I’ve been thinking about the online “comment” of late. In reality, or so my theory goes, the comment is really at the core of what social media is all about. You write a blog post, someone leaves a comment, you comment back. You tweet something, someone tweets back a comment, you tweet back a comment in response. Commenting, it seems to me, is the key to everything we do in the online world, or at least it would seem to be the key to Web 2.0 at the very least. One might say that “conversing” and “commenting” are synonymous in the online world. It’s all about the trade-off of ideas and opinions. This all seems pretty basic, right?
And yet, I seem to be encountering more and more often scenarios that undermine this “basic” aspect of social media. I wanted to run these by you and see if you’re noticing the same things.
When I get tired of leaving blog comments
As a blogger, I do my very best to answer every single comment I get, even if it’s just a one-liner. I don’t always succeed, but I think if you come here you know the chances are pretty good you’ll get a comment in reply. I work hard on that because I know how busy people are these days. The fact that you not only read what I say but also take the time to comment means a lot to me. Really. I figure the best way I can show that is to reciprocate.
As a blog reader, I don’t comment nearly as much as I used to, but I’ve never really been one to leave a “nice post” comment. When I read something and I’m spurred on to leave a comment, I take time out of *my* busy schedule to leave my thoughts there. Now, a lot of the bloggers I read are really good about commenting back, and they have great communities to show for it. In fact, entire conversations develop just among the blogger and his or her commenters.
There are some bloggers, though, that never seem to respond to anything. In fact, these folks often only reply to “troll” type comments, which makes you almost wonder if that’s the kind of comment they want. I love the way these folks write, but after leaving several comments and never getting a response back, I find myself kind of wondering if I should continue to spend my time talking to, well, myself. I like to leave comments not just to see my words on someone else’s page but rather because I enjoy the dialog. If the blogger doesn’t have that same desire, I’m apt to go elsewhere. Eventually. That’s a bummer.
Commenting on Facebook
I inadvertently started a little debate on Facebook over the weekend, so I thought I would spread the chaos into the blogosphere as well. As is the case with blogging, I feel that the most fun part of leaving a comment on Facebook is engaging in a conversation (I know, these 2 buzz words are becoming evil in the online world, but I mean them in their most unbuzzy forms). If someone updates Facebook with something interesting, I tend to scan all of the comments first, then I leave my own. Or maybe I don’t leave my own if it looks like the conversation is getting ugly. But I really enjoy commenting not just on the update but also on what other people have said. I have met a lot of great people that way, in fact – they were “friends” of the person who had updated the status initially, but through regular conversing, we got to know each other as well.
I’ve found, however, that a lot of people look at Facebook commenting as a sort of “drive by opinion” opportunity. They see an update, they want to get their opinion out there, and then they move on to the next thing. There are a few (in my view) disadvantages to this approach.
1. Someone may have already said what you wanted to say, in which case you are really highlighting the fact that you didn’t read anything else apart from the update.
2. Someone may have added a perspective that would alter your opinion
3. Someone may have said something like, “This conversation is a sore subject because xyz, can we take this offline?” in which case your comment may appear insensitive.
4. If you are vehemently for or against the initial update and voice that opinion, you could end up looking like a sour-puss if it turns out the person changed their mind in the middle of the comment thread.
It’s not to say that this approach is wrong, but it just seems (to me) to miss the whole idea of what social media is about. If you just want to get your opinion out there, why not go back to traditional marketing, where there is a lot more time between your “update” and people responding? If you’re participating on a social media platform, wouldn’t you hedge towards being, I don’t know, more social?
So what do you think? Am I being too picky? Am I taking the word “social” too literally? What are you finding out there?
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Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dharmasphere/20993325/ via Creative Commons