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Be a Comment Rockstar: 10 Terrific Tips!

Be a Comment Rockstar: 10 Terrific Tips!


    by libertyandvigilance

    Social media” has numerous definitions, and all of them share the principle that the Internet has given us a lot of cheap ways to communicate with each other. As computers have gotten cheaper and broadband pipes have become fatter, we’ve expanded the multimedia involved: text has been prominent since the BBS glory days, but pictures are up there too, and making your own videos no longer draws double-takes. (Extending further into the future is building your own 3D content in virtual worlds.)

    I’ve become a social media expert not by label alone, but sheer, dogged experience. After 100,000+ comments/forum posts/etc., I’ve distilled what’s worked best for me, much of it learned from vets who’ve spent even longer stretches “in the field”. If you’re wondering how to make your blossoming comments shine, this is for you!

    1. Write eclectically

    In other words: observe the diversity that’s out there, then share the best gems that other people miss. After scanning what’s already been said.

    Always be looking for connections other people aren’t — or internalize, but aren’t bringing up. One of my fave things is share origin stories, and I’m not limited to comic book characters. I wrote a piece for leading design weblog Smashing Magazine where I revealed where the drumbeat in the Kill Bill trailer music came from, how Russell Brown came to be the godfather of Photoshop, and 3 more “I didn’t know that!” stories. While that’s a post instead of a comment, the responses make it clear: there’s a big hunger for filling in gaps.

    Yes, it’s healthy to continue discussions by threading someone else’s thoughtline, but to rock — to create change by leading — you should be initiating conversations that influence others.

    2. Don’t use “lonely humor”

    “Lonely humor” includes when a comment is snarky or sarcastic, but provides nothing else. Like empty calories, “lonely humor” doesn’t contribute to your long-term health or wealth.

    Who’s to judge? Well beside the site owner(s), there are certain things which are funny at first but quickly become tiresome blah. One of the mother of all examples is declaring “First!” if no one has commented yet. This gets really annoying when you’ve seen it a handful of times, and besides self-pride, does not add any value whatsoever. It gets forgotten in the long run, too.

    Also in this boat but trickier to tell are predictable reactions. While I’m on the liberal side of Internet memes and don’t mind getting Rickrolled in fresh ways, humor should be applied with relevance to the conversation at hand — in other words, if the original topic isn’t about Rick Astley finally winning an MTV award, it’s not a criminal sin to Rickroll the post, but there are so many better choices, so go with them. Humor can be a tasty wrap to flavor a meatier comment in, but like the best political satire (think Jon Stewart), make sure your irrelevance surrounds relevant matters.

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    3. Add value quickly

    Related to the “First!” thing, on some blogs and forums, you may see rules that encourage you to “Add value to the conversation”. You can read between the (guide)lines and discern this means “Don’t be a jerk and flame others.” We can also understand it as:

    “Don’t post useless crap!”

    Do be early to comment — often because later ones need to be scrolled/paged through and hardly get seen, reducing your visibility — and do be quick. This isn’t writing A-levels, and spending a great amount of time on a comment isn’t proportional to its overall impact. (That’s not necessarily true of original posts, tho.) I strive for 5 min. or less, which over the longterm leads to “quality in quantity“.

    Harsh truth: a comment without readers serves no function. Spread your thoughts prolifically. It helps to practice your typing and boost your WPM so you can comment more in the same amount of time. (I type 110 WPM with 2 fingers and a thumb.)

    4. Substantiate hearsay

    No, not these kind of rumors…

    Fleetwood Mac - Rumours  by Loony Libberswick.

      by Loony Libberswick

      rumors, in the hurtful sense, are a human problem, not a technological one. But tech facilitates spreading them, and there’s all sorts of unverified fallacies on the Internet. Sadly, such distractions can invade discussion threads, causing conflict and derailing trains of thought. Celebrity sex, political scandals, financial turmoil, or a mixture of those 3 are often involved.

      Your reply, if confronted with such a rumor, should be terse: “More details?” or “Please provide a source” will do. Then, the onus is on the rumormonger to explain themselves.

      Often, I find said rumormonger won’t reply (they don’t have anything to add or didn’t come back to check). If they don’t give a helpful answer (i.e., they rudely insult you), they aren’t worth the time. These are Gladwellian psychological tests you can use to move on.

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      By focusing on what’s tested and true, you’re advancing the conversation, and also providing a cue that you’re not gullible — a good example to set for other commenters.

      5. Express yourself uniquely

      That covers such a wide ground of behavior, doesn’t it? Let me be simple & clear: this relates to #1 in that you want to do what other people aren’t. Not just for the sake of being “different”, but because adding to the conversation also means not duplicating what’s already been said.

      Here’s an excellent opportunity: some blogs, like TechCrunch, support video comments like Seesmic. While relatively rare at present, if you have a US$25 webcam, you can easily upload a video and show yourself off in a way most people won’t do.

      Look for ops like those and seize them. You may open up new work & play possibilities by dabbling across formats: “social media” doesn’t just refer to words!

      6. Repeat your main ideas

      Day 247/365 "Um...Sir, you forgot your idea..." by Wellstone.

        by Wellstone

        This needs some clarification. Repetition helps retention. This is best used on sites you’ve become a regular at, and is great for championing what you really believe in. You may’ve seen people on political blogs gain a reputation for being forthright about certain views, and while it can get heated, that’s certainly a valid example.

        Don’t come off as a stubborn smartass though, and the best way to be proactive is explain why your ideas hold benefit for other commenters. For example, if you believe open source code is superior to proprietary software, make sure you emphasize this, and relate it to their needs (not just yours). Don’t butt-heads with others who disagree, but appeal to what they can get out of it. One of the best ways to win someone’s passion is to associate their memories of you with things that make them happier.

        (Such an old notion, but so very true.)

        Don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong, either — people love getting credit, and attributing someone who corrects your error while smiling is the best thing to do.

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        7. Don’t fall for wasteful arguments

        MUCH easier said than done! Most people can’t resist the temptation and only realize in hindsight that they were “scammed for time”. Well, being a comment rockstar means being you, not “most people”.

        By the time an argument has reared its ugly head like Rosemary’s Baby, the hope of convincing someone else to listen is ridiculously, preposterously low. And yet, I see so many humans make this mistake.

        It’s best to not get involved in the first place.

        But, if you find yourself starting to enter the “zone o’ hostility”, the most helpful way I deal with this is: I think of all the great comments I could be making, either here or somewhere else. If only… I wasn’t involved in this lame debate!

        That usually snaps me out of it; I close the web browser tab and concentrate on what we lovingly know as “productive activities”. Or disagreeing with someone who’ll really listen. :)

        Departing long before an oncoming text-trainwreck is essential, because like gambling or drug abuse, the deeper you fall, the harder it is to get out.

        If someone’s being really persistently uncivil, flag them using the social site’s moderation system, or if it’s extremely rotten, let a moderator/site owner know.

        8. Create intrigue by linking

        singing beach #11 by sandcastlematt.

          by sandcastlematt

          If you feel your comment is going to be longer than 3-4 weighty paragraphs, I suggest making your own blog post about it and linking/trackbacking from there after a brief teaser (this is welcome on most sites). That also serves the benefit of driving traffic to your site. If you don’t want to start your own blog (it’s really easy), pick one key thing you can focus on, express it in as few words as possible, and leave it at that.

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          You’ll have every opportunity to continue in future comments.

          This is useful for a number of reasons, chief among them being people’s attention spans. You want to grab and hook others for more, not bore them on your first outing. Planting the seeds and inviting someone to followup both pleases their own will to comment and is amenable to a good long-term relationship. On vibrant communities, you will see the same faces frequently, and it’s been said (I hate to use passive voice but couldn’t find who originated this):

          “Links are the currency of your online popularity.”

          Also beware of know-it-alls (in the worst sense): they’re overly concerned with using expensive-sounding words, not getting to the point, and cramming more links than you’ll ever want to check out. The sheer amount of choices negates your ability to choose. They’re not concerned with your benefit, just their ego. Know-it-alls may seem impressive, but that’s superficial. They fail the simple skill of summarizing neatly, so don’t fall for that, and don’t let your writing style head in that direction — it’s the wrong thing to do.

          Speak in your own earnest, casual voice.

          9. Ask questions for followup

          I’m a big fan of followup, and indulging my curiosity is a driving force behind this. Pushing queries is another way to help the discussion flow, and projects your own vulnerability as a human being — that you don’t know everything. And that’s fabulous, because you will learn from asking.

          Be sure to read what’s already been written: the answer may be in (or linked to) the original post or highlighted by another commenter. In which case, absorb knowledge and say thank-you.

          10. Keep track of what you’re saying

          It’s well-worth knowing your “comment assets” to understand how you’re growing. There are a number of tools out there to keep tabs on your comments. I tried several clunky systems before my current favorite, BackType, which lets you see comments you’ve made across various blogs (email the makers to get more added), and you can also follow comments of interest, or be followed.

          It’s funny and touching to read what you’ve written ages ago.

          Got comments?

          I use all 10 of the above to this day — since it’s easier to share ideas than execute them, I hope you’ll give them a live go and figure out your own specific applications.

          Now, let’s comment about comments!

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          Last Updated on April 11, 2019

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in every phase of your life. This is especially true in the workplace.

          I have personally worked with several leaders who were masters of communication. A few were wonderful speakers who could tell a great story and get everyone in the room engaged. Those of us in attendance would walk away feeling inspired and eager to help with what came next. Others were very skilled at sharing a clear direction and job expectations.

          I knew exactly what was expected of me and how to achieve my goals. This was the foundation of an energized and vibrant role I was in. What I have found is strong communication skills are incredibly helpful and sometimes critical in how well we perform at work.

          Here we will take a look at how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

          How Communication Skills Help Your Success

          Strong communication skills pave the way for success in many ways. Let’s look at a few of the big ones.

          Create a Positive Experience

          Here are two examples of how well developed communication skills helps create a positive experience:

          When I first moved to the city I now live in, I began a job search. Prior to my first live interview, I was told an address to go to. Upon arriving at the address provided, I drove around and around attempting to find the location. After 15 minutes of circling and looking for the address, I finally grabbed a parking spot and set out on foot.

          What I discovered was the address was actually down an alley and only had the number over the door. No sign for the actual company. The person that gave me those very unclear directions provided a bad experience for me.

          Had they communicated the directions to get there in a clear manner, my experience would have been much better. Instead the entire experience started off poorly and colored the entire meeting.

          As a recruiter, I frequently provide potential candidates with information about a job I’m speaking to them about. In order to do this, I also provide a picture of the overall company, the group they might be joining, and how their role fits in and impacts the entire company.

          Time and time again I have been told by candidates that I have provided the clearest picture of a company and role they have ever heard. They have a positive experience when I clearly communicate to them. Even when the position does not work out for them, often times they will want to stay in touch with me due to the open communication and beneficial experience they had during the interviewing process.

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          Strong communication skills will provide a positive experience in virtually any interaction you have with someone.

          Help Leadership Skills

          It’s certainly a skill all its own to be able to lead others.

          Being a mentor and guiding others towards success is a major hallmark of great leaders. Another characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to communicate clearly.

          As I referenced above, having a leader who can plainly articulate the company’s mission and direction goes a really long way towards being the Captain of the boat that others want to follow. It’s like saying “here’s our destination and this is how we are going to get there” in a way that everyone can get on board with.

          Another critical component of everyone helping to sail the boat in the right direction is knowing what your portion is all about. How are you helping the boat move towards its destination in the manner than is consistent with the leaders’ vision?

          If you have a boss or a manager that can show you what it takes for not only you to be successful, but also how your performance helps the company’s success then you’ve got a winner. A boss with superior communication skills.

          Build Better Teams

          Most of us work in teams of some sort or another. During the course of my career, I have led teams up to 80 and also been an individual contributor.

          In my individual contributor roles, I have been part of a larger team. Even if you are in business for yourself, you have to interact with others in one manner or another.

          If you have strong communication skills, it helps to build better teams. This is true whether you are in an IT department with 100 other fellow programmers or if you own your own business and have customers or vendors you communicate with.

          When you showcase your robust ability to communicate well with others while interacting with them, you are building a better team.

          Now let’s jump in to how to improve communication skills to help you pave the way for your workplace success.

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          How to Improve Communication Skills for Workplace Success

          There are many tips, tricks, and techniques to improve communication skills. I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much information, so let’s focus on the things that will provide the biggest return on your time investment.

          Most of these tips will be fairly easy to become aware of but will take time and effort to implement. So let’s go!

          1. Listen

          Ever heard the saying you have two ears and one mouth for a reason? If you haven’t, then here’s the reason:

          Being a good listener is half the equation to being a good communicator.

          People who have the ability to really listen to someone can then actually answer questions in a meaningful way. If you don’t make the effort to actively listen, then you are really doing yourself and the other person a disservice in the communication department.

          Know that person who is chomping at the bit to open his or her mouth the second you stop talking? Don’t be that person. They haven’t listened to at least 1/2 of what you’ve said. Therefore the words that spill out of their mouth are going to be about 1/2 relevant to what you just said.

          Listen to someone completely and be comfortable with short periods of silence. Work on your listening skills first and foremost.

          2. Know Your Audience

          Knowing your audience is another critical component to having strong communication skills. The way you interact with your manager should be different than how you interact with your kids. This isn’t to say you need to be a different person with everyone you interact with. Far from it.

          Here is a good way to think about it:

          Imagine using your the same choice of words and body language you use with your spouse while interacting with your boss. That puts things in a graphic light!

          You want to ensure you are using the type of communication most relevant to your audience.

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          3. Minimize

          I have lunch with a business associate about 3 times a year. We’ve been talking for several years now about putting a business deal together.

          He is one of those people that simply overwhelms others with a lot of words. Sometimes when I ask him a question, I get buried beneath such an avalanche of words that I’m more confused than when I asked the question. Needless to say this is most likely a large portion of why we never put the deal together.

          Don’t be like my lunch business associate. The goal of talking to or communicating with someone is to share actual information. The goal is not to confuse someone, it’s to provide clarity in many cases.

          State what needs to be stated as succinctly as possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some pleasant conversation about the weather too.

          The point is to not create such an onslaught of words and information that the other person walks away more confused than when they started.

          4. Over Communicate

          So this probably sounds completely counter intuitive to what I just wrote about minimizing your communication. It seems like it might be but it’s not.

          What I mean by over communicating is ensuring that the other person understands the important parts of what you are sharing with them. This can be done simply yet effectively. Here’s a good example:

          Most companies have open enrollment for benefits for the employees in the fall. The company I work for has open enrollment from November 1 to 15. The benefits department will send out a communication to all employees around October 1st, letting them know open enrollment is right around the corner and any major changes that year. There’s also a phone number and email for people to contact them with any questions.

          Two weeks later, we all get a follow up email with basically the same information. We get a 3rd communication the week before open enrollment and another one 1 day before it starts.

          Finally we get 2 emails during enrollment reminding us when open enrollment ends.

          There’s minimal information, it’s more of a reminder. This is effective over communication.

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          5. Body Language

          The final critical component to how to improve communication skills for workplace success is body language. This is something most of us have heard about before but, a reminder is probably a good idea.

          When I am in a meeting with someone I am comfortable with, I tend to kind of slouch down in my chair and cross my arms. When I catch myself doing this, I sit up straight and uncross my arms. I remember that crossing arms can many times be interpreted as a sign of disagreement or conflict.

          In general, the best rule of thumb is to work towards having open body language whenever possible at work. This means relaxing your posture, not crossing your arms, and looking people in the eye when speaking with them.

          When you are speaking in front of others, stand up straight and speak in a clear voice. This will convey confidence in your words.

          Conclusion

          Possessing strong communication skills will help you in many facets of your life and most certainly in the workplace.

          Good communication helps create better teams, positive experiences with those we interact with, and are critical for leadership.

          There are numerous tactics and techniques to be used to improve communication skills. Here we’ve reviewed how to improve communication skills for workplace success.

          Now go communicate your way to success.

          More Resources About Effective Communication

          Featured photo credit: HIVAN ARVIZU via unsplash.com

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