The first rule about comment responding is that you... always respond to comments. People like to be acknowledged, and if you’re lucky enough (and that’s certainly what it is) to get a comment, that person deserves a response. Of course, there are also exceptions—like when a commenter is abusive or using your comment section to spread spam. In these instances, occasionally, it’s perfectly okay to delete comments, but do so carefully. Screenshots may have been taken, and if it looks like you’re deleting comments just because you don’t like them, that tears down your reputation.
Otherwise, when it comes to responding to comments, there are a few guidelines to follow. You don’t want your reply to top the list of the worst comments of the year (especially when 2015 is just starting). It takes practice, a little patients, and self-control in order to respond optimally. Whether it’s your personal blog or you’re responding as the voice for a company, keep these rules in mind:
1. Be genuinely happy to receive comments
Thanking the person for taking the time to comment is a no-brainer—yet it’s often overlooked. Nobody “has” to post comments or try to engage with you. Just like smiling when you’re talking on the phone makes it seem like you’re happy, being in the right mindset when replying can work wonders. In fact, Mind Body Green has a few things to teach you about happiness, and it might be a make or break for your comments section.
2. Size matters
Sometimes short and sweet (like a simple, “Thanks!”) is all that’s really required. Sometimes a longer, thoughtful response is in order (like when a commenter asks you a question). However, remember that this isn’t a two-way street. A lot of other people are often reading these comments as lurkers. Respond to the commenter, but also make sure your reply will be well-received by any passive viewers.
3. Respond ASAP
People are used to instant gratification, and they know you’re probably notified instantly when they send a comment. Make it a rule to reply within the same day at least, and preferably within a couple of hours. Is it really that time consuming to fire off a response for your comments section? Probably not, and a quick response makes your readers feel valued.
4. Don’t link in comments
There’s a time and place for links, such as in the blog or article people are commenting about. However, links are basically citations to back up an opinion or news coverage. Links also take people away from the page they’re on. Once you get comments rolling, you don’t want to send readers and commenters away. That’s like someone trying to start a conversation with you, and you telling them they should go talk to someone else across town.
5. Spellcheck, spellcheck, spellcheck
It’s natural to spend plenty of time re-drafting and checking for typos when writing a blog. But what about with the comments? One embarrassing mistake can hijack the entire thread and instantly cost you your authority and reputation. Just because you technically can reply in under three seconds doesn’t mean you should (especially if you occasionally must answer from your iPhone. Think: autocorrect, yikes!). The comments are part of your piece.
When you post a blog, it’s not complete. It never is. The comments are the icing on the cake, so make sure it stays fresh and sweet.