Say It Right! The Art of Commenting On Social News Sites

One of the most overlooked but important keys to success on social news sites is commenting (expressing a personal opinion or belief).

One of the biggest draws for many social news sites is that you can interact with fellow members and the submitters through comments. Many users go to the major social news sites (such as Digg or Reddit) mainly so that they can voice their opinions on stories and carry on the conversation that the story starts. As such, the comments on any particular story are vital to its success.

Many people believe that a major key to Digg’s algorithm is the number of comments that a story has. As a result, many people who attempt to game its system think that all a submission needs is comments. So, we get stuck with crap like this:

Garbage comments

If the submitter of that story and their cohorts cared to really find out how people on Digg actually communicate, they would know those comments are not helping them at all. Many people on Digg or Reddit look at commenting this way: bad comments = suspicion. Lots of bad comments = spam.

When the community sees multiple comments exclaiming the virtues of something, they are doing to downvote those comments and your story to Bury Land. This is in their blood, and they are usually right. Many sites that pay people to vote on sites also have these users leave comments. Many forums where you can do “vote exchanges” ask people to leave a comment so they can easily be identified. As such, social news users are rightfully wary.

The problem with this is that overly eager (or even overly positive) people can get lumped in with spammers and become an accidental by-product. When that happens, those comments get down-voted and your whole story can wind up getting flagged as spam. Here’s how to keep that from happening.

Think quality, not quantity. This is foundational to all good social media marketing. If you are really contributing something of value, it is more likely to be successful. If you are just on there to churn and burn, you probably aren’t going to have a long shelf life. 3 quality comments on your story will go much further than 13 junk ones.

Be real. If you are asking someone to comment on one of your submissions, tell them to be real. If the content is junk, this might not work and you might want to think about why you are submitting junk. Here’s what a real comment looks like:

Real digg comment

Don’t be overly positive. If your only contribution to a story you liked is “Awesome!”, then refrain. Your positive vote already voiced that for you. Since most spam comments are extremely positive and basically filler, try to refrain from things that are overly upbeat unless you are just as prepared to speak your mind when you do not agree with something.

Have an opinion. Don’t forget what defines a comment. It’s a statement that has a personal opinion. State your opinion on the story. Kick off or continue the conversation.

Use humor. This should only be done if you truly know what the particular network you are on likes. But a comment that uses an inside joke or something topical the right way can give a story the extra juice it needs to put it over the top. Like this:

Reddit Humor

Be wary of the tone. If comments on one of your stories start heading south, take control of the situation. Use the guidelines above to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. If you are asking for someone to help, be sure they are following the same guidelines. If you don’t agree with someone’s comment on your story, feel free to vote them down.

When dealing with social news networks, the comments can mean the difference between a home run and a strike-out. The more that you understand the culture and what works, the better off you will be. Get involved and provide value with your comments and make sure that people you are sending your stories to do the same.

Chris Winfield is the President and Co-Founder of 10e20, a specialized social media marketing company. The Let’s Get Social column appears Tuesdays at Search Engine Land.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Search & Social | Social Media Marketing


About The Author: is the President and Co-Founder of 10e20, an Internet marketing company that specializes in social media and search marketing services. He is considered one of the leading authorities on social media marketing in the world today.

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