Comments are one of the real weapons of blogging. "Traditional" websites don't have them. This is the reason that blogs create conversations instead of lectures.
While attending the University of Vermont, I sat through dozens of lectures in auditoriums with 200+ other students. It wasn't very personal, and frankly, they weren't very interesting. Each year, the classes got smaller and smaller until you were actually having a conversation with the professor and the other students. This is the time where you could ask questions, contribute your own ideas, and actually learn something.
Blogs are the equivalent of the "senior year" on the web. No longer are customers forced to sit through the lecture of a website where all you can do is receive the information the website wants you to, which usually isn't very much.
Blogs allow you to participate by clicking the 'comment' link found at the bottom of every article on a blog and adding your own thoughts and asking questions. Sometimes the author of the article will answer your question or further the conversation, and often times other readers will do the answering and the continuing.
This feedback results in tremendous value for your company when your readers:
- ask questions you haven't thought of yourself
- point out problems in your products or services you hadn't noticed
- give you ideas for new products
- start developing a relationship with you that eventually translates into sales
Negative Comments: the greatest weapon
The big fear my clients have with comments is the negative comment. No one likes to be criticized, particularly in such a public way. I will ask the client at this point if they are committed to customer service and they always answer, "Of course."
"Than it isn't a problem," I tell them. After I let them have a funny look on their face for a few seconds I explain that negative comments can be the best weapon of all. They allow you to address a problem in a very public and permanent way and show the world what a good guy/gal you are. Furthermore, your other readers will often jump in and defend you without you having to lift a finger yourself. And that's an awesome feeling when your customers come to your own defense!
Finally, should a comment go over the line and include profanity or really offensive language, you can always delete it (you can even pre-screen comments before they are 'live'). But don't delete the ones from folks who are just upset for a valid reason. Address their concerns and let the comment and your response become a testimonial of how committed you are to having happy customers.
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