5 ways to be a valued internet contributor

Yesterday I mused on valued contributors and internet bores.

The reason for this lies in the Internet levelling the playing field and creating unrivalled opportunity for anyone to be ‘somebody’ to someone. As Seth Godin wrote recently, anyone can be famous within a specific circle and there are a number of emerging stars in many sectors and on many platforms. Warhol got it right.

So, a plausible entry level strategy to raising your profile online is to comment on key news, articles and blogs relevant to your industry, especially if you’re not able (or willing) to create your own. The objective is to position yourself within the discussion by offering ‘expert’ comment on articles seen by the sector at large.

It’s easy to find the websites, news hubs, forums and groups where your peers and potential customers are congregating to discuss pertinent industry issues. But there is so much more to it than 1/ thanking people for posts or 2/ spamming articles with links to your own site.

Here’s how I go about responding online. If you follow a similar approach that works for you,  you’ll be on the fast track to becoming a valued internet contributor.

1. Start with a positive comment about the blog post / author. Sounds obvious but who has time to say ‘thanks’, ‘great post’, ‘that has really made me think’. Actually, surprisingly few. Whether you agree with what is being contended, appreciate the time that has been invested. Some articles can take hours to pull together especially if they contain data, case study material, links and images.

2. Add value. It’s fine to disagree but outline why. Offer evidence, perspective or a link to other material. It is quite routine on high traffic sites for the comments section to be the area where the most interesting material sits. If you position the initial article as a discussion enabler, you will quickly understand why so many articles have deliberately provocative or engaging titles – they are designed to take a stance and draw you in to offer an opinion.

3. Don’t get personal. Remember what happens on the web stays on the web and lots of people can potentially see it. If you wouldn’t say if face to face, don’t say it online. Once you hit send, you lose control over your comment. If you can’t remain professional, don’t post a response.  Best to stay factual or not get involved in articles you really don’t agree with.

4. Avoid adding obvious links to your own material or promoting something you did on a similar topic. This is a soft strategy. If fellow readers like what you have to say, they will be able to click your hyperlinked name/photo identification and see what you’re all about. A great metaphor is the property for sale sign. You wouldn’t erect a for sale sign outside your neighbour’s house encouraging buyers to come and see yours instead, so similarly on blogs and websites, be respectful of the personal space you are visiting.

5. Pick the right articles to respond on. Many high traffic sites have a team of contributors providing the articles to enable them to publish several items a day. Commenting on every post will quickly identify you to everyone in the community as a crushing bore, a know-all, or worse a spammer using it solely for the SEO back link.

So the trick is to add value. It will help. Getting blackballed in your own industry is not a road you want to go down.

Images: Luca Martera and SocialMouths

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