How to Respond to your Comment Section

The tricky part is that your social profiles act as the face of your brand. So how do you keep it blemish free? You don’t – people will always complain. It’s what you do after the complaint that matters. – Jade Furubayashi, Simply Measured

To comment or not to comment, that is the question.

People who commented were 294% more willing to share a Quick Sprout post on the social web…I spend roughly 26 hours a month on responding to comments. It may not sound like a lot of time, but that is about half a workweek each month that goes towards commenting.

If your business or personal brand has opened up to the wide world of blogging, you may or may not have enabled the comment section. But what’s stopping you? For some, the fear of lurking internet trolls is a strong enough deterrent. For others, a comment section may simply not seem worthwhile.

Truth be told, you have nothing to fear and everything to gain by enabling a comment section. For starters, there are a number of strategies to approaching mean-spirited comments and even more on how to utilize insightful posts. By transforming your comment section into a community-based forum, you utilize the power of social proof, engagement, and foster relationships, all while empowering your audience to voice their criticisms, concerns, or praise. So without further adieu, let’s take closer look at the benefits of managing an online community.

To begin, we’ll take a look at some hard data and observations gathered by marketing guru, Neil Patel.

People who commented were 294% more willing to share a Quick Sprout post on the social web…I spend roughly 26 hours a month on responding to comments. It may not sound like a lot of time, but that is about half a workweek each month that goes towards commenting.

I’ve tried leaving shorter comments over the last few months, but I noticed that the average number of comments per post has declined by 39%. I have to go back to more thorough replies as the stats show that leaving well-thought-out responses produces a positive return on investment.

As you can see, a visitor that leaves a comment is almost 300% more likely to share your post than someone who doesn’t. That statement alone is enough for some, but we understand that you may still need more convincing. Looking more closely at the statement, we see that leaving “thorough replies” resulted in greater likelihood of post engagement.

In establishing that a comment section is a valuable resource, that information tells us that you can’t just begin a community-forum for the sake of doing it. You must put thought and an immense amount of time into your community. For some organizations this may mean hiring or outsourcing the role of Community Manager to expand your marketing capabilities. But what is a community manager?

A community manger is defined as,

An individual that is responsible for advocating the brand on social networks. They create their own social persona and actively go out within the online community to connect with potential customers and advocate the brand. Community managers typically deal with those who haven’t heard of the business they work for and boost awareness for the company.

Advocating on behalf of your brand, a community manager can handle a number of different comment section scenarios. A community manager is able to take on a number of responsibilities in regards to engagement, such as:

Community Manager
1. Creating a set of Forum Policies

A set of policies that can be easily accessed when visiting your comment section is the first line of defense in protecting your online community. Using language that clearly states the rules and disciplinary actions for forum violations ensures visitors are aware of the system in place.

It is great to honor freedom of speech, but comments that are malicious and serve no purpose in celebrating robust, healthy discussion do not have to be entertained.

2. Implementing a Comment Moderation System

Comment moderating software like CAPTCHA can help eliminate spambots. Spambots are used by hackers to carry out attacks on a website or server. They are created as fake accounts and used to send unsolicited messages for hacking and fraudulent business purposes.

3. Handling Customer Service

Whenever you produce content, your hope is that it will reach thousands – or millions – of readers. Most of us know that one of the best proven methods of spreading information is by word-of-mouth. In referencing our first bit of data from Neil Patel, we know that visitors who comment are 294% more likely to share your content. By creating an engaging forum where your audience feels empowered, not only may you receive glowing praise but insightful feedback on your organizations processes, products, services, etc.

The picture we’re painting here is that a comment section is nothing but beneficial to your organization. However, we do understand that there remain other concerns about verified users who leave negative comments about your organization.

First things first – not everyone is going to like your brand. It may be hard to swallow, but no matter what you do you can’t prevent everyone from having something negative to say. That being said, there’s no reason to completely rule out all of the opportunity afforded via a comment section.

In understanding how you, or your community manager, can respond to negative comments you must first understand how to classify the feedback. To begin with, Jade Furubayashi of Simply Measured defines negative feedback within 1 of 4 categories,

1. Pressing

Ex. ‘Hey @simplymeasured – my free report won’t generate.’ This type of feedback is simply a heads-up of a problem you might have to act on immediately.

Feedback such as the above is beneficial not only to your organization, but other consumers who value you your product. An insightful comment or troubleshooting shooting inquiry should be met with humility and grace. Letting your audience know you value their feedback and business, goes a long way. Make sure to publicly thank your audience and express your gratitude.

2. Constructive

Ex. ‘This post is a little confusing – those two recommendations seemed very similar.’ The above example is constructive feedback gives you an opportunity to modify certain things in the future, and is usually coming from a good place.

While the above comment may be subjective to the reader, it shouldn’t be taken negatively. A situation like this can be used to clarify the content in question, and may be helpful to other members of your community. At other times, you may receive direct challenges to statements you make. Those – like the situation above – are great opportunities to engage in a healthy debate and expand not only your readers viewpoints, but your own as well.

3. Disgruntled

Sometimes people aren’t looking to resolve a conflict and would instead rather complain, even if you’ve tried to be reasonable. When you encounter a disgruntled member of the community, “The best to apologize and move on.”

One way to help reduce malicious feedback is by requiring users to join your online community via a social network. In other words, get rid of anonymity. While anonymity can embolden members to speak openly, it can also grant invisibility to trolls.

4. Spam

As we discussed above, “A spambot is a computer application designed to send spam emails automatically in large quantities. It automatically collects email addresses from various sources on the Internet. Using the large number of email addresses collected, a spambot creates mailing lists and sends junk mail, also known as spam.”

Like we said before, installing a software service like CAPTCHA verification goes a long way in weeding out spambots.

The true benefit of an online community is its ability to humanize your organization and being accessible to the people who support your brand is of the utmost importance. Endearing yourself to other organizations in the spirit of friendly competition operates in much the same manner.
We’d like to leave you with this piece of information though – whether you’re looking to reach a consumer or other businesses, don’t be afraid to leave the first comment. You wouldn’t wait for business owners and entrepreneurs to come up and talk to you at a networking event, so get out there and spread some love. Leave a comment, share a post, or hit the like button. Create relationships with organizations and individuals, and foster a network of engaged visitors who will build upon the conversations in your online community.