A Networking Guide to Social Media Commenting

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Studying the front page of Digg or Reddit can give you some pretty decent insight into what kinds of content is worthy of the communities votes.  However, it’s nothing compared to what you can learn by reading and being an active member of the “social” part of social media: the comments.  If you’re looking for insights into the “algorithms” of your favorite social news & bookmarking sites, this is your pay dirt.  But getting to know the community is just one reason to join in on the conversation…the other, which is vital to the success in the world of social bookmarking, is networking.

Regular commenting, especially on stories & submissions within your topic or category is a necessary part of building a social network.  While most social news & bookmarking sites allow comments to be voted on, which can help build (or hurt) your profile’s “karma” (as Reddit calls it), that’s not the main goal, here.  What’s more important is that active commenting shows you have a desire to be part of the community.  Those who skip this part may still be able to build a network of  “digg this and I’ll digg yours” friends, but they’ll be missing some of the most important votes of all:  The real community’s.

Here are some general guidelines for commenting on social bookmarking/news sites in order to help build a strong network.


Building a network within a social bookmarking community means voting on stories that have been recently submitted; not just after they’re on the homepage.  This activity gives you the perfect opportunity to get your comment in before the masses.  Being first to comment on a submission has obvious advantages.  Making the first comment means yours will be the first other users read as well as the longest running, giving you a better chance to rack up those up-votes.  Most importantly, being early means that users (particularly the submitter, who’s probably still actively promoting their sub) will be more likely to notice you and your comment.  Hint: if you’re trying to get the attention of power users, this is the perfect place to start.

Read & Reply

One of the most frustrating parts of social commenting sections is duplicate comments.  If you don’t take the time to read what’s already been said, you run the risk or repeating another user’s comment, and your comment will more than likely be buried.  Furthermore, reading through what others have said gives you an opportunity to reply to other great comments that could start a new conversation.  Replying directly to comments can also even send your comment directly to a user’s e-mail inbox (depending on their settings), giving you just one more chance to be noticed.

Add to the conversation

Lame comments like “what a great article” or “this was pretty cool” just isn’t going to get it done.  And while being funny can be great, in order to make the most of commenting as a networking strategy, you really need to say something that somehow expands on a submission or that can evoke a conversation.  Think of it as your goal to get users to reply to your comment – obviously without anything negative.  If you’re link dropping, be sure that the link follows this rule too, or you could find yourself in bigger trouble than simply buried.  One more thing: leave your personal stories out of it.  If you’re a member of Digg, and one of your comments gets the  reply: “Cool story, bro.” You fail.

It’s a Trap!  Avoid Comment Memes

Comment memes are essentially comments that are either repeated across a thread (or multiple threads) that generally follow a pattern or theme (like the “it’s a trap” ascii art comment meme).  Every once in a great while, you might see a “comment meme” used in a way that’s both appropriate and perhaps even… enjoyable.  That is, however, the exception to the rule.  Not only that, but these types of comments are not really the kind that help you build your network.  If used properly it might get you some up-votes, but as I said earlier, that’s not the main goal.  Generally speaking, avoid comment memes in comment sections.  That is (of course) unless you’re on Reddit, where depending on the situation, the opposite might be true…use your judgment after you…

Get to Know the community

Before you try jumping right into a community, it’s probably wise to take some time to get to know that community first.  Look over the comments, particularly in your niche, and get to know where the users generally stand on hot topic issues.  Find the top comments and take note of what types of comments are attracting the most up-votes.  Perhaps more importantly, take note of comments that have the most down votes to see what types of comments and opinions aren’t wanted.  It’s not that you have to pretend to be someone you’re not, but taking the time to do this will probably help you avoid making a comment that offends and/or gets buried.

Stay Positive & Don’t be a troll

Making negative comments on a thread or reply is pretty much whatever the opposite of networking is.  Leave your strong opinions to yourself and focus on the task at hand.  Nobody likes a troll; and entering into a flame war doesn’t help anyone.  Remember the saying: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”?  Apply that here and you’ll be just fine.

If social media is a part of your online marketing strategy, then commenting in social news communities should be a part of your every day social media routine.  It’s a surefire way to get noticed by users (especially power users) and will more than likely be a catalyst to building a strong social network.  If you’re lucky, you may even get the attention of some of the content producers opening opportunities for things like guest articles, media contacts, and even LINKS!

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.  You can find Todd on twitter at: http://twitter.com/ToddHeim/

Todd Heim

Todd Heim

Todd Heim is CEO, co-founder, and SEO manager of Essential Internet Marketing, LLC, an SEM and Social Media Marketing company based in Albany, NY.
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  • Todd,
    Great tips. If you want to be part of the “network” you really have to invest time. It is a lot of work.
    Definitely love the part about staying positive.

  • Andy

    Like you said in your post, this should be done daily. I pick out a few sites and try to make comment every day. It will pay off if you keep at it.

    I feel the most important issue is to make your comments worth reading. I hate people that post a one line sentence. Show that you know something about the topic and are truly interested.

  • Todd, an article like this really drives home the value of getting involved. Companies can’t wait until they want to say something if they hope to be part of the conversation. The need to get employees to participate and make that work is a challenge organizations have to face.

  • Thanks there, I am learning every day. Telling silly things about your own life on twitter is highly effectieve for DMS. I found this out by asking questions about the superglue that was stuck on my fingers in the weekend. Highly recognizable for everybody, I guess.

  • I like and enjoy being part of networks. Not only do i get to read some valuable information but i also get to learn new ways of improving my ways of NOT leaving any negative comments.

  • I can’t think of a better post to leave a reply. Everyone thinks of the major platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.) when it comes to social media, but blog commenting is a tremendous opportunity to make connections.

  • Very good post. It is essential to both listen to online communities and participate, interact with them. Many people tend to forget that the quality of their input is important as well, and they shouldn’t stop at the listening part.

  • I think that this is a well nuanced article.

    One of the oldest online communities I have been involved with since 1998 has avoided flaming by applying the simple principle that as adults even if you can’t agree at least you can agree to be polite. This leaves some wiggle room for genuine disagreement and considered discourse, for as they say ‘if you and your boss always agree on everything then one of you is redundant’

    So it is with online communities, unfortunately there are those that cannot handle any kind of constructive criticism and so the community becomes little more than a mutual appreciation society and that can be just as much a disaster for building genuine growth.

    Thanks again for the read

  • These guidance are really good for social media commenting

  • I actually like reading comments just as much as reading different posts, and often find myself commenting both, which starts a back and forth. I hope you don't suggest to leave only sugar coated comments, because to me, a bit of disagreement or constructive criticism, if done in a smart way, is rather valuable.

  • I actually like reading comments just as much as reading different posts, and often find myself commenting both, which starts a back and forth. I hope you don't suggest to leave only sugar coated comments, because to me, a bit of disagreement or constructive criticism, if done in a smart way, is rather valuable.