For many of the savviest eCommerce brands out there communicating with customers via blogs and social media, is all part of a wider plan to reinforce their brands image and engage customers on a deeper level. The right kind of dialog back and forth between brands and their consumers, can create and nurture a fully engaged online community. But how do brands manage the comments on their Social Media sites and blogs, to ensure that things don’t get out of hand and things don’t become a free-for-all? And are comments sections on blogs always appropriate or even needed?
Open doors policy
In the spirit of everyones welcome, some brands opt to allow all their customers to comment on their various pages. This is a good option if you are after some contributions pronto and you really can’t afford to deter people with complicated processes. This is a hard to manage approach however, as the sheer volume of posts will mean a lot of admin and you will have to respond to the posts with feedback, a lack of which will drive customers away through boredom and disappointment. Another draw back of letting anyone comment on your sites and channels, is that it potentially opens the doors to discussion of a very low quality. Some of which will just be noise, like users posting adverts to other sites and promotions. This approach also makes it hard for brands to develop a community of users, as it becomes increasingly hard, again due to numbers to pick out the posters of high-quality content and encourage them to keep coming back.
Comment management plugins
Some brands use what’s known as plug-ins to handle their blog comments. This can be done via hosting servers, which require the user to set up a profile or account before accessing the blogs. By demanding that users set up an account, these brands are ensuring that those leaving comments have some sort of online profile and that they are therefor not robots posting spam. These servers don’t allow you to use a pseudonym to post under, instead they often access social media profiles and copy information directly across. This is an issue however, as research has shown that comments posted under pseudonyms tend to be of a higher quality than comments posted anonymously or even comments posted under the users real name.
Some brands only accept comments from members of their own online communities. These are the sorts of brands that produce products that consumers need to be constantly learning about. Products such as video games where new moves and cheats come to consumers attentions through forums, blogs and online communities. These online communities are comprised of regular users, all of whom will have their own profiles and logins. If you are a small brand looking to build up a volume of engaged bloggers, this is not the approach for you.
No comments allowed
Some brands don’t allow users to comment on their blogs despite regularly putting out articles of quality content. Huge global brands such as Nike and Twitter for example, don’t accept comments and their images are scarcely impacted as a consequence. However, smaller brands and businesses that don’t accept comments on their blogs, risk giving the impression that they are not particularly interested in dialogue and discussion with customers and this is detrimental. By all means avoid a comments section if you don’t think that you have the task-force in place to monitor a high volume of complaints and queries, but you risk alienating your online consumers as a result.
The type of comments section you should have really depends on who your brand is and how you want it to be perceived. A comments section can result in interesting discussion between users, which can allow a brand to gain insight into how its own audience perceives it. There is of course the potential for well thought out brand specific blogs to garner abuse and complaints in their comments sections and it is therefor vital that you have the people power to monitor and manage all interactions. You are ideally looking to create a safe space for discussion to flourish, where users feel comfortable enough to share their opinions, thus creating an online community and allowing your brand to gain insight into what its customers really think.