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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 December 2, 2018

          7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

          7 Public Speaking Techniques To Help Connect With Your Audience

          When giving a presentation or speech, you have to engage your audience effectively in order to truly get your point across. Unlike a written editorial or newsletter, your speech is fleeting; once you’ve said everything you set out to say, you don’t get a second chance to have your voice heard in that specific arena.

          You need to make sure your audience hangs on to every word you say, from your introduction to your wrap-up. You can do so by:

          1. Connecting them with each other

          Picture your typical rock concert. What’s the first thing the singer says to the crowd after jumping out on stage? “Hello (insert city name here)!” Just acknowledging that he’s coherent enough to know where he is is enough for the audience to go wild and get into the show.

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          It makes each individual feel as if they’re a part of something bigger. The same goes for any public speaking event. When an audience hears, “You’re all here because you care deeply about wildlife preservation,” it gives them a sense that they’re not just there to listen, but they’re there to connect with the like-minded people all around them.

          2. Connect with their emotions

          Speakers always try to get their audience emotionally involved in whatever topic they’re discussing. There are a variety of ways in which to do this, such as using statistics, stories, pictures or videos that really show the importance of the topic at hand.

          For example, showing pictures of the aftermath of an accident related to drunk driving will certainly send a specific message to an audience of teenagers and young adults. While doing so might be emotionally nerve-racking to the crowd, it may be necessary to get your point across and engage them fully.

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          3. Keep going back to the beginning

          Revisit your theme throughout your presentation. Although you should give your audience the credit they deserve and know that they can follow along, linking back to your initial thesis can act as a subconscious reminder of why what you’re currently telling them is important.

          On the other hand, if you simply mention your theme or the point of your speech at the beginning and never mention it again, it gives your audience the impression that it’s not really that important.

          4. Link to your audience’s motivation

          After you’ve acknowledged your audience’s common interests in being present, discuss their motivation for being there. Be specific. Using the previous example, if your audience clearly cares about wildlife preservation, discuss what can be done to help save endangered species’ from extinction.

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          Don’t just give them cold, hard facts; use the facts to make a point that they can use to better themselves or the world in some way.

          5. Entertain them

          While not all speeches or presentations are meant to be entertaining in a comedic way, audiences will become thoroughly engaged in anecdotes that relate to the overall theme of the speech. We discussed appealing to emotions, and that’s exactly what a speaker sets out to do when he tells a story from his past or that of a well-known historical figure.

          Speakers usually tell more than one story in order to show that the first one they told isn’t simply an anomaly, and that whatever outcome they’re attempting to prove will consistently reoccur, given certain circumstances.

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          6. Appeal to loyalty

          Just like the musician mentioning the town he’s playing in will get the audience ready to rock, speakers need to appeal to their audience’s loyalty to their country, company, product or cause. Show them how important it is that they’re present and listening to your speech by making your words hit home to each individual.

          In doing so, the members of your audience will feel as if you’re speaking directly to them while you’re addressing the entire crowd.

          7. Tell them the benefits of the presentation

          Early on in your presentation, you should tell your audience exactly what they’ll learn, and exactly how they’ll learn it. Don’t expect them to listen if they don’t have clear-cut information to listen for. On the other hand, if they know what to listen for, they’ll be more apt to stay engaged throughout your entire presentation so they don’t miss anything.

          Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm4.staticflickr.com

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