personal, personal stuff off of this blog but I want to put my professional personality here. I’m not two different people but some things don’t belong in a personal branding statement (imho). I would recommend that you figure out what your “message” is and then stay within that. My first attempt to mix “my message” with a personal experience was when I cut my hand open and talked about a job seeker without insurance – and getting sick to my stomach about how to pay for it.

    @ Phil – I got a TypeKey account last summer when I started commenting on TypePad blogs because I found that if I had that account the comments was more likely to be posted immediately, and not have to go to moderation all the time. I have now changed my signature when I comment on blogs so it should be a little easier, but I agree – its lame – but the question is do I risk the moderator eyeballing me closely (and perhaps flagging as spam) or do I get my comment up quickly. I chose the quickly route :p

    @ Tony – you have one of the most excellent blog formats and styles I’ve ever seen. Its not fair because you are artistically talented and it comes across big time – untalented people like me get a look like… well, this :p And your content matches the formatting – excellent, enjoyable and informational.

  11. Interesting thoughts Jason. I don’t moderate comments, so I guess I don’t understand this philosophy of not letting folks comment on my blog. I say, comment away.

    And great commentary here in your comments as well. Excellent conversation!

  12. I agree with Phil on moderated comments (I am always disappointed to read that my comment will be posted only after the moderator has approved them). I don’t require moderation on my site. I want all the comments I can draw to my site.

    However, I do use Capcha to keep machines out of the commenting loop.

    (Yes, I know, Typepad’s capcha is particularly hard to read. They claim they are looking for a more readable version. We’ll see.)

    Kent

  13. Thanks for this great FREE information. I’ve paid out quite a bit on money over the past few molnths learning this kind of stuff and I stuble upon your blog to hear it for free.

    Keep up the great work!

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