Online marketers are often hesitant to delve too deeply into the world of online comments sections. On the one hand, comments are an opportunity to engage with real consumers and get constructive feedback. On the other hand, there’s the risk that comment sections will be taken over by spammers and people with nothing good to say, and your website will become a veritable wall of graffiti.
That’s where comment and reputation sites come in. These sites essentially provide a comment platform on your company’s website, complete with the tools to shape it into exactly the kind of forum you want to have.
The Benefits of Online Comments Sections for your Business
Engage with your audience. You probably already know how important it is to engage with followers on your company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Social media users want to know that someone is actually out there receiving their comments. If they feel like their comments are just going into a black hole, they’ll stop interacting with your brand. Comments sections give you another channel to engage with consumers directly on your website or blog.
Learn what consumers want—and what you can do better. Everyone can benefit from some constructive criticism. What you need to do as a comment moderator is determine what criticism is actually valuable and what’s not (usually it’s pretty easy to tell the difference between the two). The ultimate goal of most companies is to convert website visitors into buyers, so pay attention to the things those potential buyers say if you want to get their business.
Build up your brand name. Don’t just restrict yourself to interacting within your own comments section—visit other relevant sites and join the discussion. Don’t blatantly promote yourself, but do contribute valuable information from your area of expertise. This will spread awareness of your brand and encourage other comment readers to learn more about you. The commenting site Disqus has a great example of how this online word-of-mouth approach worked well for the game company Zynga.
Encourage readers to learn more about your industry. By sparking a conversation in a comments section, you’ll also be encouraging readers who want to join the discussion to do more research on the subject you’re talking about. Ideally, this research will lead them to learn more about your company.
Connect with other social platforms. Almost all third-party commenting platforms allow you to sync comments on your site to other popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to beef up your online presence and stay engaged with your audience through a number of different channels.
What Businesses Can These Sites Benefit?
Small local businesses. Many local businesses do their best advertising through word-of-mouth, but there’s no reason why you can’t bring that word-of-mouth approach to the web. By engaging with potential customers and other local businesses online, you’ll expand your online presence and build more buzz.
Startups. If you’re marketing a small, recently started business, one of your primary goals is probably just to start building brand awareness. Commenting sites allow you to do this by engaging in conversations across your own site and major social media networks. They’re a great way to make your online voice be heard.
Large, established businesses. Even huge sites like ESPN and The Washington Post use third-party commenting platforms. These commenting systems are especially important when you run a high-traffic website and need to ensure that your comments section isn’t taken over by trolls or spambots.
Almost any type of business can benefit from using social commenting tools. You can choose different platforms depending on what your specific needs and goals are and even customize most platforms to give them a unique feel.
Third-party commenting platforms are only as good as the companies that use them. You need to understand all the available features and how to use them to their full advantage if you truly want to have a high-quality comments section.
Regularly check and respond to comments. In general, the companies that are the most successful are the ones who respond directly—and in a timely manner—to their social media followers. Use a commenting platform that will allow you to sync social media platforms so you can do things like respond to a Tweet directly from your website.
Carefully moderate comments. Pretty much all commenting platforms will have blacklisting and other moderation tools so your comments section stays clean. Don’t let your comments be overrun by rude or irrelevant remarks—it should be a high-quality forum for worthwhile discussions.
Do a trial run with a commenting platform. Before committing to one commenting platform, see if they offer a one month trial period so you can get a good feel for their features and determine if they really do help you increase web traffic. Perform analytics on your site before and after the trial so you have concrete evidence of the effect of the platform, and don’t be afraid to try a few different platforms before you select one.
Individual Social Networks in this Category
Disqus. You can easily add Disqus to your site if you run it through a platform like Tumblr, WordPress, or Blogger, or you can integrate it with a custom HTML site. One of the cool features of Disqus is that you can have comments appear in real-time, so visitors can see how much activity there is on your site. You can also set up login and account requirements for commenters, and control whitelisting and blacklisting so only high-quality discussions take place on your site.
Intensedebate. This commenting system was created by the same people who made WordPress, but it can be used with any type of site. You can use this add-on to enable comment voting, images, clickable links, and threads—but only if you want. You control all features by simply checking or unchecking boxes on your site’s dashboard.
Livefyre. Like Disqus, one of Livefyre’s major selling points is its real-time commenting system (you don’t have to refresh the page to see new comments). Another cool feature is that Livefyre’s comments are SEO-friendly, so it can be a huge boon as you work to climb the search engine rankings.
Commentino. If you’re looking for engaging industry conversations to join on other sites, Commentino may be useful for you. Think of it as a comments aggregator—it gathers all your online comments together into one page so web users can see a sort of comment “profile”. It also allows you to search for like-minded commenters and relevant articles.
Echo. Echo features something called in-line sharing, which allows users to share their comments on multiple social networks at the same time. It’s also fully customizable and has some useful moderation and analytics tools as part of its package.