Posting not pestering

One strategy I often propose to companies interested in getting involved in blogging is not to create your own blog, but to participate in other people’s blogs.  Rather than trying to build your own audience following, you can go where the audience already is and join the conversation there.  It’s a good ‘dipping your toe in the water’ tactic that helps clients get familiar with blogging, build their confidence and listen to online conversations relevant to them while avoiding many of the common concerns about blogging (like time, ROI, proof-reading, having something to say).

ReadWriteWeb has a good post about How to Comment About Your Company on Blog Posts, Without Being Spammy, which suggests:

  1. Update us on new developments
  2. Clarify your product or market position
  3. Articulate differentiation
  4. Talk up the other team
  5. Add humour or insider insights

Note how many of these approaches go against traditional corporate comms wisdom (eg, “never mention the competition”), and are more akin to the attitude of The 3 “Impossible” Conversations for Corporations (eg, “Saying positive things about your competitors” and “Admitting your were wrong.”)

Here are some of my thoughts on other ways to comment on blog posts:

  • Look for opportunities to comment about your complementary product (or service), not just a competing one. The audience and their needs may well be aligned. Monitor blog posts about your partners so you can comment “We use the XYZ medical tablet device and found integrating our electronic patient record system onto it a breeze. The camera is great and we’ve had good feedback from nurses on usability.” You take an endorser role, and have credible experience to share as a sophisticated user.  Plus your partner appreciates it.  However, your post still needs to be relevant and you complement the product discussed closely – otherwise every channel partner of every major IT vendor would quickly swamp the world’s blogs.
  • Be part of the community. If you are a regular contributor with a track record of making useful posts, then an occasional (still relevant) self-serving post is more likely to be forgiven.
  • Don’t comment – write your own post that trackbacks to the original blog instead.  This also creates content for your own blog, it can can be longer than a comment, and the tone can be self-centred since its on your own blog.  I also have a theory that the authors of blogs pay greater attention to trackback notifications. The notification often includes more information (name, URL of your blog, title of your blog post) than a comment does. Trackbacks are listed before comments in many popular blog engines. Sure, trackbacks have a reputation for spam, but so do comments and most blogs do enable them.

Do you have an opinion about which is more effective: leaving comments vs. posting with trackbacks?