In the 1970s and 80s, the top New York City graffiti artists were engaged in a fierce personal branding contest. They sought maximum name recognition by “bombing,” or painting their name on as many subway trains and high-profile public places as possible. The goal was to make sure that every single person in NYC saw their name — all decked out in cutting-edge typography and colorful artwork.
Build strong relationships and widespread name recognition, just by leaving comments. image: jovivebo
I think comments are a lot like graffiti in the social media world. They’re an opportunity to freely “tag” your name and show off your writing in public places around the internet. (And they also invite spam and vandalism). Many new bloggers approach comments quite casually or unconsciously… without realizing if you get more organized and systematic about leaving comments, you can build a strong reputation and generate highly-targeted traffic for your own sites and content.
The Reciprocal Nature of Comments
When you leave a comment on someone’s blog, Flickr photo, or Digg story… they’ll (almost) definitely notice. Pleased that you paid attention to their content, many bloggers will click through to take a look at your profile or blog. If you comment on someone’s content regularly, you’ll build up karma… and some will eventually feel compelled to reciprocate and comment on your stuff as well, says @AussieSire. So give comments out generously, and you’re sure to get some back:
Tools for Efficient Commenting
Top graffiti writers are very organized with backpacks full of tools (headlamp, paint, wide spray nozzles, markers, stencils) they need to get their point across. You need the right stash of social media tools to be successful and efficient with your comments:
- Register a Gravatar acount
- Register With Disqus
- Install an RSS Reader
- Get easyComment for Firefox.
Gravatar or “Globally-recognized Avatar” is software system that allows your picture to show up consistently across blog platforms (like WordPress & TypePad) and social sites. Upload a picture, user name and e-mail – and your picture will show up automatically in many comments.
Disqus is a popular, spam-resistant comment management system. Disqus-enabled blogs remember your identity automatically – so you can get straight to the comment without the hassle of entering your name & e-mail address. Register at Disqus.com and upload the exact same picture you used for your Gravatar account. Don’t forget to configure your display name exactly how you want it to show up on blogs – because the default username is often difficult to read (“johnqsmith” instead of “John Q. Smith“).
Trying to keep track of blogs by with bookmarks or, worse, typing the URLs into your address bar is terribly inefficient. To be a comment ninja you absolutely must have an RSS reader – and I recommend Whizz RSS. It fits right into the sidebar of Firefox, so jumping to the comments box on your friends’ latest blog posts easier than pushing the button on a switchblade.
A lot of people hate leaving comments because it feels like registering for a new site each time. easyComment is a free Firefox plugin that lets you enter your name, e-mail address and site information with just one click. It’s like “cruise control” for commenting. If you plan on doing heavy-duty commenting for sites using multiple names, consider a professional form-filling tool like 1passwd (OS X) or RoboForm (Windows).
Building an Effective Comment Strategy
Get your name and writing style seen in just the right places. image:SeeTwist
- Pick strategic “targets” to comment on
- Leave comments in batches
- Create a balance of quality and quantity
- You don’t have to read the whole article
- Use your name, not keywords
- Add insight or conversational value
- Don’t be afraid to drop a highly-relevant link
Leaving a comment is a direct step towards building a relationship with a blogger. It’s also a great way to promote your site – a “first” comment on a major blog like Mashable or TechCrunch can send more direct click-through traffic than the home page of Sphinn or Mixx. So pick the people & blogs you want recognition and traffic from, and add them to your RSS reader. Make subfolders to keep it all organized and allow you to dish out the right amount of comment love to the right people. I’ve got: “local blogs,” “real-life friends,” “social media blogs,” “Digg friends,” etc.
It’s very, very easy to get distracted while commenting. Make a block of time each week (i.e., Tuesday evenings) where you can spend a few hours in your RSS reader, leaving comments on your “long tail” blog list.
A brilliant comment on a popular blog can get more retweets and buzz than the article itself. So spend the bulk of your time and brain cells writing quality comments in the places you really want to been seen and respected, and be more quick or casual if the goal is just to let an old friend know you’re still reading their stuff.
It takes a long time to carefully read each post and write an elaborate comment that covers all the points. If an article starts to bore you, you don’t have to read the whole thing. Just scan it and pick one point that speaks to you. Comment on that point.
No one wants to get a comment from “Home Mortgage Refinancing,” and this pathetic link-text building effort will almost surely backfire on you. Comment with the name you use most consistently on the internet. You can usually get away with adding your URL name or Twitter handle into the “Name:” field of a blog comment. Leaving a comment as “Brett @ Socialmediarockstar.com” or “Brett Borders (@BrettBorders)” isn’t usually frowned upon – but use your discretion. This can make your comment stand out – and encourage people to click through and see your site or Twitter profile.
While some bloggers really dislike “Great article!“-type comments or think they’re spammy, I appreciate them more than no comment at all. But at least, try to briefly write out why you thought it was a great post or why you agree with it. “Great post! I think you nailed all the main objections. I believe that #2 – lack of economic incentive – is the strongest argument.”
If you have written a substantial, on-topic comment — and you have a blog post or software that is extremely relevant — don’t be afraid to drop a link in your comment. It might get edited out, but if you’re sincere… it will often stand. Don’t ever waste your time spamming blogs with irrelevant links or automated comments – it will hurt your reputation far more than it will help it!
Take the “100 Comment Challenge”
Effective commenting is a core social media skill that can make a huge impact on your personal branding and blogging success. If you comment with consistency and flair, people will soon begin to feel like they know and “trust” you – and you’ll start to build a good reputation in your chosen niche.
If you’re a new blogger who rarely leaves comments, I challenge you to step up your social media game: try out the tools and strategies in this post and leave at least 25 comments a week over the next four weeks. Observe how the comments you leave directly affect people’s responsiveness to you, your blog traffic and comment counts, and the number of new connections and relationships that develop.
Get a FREE Website Evaluation!
Brett Borders, the author of this article, is a professional copywriter who specializes in increasing website sales and signup rates. I'm available now to write for your website and optimize it for maximum sales and profits. Please contact me now for a free consultation.