Getting the Social Media Conversation Right

How To Deal With 5 Categories of Social Media Comments

Social media interaction - comments Social media is a multi-directional, many-to-many conversation. It’s large cocktail party where attendees are having more than one conversation at a time involving different groups of people. Often these exchanges appear in the form of comments posted on social media networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tumblr, bulletin boards and blogs.

So how’s a marketer supposed to handle all of this input? As a business, you can’t sit back and expect prospects, customers and the public to comment without receiving any response from you. Therefore, it’s a good idea to respond and interact with those who comment on your social media pages and profiles.

Recognize that you don’t need to respond to every mention or comment. One of the major reasons to use social media monitoring is to enable you to discern which comments or issues require a response or input from your organization. As a rule of thumb, generally 2% of social media mentions need a corporate answer.

While you must have an understanding on where you want the social media conversation to go, you can’t seek to control it. The goal is engagement and timing matters.

To help you engage with people on social media through the use of comments, here are five tips broken out by the five different categories of comments. (Note: To this end, it’s useful to understand your target audience’s social media persona.)

  1. Spam. You should use some form of software to screen these unwanted comments that vary from unwanted promotions to ugly or obscene rants. You can’t take these responses seriously since they may not even be from real people. Even with a spam filtering software, you’ll still need to check the remaining comments. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Remove spam from your social media presence or it’s a sign no one’s home. Also, check your spam filter for positive comments caught by accident.
  2. Negative comments. This is a diverse category of comments. It includes responses that disagree with your points or interpretation, language misunderstandings and personal attacks. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: While you should remove outright abusive comments, you shouldn’t delete comments simply because they disagree with you. Be open to opposing perspectives and engage these people in a conversation. Further, understand that social media is global so that what appears to you to be a negative response might be more of a language issue. Have a set of commenting guidelines so that visitors know your house rules. Among them should be no foul language, no personal attacks and no abusive remarks. Remember social media has a social responsibility. If you’re dealing with a difficult person, let one of your social media colleagues handle them, but walk away if you’re faced with trolls.
  3. Neutral responses. These are comments that say “Great post” or “Good point.” They’re easy for the composer to write, but don’t add to the conversation. Also they don’t give you sufficient information to respond with anything more than a polite thank you. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Don’t respond to these comments.
  4. Positive comments. These are nirvana for social media marketers. These responses reference your content and bring up new points. These contributions are a sign people are paying attention to what you’re doing. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Answer each comment separately and respond to the specific points raised. Don’t be use the media trick of changing the topic to something else you want to discuss. Where appropriate, consider writing another post based on the topic your commenter raised.
  5. Your comments. In addition to responding to mentions and remarks left on your social media sites, you should spend time leaving comments on other social media presences in your category. This helps to build your brand and authority by exposing your perspective to other people’s audiences. This is the one aspect of commenting that will set your business apart because many marketers overlook the power of this tactic. Actionable Social Media Marketing Tip: Leave meaty comments on other social media platforms. Think broadly in terms of your category including LinkedIn Groups and blogs as well as online media. Your goal is to get recognized for your diverse presence and point of view. (Of course, this should be in line with your brand.) The objective is to broaden the sphere of your influence.

Social media converses and engages through comments. Therefore, it’s important to participate in the dialog by contributing your perspective with useful information your audience needs. In addition to showing you’re engaged, this provides you with an opportunity to deepen your relationship with your prospects and exchange information and insights.

How do you handle social media comments? Have you had any unusual experiences that have evolved from your comments or social media interactions?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some related articles you may be interested in.

The 7 Step Social Media Strategy Every Marketer Needs (Note provides a structured plan.)

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/35597202@N02/4424721413/

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  • Melonie Dodaro

    A good comment is always like a breath of fresh air, but
    at times, comments that contradict your stance can also give you something
    worth thinking about. I am absolutely certain that not everybody will agree
    with me all the time. And so it definitely pays to also see what the others
    have to say, so that you can strike that much-needed balance.

    • http://twitter.com/heidicohen HeidiCohen

      Melonie – I agree. Comments like yours that enhance the conversation, whether they agree or disagree with you, are useful. Comments that provide differing or negative views (stated politely and without foul language) a real plus. They give bloggers and social media managers an opportunity to engage and win a customer. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen