Blogging is a fantastic way of engaging potential customers and building a relationship of trust, so that when you land your sales pitch, you’ve got more chance of converting. The comments section on blog posts and articles has long provided the environment for this engagement to occur. However, in recent years, comments haven’t managed to stimulate quite as much discussion on some sites as intended. So if readers aren’t engaging on your blog posts and articles, then how can you persuade them to get involved?
There’s a term that gets bandied around in the social media sphere known as ‘community’. A group of customers, big or small, that are passionate about your brand and the things you do, so much so that they are actively involved in the development and promotion of your brand. Building an active community, and reaping the rewards of customer loyalty, free publicity and social recommendations that come with it, is likened to the Holy Grail for content marketers.
But You Need Right Kind of Brand
The sad truth is, though, not every brand can build a community in any real sense. The willingness for customers and potential customers to partake in something depends entirely on the character and personality of the brand. For example, in the UK, Kimberely Clark’s Andrex toilet paper launched the ‘scrunch or fold’ campaign, an initiative that asked customers across the internet to get involved and discuss how they prefer to wrap up their toilet experience. Needless to say, the campaign fell short of expectations and was a mere drop in the, err, ocean, given the reluctance of customers to discuss their private moments so openly.
Alternatives to Comments
So how can we foster a user base of active and enthusiastic customers?
It’s our job as marketers to work out where our customers are, what they want and how they like to be communicated with. These days, it’s no secret that social media plays a large role in people’s lives. So taking the conversation onto social media, as opposed to on your website can result in an increase in engagement for the following reasons:
- People can be themselves on social media so you’re likely to foster a more genuine discussion
- Comments and likes spread to the commenter’s friends and followers, amplifying your content
- This amplification can lead to more people getting involved in the discussion
To make the most of social media as a replacement for your comments system however, there are a few realities that you must face:
- You’ll loose control. You can’t moderate the comments you receive on Facebook like you can on your website. People are free to say whatever they please and this can sometimes divert the point of the discussion and derail the debate.
- Targeting frailty. It’s a lot easier to comment on something you see on Facebook because users don’t even need to read the article or visit your website to take part in the discussion. Therefore, although you may experience an increase in engagement, it may simply be people that don’t represent you target market jumping on the bandwagon.
There are arguments for and against comment systems. They can be a genuinely pleasant experience that enthuse readers, stimulate debate and bring people closer to your brand. Alternatively, they can be a free for all mash up of random insults and incoherence or deserted, baron wastelands. Whatever the case is on your site, if the discussion has dried up, it may be time to consider moving on. And the best place to start is the place where your customers are holding their discussions instead.