By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
If you don’t have a blog, read no further. (Although you might want to re-think that decision.)
If your blog is a digital soapbox and a one-way monolog, you are probably realizing less than half the value of the time and effort that you invest. Here’s why.
Virtually all successful blogs—particularly as hospital and healthcare marketing tools—are read frequently and grow in audience size because they inspire interaction, comments and sharing.
Think dialog, not monolog.
The original word “blog,” (a contraction of the words “web log” says all-knowing Wikipedia) has become a misnomer for the most effective uses of online communications in business. Monologs have mostly given way to dialogs when the content is interesting, authoritative, original, thought provoking and—hopefully—sharable.
And when the content inspires or solicits reader comments, it opens the door to benefits for author and reader alike. Popular blogging tools, such as WordPress (free), facilitate both the content creation (for the writer) as well as inviting space for comments, reactions, responses to questions, extension of ideas and social sharing (for readers).
The early stages of the communications cycle are in place. The writer writes. The reader responds. But all too often that’s where it stops. Blogging tools can be structured so that reader comments can been reviewed before open publication.
Here are four important tips to take things into the interaction red zone and why it’s an absolute “must” to read, review, moderate and act upon blog comments from your readers.
Engagement is a big part of the end game. Your investment in creating and maintaining a blog falls short of its greater value and purpose. When the writer (blog owner/originator) never reacts to the feedback, and the power of dialog, interaction and engagement chills quickly. Conversely, responding to comments extends and solidifies the relationship. Often it furthers content sharing and encourages readers—now empowered with a sense of belonging—to return (and interact) again in the future.
Positive comments are insightful. Comments will reveal areas of reader interest, likes and dislikes, and provide new or fresh perspectives. There’s an opportunity to build on content or ideas that resonate with readers. Positive comments are more than flattery. When they reflect acceptance by others, that is a form of social proof.
There are lessons in negative comments too. And when comments are, let’s say less-than-positive in some way, they offer an opportunity to clarify, correct errors, elaborate on the original concept or to improve where the content was deliberately or accidently provocative.
Caution: Sometimes spam can say the nicest things. Comments that are published without review can be dangerous. Perhaps you’ve seen notes that appear to be friendly or flattering, but maybe they are generic, bland or completely off-point. Chances are these are actually spammy links to a casino, offshore pharmacy or the like. Don’t be fooled by the flattery, look for a legitimate source, and install a spam-screening system such as CAPTCHA.
For related reading, see our previous post: Rules of Engagement: Motivations That Make Your Content Contagious, and The Nuts and Bolts of Engaging with Healthcare Consumers.