Why does the concern for managing negative web comments overshadow the practice of skillfully responding to positive comments?
Positive comments are the seeds of conversations and the beginnings of new relationships. Shouldn’t this be the focus of your social networking?
The focus on having a strong defense (as opposed to a strong offense) suggests that many businesses are using their social media to market in a traditional fashion. In other words, they want to control the message, instead of giving up control to their customers to get them talking favorably about their brand.
If your response to favorable comments on your social media channels is “Thanks,” then it’s time to learn how to better use this interactive platform to more effectively accomplish your objectives.
You’ve Received a Comment: What’s Next?
The first thing that should come to mind when receiving any comment is what to do next.
One thing is clear, any response to a comment is always better than none at all.
Fortunately, networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ allow you to favorite, retweet, like, +1, and share. These social signals are a quick and easy way to acknowledge comments with the bare minimum effort. This should be standard practice.
When you respond to social media comments you honor the commenter. In most situations, that is enough to give a boost to their day, especially if you happen to be influential or someone they look up to.
You would think that influential people with large followings are mostly unresponsive to comments. My experience and that of others is quite the opposite. While they may be using a team to manage their social media, they understand the need to be actively engaged with their followers.
Of course, there are people with large followings that seldom if ever respond, and if they do, it is usually only to influentials and their very best friends. This is a bad practice, sort of like giving preferential treatment to your largest customers and ignoring the others.
Remember that social media democratizes media, so it’s always best to be inclusive.
If you are a business, you should endeavor to respond to every single tweet, share, and comment, regardless of the social channel.
Responding to Positive Comments
1. Acknowledge Intent
The primary value of a positive comment is its intent, not necessarily the usefulness of what may have been shared. Thus, when you acknowledge that you honor the person making it.
2. Make a Connection
Do you have something in common with the commenter? If so, blend that into your comment. Now you are referencing a shared relationship to thereby establish common ground.
3. Share an Idea
We talk a lot on the social networks about sharing value, but that isn’t always appropriate with brand new connections. It could be interpreted as “selling.” A better practice is to introduce a new possibility.
4. Suggest a Next Action
This can be a little tricky. Once again, avoid the inclination to promote. Simply encourage the commenter take action on what they specifically acknowledged in their comment, which often is the message of your blog post or article.
5. Keep the Conversation Going
If you are building your systems, you will have a method in place for circling back to take the conversation further. This could be running through your starred tweets or recent comments on your Facebook business page. However you accomplish this, it should be part of an integrated plan.
Your Social Media Implementation Plan
If you are a subscriber to my weekly newsletter, you have already seen this recent issue for building Your Social Media Implementation Plan. If not, you can subscribe right here to get future (and free) updates.
Responding to comments, both favorable and unfavorable, should be a micro-process within your overall social media marketing plan. My experience is that most businesses do not have a social media implementation plan, or if they do it is not written down.
Your social media will not come alive until you discipline yourself to build a plan, have it written down in a step-by-step manner, and then endeavor to update it periodically. As you know, technology changes, and that will affect the focus that your business should be taking.
You will most skillfully respond to positive web comments by taking a few simple actions. If they are part of a larger plan, you will have the confidence that your entire team is working in sync.
And that’s a positive thing!
Share your thoughts with a positive comment.
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)