The Mila Araujo (@Milaspage) School of Commenting

Confession: I’m an awkward commenter, and struggle with how to best deliver response without becoming overbearing. So I always perk my ears up when I run into a comment marketer who is well liked by their peers, and glean any best practices I can.

I met Montreal’s Mila Araujo at the TribeUp in NYC and then again at PodCamp East. She is known in her community as someone who delivers extremely rich and deep comments, and she also writes a damn good blog on social. So I decided to ask her a few questions.

BTW, I dubbed her thoughts a school. I meant this in a respectful way to others who have different methods of commenting. There’s more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. On that note, here are Mila’s thoughts on commenting!

GL: You are known for thoughtful comments, it’s a core of your marketing ethos. Can explain to people why thoughtful comments matter to you?

MA: People take their time and effort to put their thoughts into a blog post/article. Not only have they taken the time to write but they share on a public forum for everyone to have access.

I have a tremendous amount of respect for this, I feel that if someone has gone through all this the very least we can do is give our thanks by means of thoughtful feedback, or commentary. This is someones art, the art of writing – it deserves thoughtful response and respect in thanks.

GL: What makes a good blog comment in your opinion?

MA: I think that good blog comments are comments that either add a new perspective, elaborate on thoughts contained in the post, or bring up new ideas, new questions or even points that may have been missed. The best thing about our modern use of internet “writing” is that ability to allow readers to participate.

This drives the potential of new ideas, collaborations and discussion. In essence, if the comment can bring a new dimension to the post, it makes it just as interesting to the readers to continue reading. It’s not just about agreement, it can include debate. Bottom line: If it adds value, that’s a good comment.

GL: What about short comments? Are they good, too?

MA: I have a great deal of respect for people who have the gift of being concise. A short comment that respects the concepts of a good comment is golden.

It’s not about the length of the comment, it’s about the value it adds to the conversation, and the feedback to the author. If it brings value, it is well worth it. Long or short – it’s about the contribution & value.

GL: I recently had a discussion with the Livefyre team, and argued that a Tweet is not a comment. We disagreed. What do you think?

MA: That’s a great question. I have looked at many of the “tweets” being integrated into the “comments” section via Livefyre.

At first I thought it was a great concept, but again, we come back to value: how much are the tweets really saying about the post? I feel that tweets are acknowledgements, conversation “sparks”, or promotion. Very rarely can a comment truly be played out in a tweet.

Most people are not using tweets as comment tools, therefore to count them as comments does not make sense to me. We have to go with how people are actually using the medium right now, tweeting is not being used as commenting, therefore they don’t equal a comment simply because they are being displayed.

What does provide value in Livefyre’s concept is the perceived “support” people may take from seeing a great deal of tweets on an article, however, the value to the conversation and subject is not comparable to a comment.

GL: What are the biggest faux pas you see with commenting today?

MA: The biggest faux pas:

I think a lot of people comment just to comment. I am not sure this drives conversation the right way, nor does it really add value. If you have nothing to add, I would recommend using the like button.

It is okay not to comment, forced comments come off unnatural. If you are stretching to respond, just walk away. You can always come back later if you really come up with something to say.

People commenting just to create back links or promote themselves without really respecting the depth of the writing they are commenting on – it’s a big faux pas. Not only because it’s rather self servant, but also because what ends up happening is the quality of the conversation goes downhill, once you’ve hit one or two totally irrelevant comments, as a reader you are likely to just skip the comments section all together, and that’s a shame because there can be some really great comments out there!

Quality of the comments revolving around unrelated content, and the concept of the post is then lost in the comments. Some might argue it’s the beauty of social media, but frankly, conversation totally unrelated to the post within the post’s comments section just seems out of place (and again self serving).

When I am reading comments, it is because I am interested in the opinions and views of readers on the subject matter. That’s what brings the deeper experience for the reader and author.

Personal dialogue that goes too far off base just dilutes things and lowers quality. Participating in this kind of “comment/blog takeover” is really inappropriate. You want to support the writer and the dialogue not take over and run with it for your own amusement.

***The exception, if the writer of the post just writes for their own little clique of friends, then go ahead – but keep in mind this kind of commenting alienates everyone else, lowers respectability of the blog and can make “outsiders” feel unwelcomed. Isn’t the idea of commenting to welcome new ideas, fresh minds, etc?

This last point can actually now happen more readily with Livefyres new integration – as a side note – another reason tweets aren’t really comments.

The best way I can illustrate is as if a speaker is doing a presentation, and the crowd in the Q&A gets off track and starts talking about the best restaurant in town. It might end up being a great conversation with some value about good food, but where’s the respect for the topic?

The challenge: Authors/bloggers have to be able to jump in and “moderate” the comments in such a way to coral the thoughts back in the right direction, or acknowledge the obvious need for a new topic and respond with a new post! It’s pretty interesting actually.

It’s your turn. What would you add about commenting?