by Scott McIntyre
Last week, I explored the different ways in which your online offering can be the source of exactly the information the information hungry customer is searching for. At the wider level, correctly targeting your potential audience makes it more likely that your blog will appeal to those readers you want to attract. And, more specifically, if you’ve decided to follow a strategy of connecting with non-bloggers, it helps if you do a little research beforehand to work out what the needs of non-bloggers might be.
By taking time to assess exactly what type of information your target non-blogging reader wants, you will be in a great position to begin the process of winning them over. If your blog can meet their needs, either as it exists currently or with some adapting, then your site is more likely to be the destination of choice for the non-blogger.
I’ve previously suggested that the community you and your readers build around your blog is definitely a major draw. A vibrant comments section is a wonderful place to be.
But imagine that you’re a non-blogger stumbling upon your comments section for the first time. You’d like to join in the conversation, and you might ask yourself, “What am I supposed to say?” or, even more importantly, “What am I not allowed to say?”
So, how do you help the offline customer understand how to comment on your blog? What do you do when they say things that you’d rather they didn’t? I’m keen to learn of your suggestions in the comments section below.
Today, I’m going to look at how you might best explain commenting to your non-blogging reader, and what you can do if the comments they leave aren’t quite the ones you’d hope for.
Helping Non-Bloggers Understand Comments
Once your strategy and hard work has been a success and you have attracted the offline customer to your online offering, this is the first step in encouraging them to become part of your community. It would be an ideal next step if you could draw them even further in by having them leave a comment on what they’ve just read.
In most cases, it takes quite a few visits before the non-blogger is comfortable enough to leave a comment of their own. By observing the nature of what your other readers say as part of the conversation over a period of time, the non-blogger can see what is acceptable.
While leaving comments on other blogs is second nature to those of you who blog yourselves, it can be a daunting thing to do for the offline customer visiting a blog for the first time. They might be concerned that what they have to say won’t be regarded as important Or, they may not want to join in for fear of being embarrassed.
The following few questions might help you come up with answers to how you manage comments in a way which not only encourages the non-blogger to have their say, but also allows you to deal with inappropriate comments and so promote an attractive, positive comments section- for both bloggers and non-bloggers alike:
- Do you have guidance on comments?
I know that many of you have a Comments Policy that you use to help your readers understand what is, and isn’t acceptable. This kind of information can be of immense use to the non-blogger trying to understand the concept of comments. In a Comments Policy, you can describe the comments ‘culture’ you aim to promote and suggest how the reader can add their own unique voice in a positive way. Similarly, you can also highlight what you view to be ‘unacceptable’ comments. The type of comment you judge to be undesirable is very much specific to your own blog and its audience. There is a balance to be struck between allowing free speech on the one hand, and not permitting offensive and negative remarks on the other. I’d be very interested to hear of your views on having a Comments Policy, and how effective you find them in encouraging positive comments.
- How do you follow up first-time comments?
Once a non-blogger leaves that all-important first comment, do you send them a message to let them know you value their contribution? Receiving an acknowledgement for having made your debut contribution is a very friendly touch and one that is likely to be well appreciated by your non-blogging reader. The very fact that you took the time to welcome them to your blog, can encourage them to comment more often. While contacting every reader after they’ve made their initial contribution might seem to involve a lot of time and effort, you only have to do it once… that first time commenter could become a very valued member of your community the next time they have their say.
- What is an ‘appropriate’ first time comment?
This can be a tricky issue to deal with. I’d guess that nearly all of you have some moderation on your blog to filter the first and, perhaps, second time comments that someone leaves. There are certain comments that you will, quite understandably, not allow to appear on your blog. The reasons can relate to factors such as: the use of negative language, profanities, or trolling (there may be other factors specific to your own blog). But how do you handle a first time comment from a reader who may not be familiar with the ‘etiquette’ of commenting? Perhaps, they haven’t said anything offensive but ,instead, they haven’t said it in the ‘right’ way. How would you deal with that kind of comment that may be from the reader who is a novice to commenting?
The questions above can act as a starting point to help you work out the best way to assist the offline customer to understand your blog community as demonstrated through your comments section. If your non-blogging reader has a clear understanding of what kind of comments are ideal and which are not, then all members of the community, blogger and non-blogger alike, will benefit from the positive aspects of a vibrant blog conversation.
If you’re a blogger, leave a comment to let me know what you do to help non-bloggers understand your own comment ‘culture’? How would you encourage non-bloggers to leave the ‘right kind’ of comment?
If you’re a non-blogger, tell them what they can do to help you to contribute to the conversation.
Week 1: Connecting with the Offline Customer: A Non-Blogger’s Perspective
Week 2: Targeting the Offline Customer: Do You Blog for Non-Bloggers?
Week 3: Reaching the Offline Customer: Do You Promote Your Blog Offline?
Week 4: Attracting the Offline Customer: Why Do You Promote Your Blog Offline?
Week 5: Top 10 Social Media Tips for Connecting With Non-Blogging Customers
Week 6: Welcoming the Offline Customer: Does Your Blog Create A Good Impression?
Week 7: Engaging the Offline Customer: Do You Talk With Non-Bloggers?
Week 8: Offline Customers: Do You Meet The Needs of Non-Bloggers?