Whether you write a blog, have a facebook or twitter account, or allow posting to your main website, one of the biggest concerns is by opening yourself up to public comments, you risk embarassment. This fear, however, can severely hamper your ability to connect with constituents and potential constituents.
Getting your message out is great, but the real value online is having others share the message. In this way they expose their friends to your organization or candidate. For instance, if on Facebook someone comments on your page, their friends will see that and may be enticed to learn more. If comments are disabled, that opportunity will be lost.
So what is there to fear? Things can go wrong. As an example, the Republicans created a website, www.AmericaSpeaksOut.org as an open town meeting encouraging people to suggest ideas. They received many great ideas, but also ideas such as:
- “End child labor laws”
- “build a castle-style wall along the border, there is plenty of stone laying around about there”
- “employ some of those invincible black knights from Monty Python and the Holy Grail”
- “repeal all the amendments to the Constitution”
Like anything else, don’t let the small percentage of bad apples ruin what can be a great dynamic discussion amongs supporters. People love to make comments and reply to other comments. It keeps the conversation alive. If you do have people who post rediculous or even offensive things, it is easy to remove their posts. In the example of the posts above, they are well intentioned, humorous, and may even draw some attention to your site.
A great example of a public figure embracing commenters is believe it or not, Former Governor Rod Blagojevich. He and his wife have been very active on social media. On June 2nd, he posted to his Facebook Page: “Looking forward to the start of the trial tomorrow. We have the truth on our side.” There were 73 comments posted and 88 thumbs up to this post.
5 Ways to Encourage comments:
1) Make sure your Facebook Page defaults to your posts + commenters, not only your posts.
2) Tweet out comments to highlight and reward commenters.
3) Call out frequent commenters to reward their contributions.
4) Reach out to frequent commenters for feedback and make them a part of the community.
5) Blatantly ask for comments, nothing wrong with doing that at the end of a post.
How do you embrace commenters? (see what I mean?)