Have you ever replied to an online comment and later realized your reply was totally off topic and misdirected? It happens all the time.
Replying to other people's comments can be tricky, and you want to make sure you are doing it properly if you use social media to promote your business.

As you know, one effective way to engage with your audience as a business owner is to comment and reply to other people's posts.
This is a great building tool to create strong relationships with existing and potential customers.

But if you are not careful, there is the possibility of misunderstandings in online communication. That's because this way of connecting lacks many of the nuances of in-person communication, and it can easily be misinterpreted by the other party, if not done just right.

In this article I will be giving you ideas and tips on three aspects of social media comment etiquette that are guaranteed to make you an effective online communicator:

  1. Be authentic
  2. Stay on topic
  3. Be positive


1. Be authentic

As business owners, our main goal in having a social media presence is to promote our business and build a relationship with our customer base. This often leads us to write comments in an "all-business" tone, at the detriment of a more personal connection with the original poster.

Social media is, first and foremost, communication between people. Don't sound too formal or use language that's not natural for you and unappealing to your audience.

You can certainly use a tone that lets your personality shine through, while at the same time sound professional and respectful of the person that posted. Focus on being genuine and sincere, don't just comment for the sake of promoting your business, but be helpful and show empathy. Most of all, be yourself.

Use their name

One way to come out natural and friendly in a comment is to address the person you're commenting on by their name or username. This shows that you took time to read their post, and creates a connection right off the bat. Good salespeople often repeat the customer's name back to them. There's something in our minds that always energizes our attention when hearing or reading our own name.

By asking a question or sharing your experience on a topic you will show interest, which will improve your connection with the other person.

Try to avoid generic comments like "Great post!", or "Thanks for sharing." Instead, add some value to the conversation by writing a thoughtful comment that furthers the discussion.

Here's an example of being authentic when replying to a negative comment about a product you may sell.

Comment: "I tried your new protein bar but it tasted terrible. I was really disappointed"

Response: "Oh, no! I'm very sorry to hear that you had a bad experience with our protein bar. In my company, we appreciate customer's feedback and take it seriously. Please, feel free to reach via direct message if you want to share more details about your experience. I'd love to hear it. Thank you again for your honest feedback."

In this example, the business owner is acknowledging the negative feedback and expresses empathy for the customer's disappointment. Offering a solution to the customer's dissatisfaction by encouraging them to contact directly the company shows willingness to listen, learn, and improve. This simple technique can turn this situation around, and help build trust and loyalty among their audience.


2. Stay on topic

Staying on topic while replying to someone's comment is important in order to keep the conversation focused and constructive. Here are some tips for staying on topic.

Are you sure you understood the comment fully? Make sure to read the comment carefully, or you may miss some subtle clue. You don't want to start typing your response and realize later you went off topic.

Even if the comment raises several points, pick the most important one and reply with that one topic in mind. This will make your response much more effective. You can always address the other topics in a separate response if needed.

Use quotes from the original comment to show you are addressing their point directly. This can also help clarify your response and make it easier to follow.

Here's an example of staying on topic:

Comment: "I was really disappointed with the shipping time for my order. It took over two weeks to arrive and I needed it for a special event."

Response: "I apologize for the delay and any inconvenience it may have caused for your special event. We understand how important it is to receive your order in a timely manner. Our team is constantly working to improve our shipping process and we appreciate your feedback. Please, feel free to reach out to us directly. We'll do everything we can to make it right. Thank you for your patience and understanding".

In this example, the business owner's response focuses on the inconvenience created by the delayed shipping for the special event, acknowledges the customer's frustration, expresses empathy, and offers a solution.

Stay on topic, and address the customer's specific issue, and you are sure to create a positive relationship with your customers.


3. Be positive

When replying to someone's comment on social media it's essential to be positive and maintain a healthy and constructive conversation. But, how can you keep positive while commenting online?

Start by expressing gratitude for their input. By thanking the person for their comment you tell them that their opinion matters to you.

Next, focus on the positive aspects of their comment. If they provide criticism, thank them for their feedback. If they are more positive, express your agreement and enthusiasm.

Remember to always be respectful and courteous, even if you disagree with their opinion. Using confrontational language will only escalate the conversation to a place you don't want it to go.
If a concern was raised, offer a solution, or let them know what actions you are going to take to address the issue.

Being positive helps build trust and fosters meaningful conversations on the social channel.

Here's an example of a positive reply to a comment that praises your services.

Comment: "Wow, I am impressed with the customer service at XYZ. Went above and beyond to help me."

Response: "Thank you so much for your kind words! I am thrilled to hear that you had a positive experience with our customer service team. We always strive to provide the best service possible and we are glad to hear that we exceeded your expectations. If you need anything else in the future, please don't hesitate to reach out. Thank you again!"

In this example, the business owner expresses gratitude for the positive feedback and thanks the customer for taking the time to share their experience. By showing appreciation for the customer's positive experience, the business owner is building a great relationship and reinforces the positive aspects of the comment, which will be read and appreciated by other viewers.

So far we have seen how to write good replies to other people's comments about our business online.
But our ultimate goal is to make sales after all. Why can't we just take the opportunity and write a small commercial about how good our products are?

Don't promote too heavily

Here's a few reasons why it's better not to promote our services too heavily on social media.

  1. Too much promotion can quickly be seen as spammy, become annoying, and create a negative perception of your brand. This may discourage potential customers from engaging with your content again. They will simply gloss over your posts and ignore them, like they ignore most online advertising.

  2. Social media conversations are just that, conversations about a specific topic. If you start promoting your products too much, the conversation is derailed, and this creates a negative experience for other users, therefore reducing the effectiveness of your overall social media strategy.

  3. It may violate community guidelines. Many social media platforms have guidelines that prohibit self-promotion. Violating these guidelines may result in your account being suspended or worse.

  4. Social media is all about engaging with your audience and building relationships. By focusing too much on promoting your business you may miss out on the opportunity to connect with others.

Yes, it's important to promote your business on social media, but it's also important to avoid doing it too heavily in post comments. Add value, focus on building a long term relationship, and keep a positive frame of mind in your comments.

In conclusion

We have seen three aspects of social media commenting in the context of business promotion online:

  1. Be authentic and focus on communicating as a regular human being, using natural language, as opposed to being too business focused. Using their name, asking questions, and avoiding generic comments helps you being authentic.
  2. Stay on topic by re-reading the original post if necessary and making sure you understand it fully before writing a reply, so you avoid misunderstanding. Don't pack your reply with too many topics, but use only one, and be concise.
  3. Be positive by expressing gratitude for your customers' input and avoid even slightly confrontational language that may come out as disrespectful.

Most of all, even if your ultimate goal is to promote your business, don't promote it too heavily or too often. You may come out as spammy and derail the conversation or violate community guidelines on self-promotion.

With all your social media comments and replies, try to add value first, and focus on building a long term, positive relationship with your audience.


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