Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 5, 201111:57 PM

The Other Side Of Comments And Community

What can someone new to the Social Media world do to find and attract readers while building their own community?

This was one question that was asked of Gini Dietrich during a recent Podcast. She answered today on her Spin Sucks Blog with a post titled, Building Your Online Community. Her answer was: "I always say social media, and building a community in general, is all about stroking other people's egos and scratching their backs. If you do that, they're much more willing to ask what they can do for you. And, in this case, visiting your blog and commenting is what they can do for you." Gini goes into detail about certain Bloggers who email a personal note of thanks to people who leave a comment on their Blog to others who send handwritten notes to those who leave comments.

I feel like a moron.

Part of me thinks that even a personalized email of thanks seems excessive... it's just a comment on a Blog post (it's like using a rocket launcher to get rid of a mosquito or sending a thank you note if someone calls you), but I understand the spirit of the act. It creates a much more human connection and probably lays the foundation for more real connections/relationships. What's even more amazing is what comes out in the comment section of Gini's Blog post. There's a lot of passion, discussion and thought around how to make people like you.

It's nice, but you need to ask yourself a bigger question first...

What are you trying to accomplish with your Blog and other Social Media efforts? It seems like everyone with an opinion assumes that the goal is to grow an audience that has a lot of engagement, maybe some conversation and a semblance of community. What if your goals are different? What if you Blog to establish yourself as a recognized authority? What if you Blog so that when potential clients come by, they can learn more about how you think? What if you Blog because the platform just makes it so easy to publish? Beyond that, what if you're not a social creature by nature, but just want to share how you think?

I struggle with Blog comments because I don't Blog for the back and forth. I Blog to make the content I think about as shareable and findable as possible.

I've Blogged about comments and their value over the years. I've changed my stance on Blog comments over the years, but none of that truly changes the reasons why I Blog: which is to publish my thoughts. It's an important distinction. Not everyone is looking to Blog to engage with people at such a micro-level... and we should not judge those people based on that one use/application. It's also important to note that many more people read this Blog, share it, etc... than those who comment on it. I can tell from our analytics that the most value for the majority of people here comes from reading it and not from the back and forth in the comments.

How does the person who is creating the content feel?

That is the true other side of comments and community. What does the person who owns the Blog and content want to have happen? Perhaps we need to take one step back and ask ourselves that very important question: how does the person creating the content feel and how important are the comments and communal aspects of the Blog to their growth? It seems to me that people admonish Seth Godin for not having comments because they feel there is no platform for conversation. The assumption is that Seth Godin created a Blog for conversation. Maybe he didn't. Maybe he created it as a way for people who like his books to get pithy bits from his brain every now and again in between the publishing of his books, speaking engagements and new product launches. Beyond that, comments and communities no longer live in silos. Share your thoughts wherever you play. You don't need a comment section on a Blog to create feedback or community. Anyone can now use platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and even a Blog of their own to comment and feedback and extend the community or conversation. If the only way to build community is by making others feel important and valued, and this is not the strategy for your content play, it's important to know this up front and set-up those expectations, so people can choose whether or not your content publishing adds value to their lives and meets their expectations.

Or am I missing something here?

By Mitch Joel