[This is intended for suppliers and businesses who post here but can be adapted to be used by any commercial interest.] Are you confused with social media stuff? Not sure how to jump in? Commenting on commercial sites can improve your bottom line because visitors are favorably disposed to businesses that leave appropriate comments. There is no better way to show their interests matter to you quite so directly. Best of all, you control your message. However, to position yourself with authority and credibility, there are some practices you should avoid. Here is what not-to-do, what to do (even anonymously) and lastly, I include a cheat sheet on how to post a comment.
What not to do:
The two worst things you can do on a blog are to astroturf or post a business card or blurb entry. Of these, astroturfing is worse. It means one who pretends to be an impartial observer. Some businesses pretend to be customers and write glowing reviews of themselves. It’s really easy to pick these out. Here’s a recent example that was posted to my last entry on the Design Piracy Protection Prohibition Act:
Author: sewing scott (IP: 18.104.22.168, smtp.cfda.com)
As someone who sews at home for my friends and family I am not worried about this bill. I have read it and it only prevents the commerical reproduction and those who benefit from selling others work. It won’t effect us do it yourselfers… As a young designer I spend too much time and resource for others to steal from me. I am too small a company to fight the big guys which are represented by the AAFA. I used to work for a big company and was shocked that instead of asking us designers to design they would send us out shopping. We would bring clothes back to the studio and decosntruct them… I couldn’t do that so i left… This law is good for american designers and is not about an elitist group at all.
As this comment was posted from CFDA offices (the most strident lobbyists of this bill), you can see why this is considered to be astroturfing. It was also cause for a good laugh among kindred. Normally astroturf comments are deleted. It’s best to be honest about where your interests lie, making your points from a position of integrity. Besides, dishonesty reduces respect for your organization or position; “Scott” has only undermined CFDA’s credibility.
Posting business card entries:
These are rarely posted with anything but the best intentions. I really hate to delete these because these are often valuable resources for my visitors meaning my site becomes more valuable too. Here’s an example from Mike Benjamin who posted to A Fabric Sales Rep. I couldn’t publish his entry (below) but I really wanted to help him so I passed his information along to people I know in private:
I’m looking for sales rep in any area. We are a Los Angeles based wholesale fabric company. We have been in business for more than 20 years and we already established business locally and internationally. We are carrying a wide variety of fabrics in wide range of colors in stock; just to mention a few, we carry woven fabrics such as double georgettes, tricot lining, pebble georgette, high multi chiffon, poly rayon spandex, etc. We also carry laces, different kinds of silks, satins, fleece, charmeuse and many many more and in wide variety of colors. Please don’t hesitate to call me at the number below or email me at this address. We hope that you will give us a chance to do business with your company. Thank you and I am looking forward to talk to you soon.
Mike Benjamin (email)
Textile City, Inc.
741 E. 8th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90021
Ph: 213 892 0585
fax: 213 488 4933
On blogs, it’s frowned upon to post your info without contributing to the conversation. If you’re a business, it is OKAY to have an agenda, just provide some advice (read others comments) or your opinion of the problem and what to do about it. At close, there’s nothing wrong with saying “I know this because…” or “In my experience at ….”. People will click on your information based on how useful you’ve been. It is best you don’t leave addresses, phone numbers etc in the comment field (the box where you compose your entry) because it gets cluttered and too commercial. People can contact you if you put your URL in the top part of the form, your name becomes a hyperlink. If you don’t have a web page, then by all means leave a phone number or email address. Returning to Mike’s example, he could have said something like this and it would have been posted:
Becoming an independent sales rep for fabrics involves XYZ (the more details the better). An ideal candidate has _________ experience but it depends on several factors like _________. As a matter of fact, I have an opening now for an independent sales rep in any territory. Our product line consists of ___________________. Feel free to call me (telephone) or email me (email) if you or someone you know is interested in this opportunity.
This will get Mike two things: possible job candidates and customers who want to buy his fabrics. As I said, visitors are thrilled with businesses that go the extra mile to participate on their turf. Robert Kahn at Reliable is good at posting comments. He used the medium to answer questions posted by others and to correct some inconsistencies in my entry. Posting good comments is a great way to get a blogger to feature you in an entry (as I have him) or to invite you to write a post (ditto). [As an aside, I’m glad I was able to find a way to post Mike’s information. He also took the time to thank me for the referrals I sent his way.]
Misc: Posting on old entries
Don’t hesitate to post a comment on a blog entry that is several years old for at least three reasons. First, your comment (and URL) will be indexed by search engines. Second, on this site, any new comment is posted to the front page so more people than you imagine will read it right away. Third, your comment may be sufficiently interesting that the blog owner will create a new post featuring your insights.
If you want to be anonymous:
My feeling is anonymity is to be respected but I request you make it obvious. It is traditional to put “anonymous coward” in the name field. The latter is a sort of joke, it says you have strong opinions but don’t care to be barbecued over a spit in expressing your views. Please be fair. You are free to disagree but personal attacks directed against others are deleted. You still need to leave a valid email address which no one but the blog owner can see.
Subscribe to comments:
When you leave a comment, there is a check box to indicate if you want to subscribe to the comment thread. This means the blog software will automatically email you if someone posts a comment after you, saving you the bother of having to remember to return. This will not expose you to spam; it’s no loss or gain to me which you choose but I recommend subscribing if it’s a topic you care about.
On my site, your first comment is held for moderation by default. This means I have to approve it. After that, your comments will go through automatically. If you include two or more links, it may be held for moderation. If you include more than four, the software (by default) has decided it is a spam comment and will display an error message. I find this very annoying, this site does it to me too. If this happens, you can email me and I will post it. By the way, you can find the blog owner by going to the top of the page and clicking “about”. All my contact information is there.
Last but not least, you can find the instructions on how to post a comment step by step at close. If you want to do fancy stuff like formating, this entry explains it step by step. Feel free to practice by leaving a comment in this entry and let me know if it was helpful or what needs more work.
In summary: blogging and business are entirely complimentary. Just give it a shot, you really have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.