Expand Your Influence, Comment on a Blog

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What’s the fastest means of sharing your point of view effectively? Certainly not traditional bylined articles, reporter interviews and whitepapers. They’re plenty effective, but inhibited by time-consuming editorial guidelines and publishing schedules.

Instead, type up a thoughtful—and thought-provoking—comment on a respected blog. The blog comment is the Internet age’s letter to the editor. And it has become a useful tool for communicators. Unlike the traditional channels, a comment can feel uninhibited and timely—and therefore genuine—to readers.

We’ve touched on the how editing Wikipedia pages with notable news articles can help create a digital fingerprint for B2B organizations. A lesser-known option is to take the same approach with news outlets with robust blogging platforms—like Forbes.com. Consider the weight and scope of your words if you dedicated a percentage of your blogging time to adding thoughtful perspectives to the comment sections of trending, well-trafficked articles.

Even whimsical comments can take on an extraordinary life of their own. Last year a few Internet shoppers began leaving amusing comments about a banana slicer for sale on Amazon called the Hutzler 571. The commenters sparked other sarcastic and hilarious comments. Soon, thousands of people were participating, and that $3 banana slicer was in the headlines at the Today show’s website and at Huffington Post, Ad Week and Business Insider. Some 800,000 people have gone to YouTube to watch a jittery video of the banana slicer in action. The Hutzler manufacturing company, making plastic kitchenware since 1938, is suddenly a sensation.

Sometimes oddball comments cross over to become serious news. Recently The Onion posted an inflammatory remark about Oscar nominee Quvenzhané Wallis on Twitter, prompting immediate reaction in comments sections everywhere and online and print-outlet news stories. USA Today even referenced comments on Facebook that took The Onion to task for issuing an apology.

Now comments are increasingly becoming a platform for serious thought leadership. Writers and editors at marquee publications do read the comments on their stories closely—Forbes.com editors and writers can even “call out” comments that they think their audience should know about. Being a consistent, intelligent presence among influential reporters and bloggers can improve your chances of being called upon as a source. If your comments are insightful enough, they could be turned into a significant thought-leadership opportunity.

While blog comments may not cause a huge spike in SEO, you can rest assured that they will be viewed by a large audience, says Mike Collins of SEO Site Checkup. “This is where you have a chance to shine,” wrote Collins last year. “A well thought out and valuable comment will catch readers’ eyes. It’ll also catch the eyes of the person who published the post in the first place.”

Collins also discussed how commenting sidesteps the catch-22 of needing to prove credibility but not having the platform to showcase it or enough readers to verify it. By borrowing an established blogger’s audience, readers will start to take notice if you are consistently adding value to the dialogue. Eventually, by maintaining a thoughtful and considerate presence on a prominent comments board like Slate.com or the NYTimes.com, you will begin to develop relationships with other influencers in your market.

That isn’t to say that B2B organizations should aim to be provocative simply with the hope of receiving attention elsewhere—there are certainly opportunities to add thoughtful perspective on relevant articles and blogs. Commenting should be part of a broader overall strategic communications platform with dedicated resources and ways to measure the platform’s impact in place.

If submitted tactfully on influential outlets and connected to a bigger picture campaign, attributable statements on a comments page can spark conversations with legitimate business audiences and generate inbound links and traffic to company pages and bios. While the traditional news outlets and media relations process shouldn’t be ignored, leveraging the same perspective in blog comments easily supplements and enhances any thought leadership campaign.