If you’ve spent much time on the internet, you’ve no doubt heard the oft-repeated advice, “Never read the comments!” There’s a reason this has become such a pervasive idea. For a normal person browsing the internet, avoiding the comments is a brilliant way to avoid shocking assaults against the English language, hideous vitriol, spam ads, and all of the baser aspects of human nature. For a business owner, though, not reading the comments would be a cataclysmic mistake.
The anonymity promised by the internet makes it possible for business owners to gather unvarnished feedback that it’s nearly impossible to get in person. That’s why the level of discourse is so low in so many comment sections. It might make for unpleasant reading if you’re just trying to watch YouTube videos, but when it’s your business, it serves you well to pay attention.
Give Your Customers a Platform to Speak
Not only should you read any and all comments about your business, you should set up your entire online presence to generate as much feedback as possible. Obviously that means having a contact form, but a savvy entrepreneur will take it much further. Using your website to collect e-mail addresses gives you an easy way to generate honest feedback from existing customers. You can entice them by offering giveaway contests, coupons, or e-mail only specials. It helps you solicit input from your customers while driving business to your location at the same time. Another extremely smart way to create conversation is to post specials or coupons on your website’s blog and then enable the comments. Sure, you might get a few spam ads, but they’re easy to weed out and it’s a small price to pay for the invaluable information you can get.
If it’s important to listen to comments on your website, it’s absolutely essential on social media. Way too many business owners think of social media as just another advertising platform. To them, it’s a place to post pictures and run advertisements and not much else. In order to get the most out of social media, though, it has to be a two-way street. You can’t just fire off a post, wait a couple of days, and then fire off another. Whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, the real strength of social media is the ability to interact directly with customers. That means reading what they have to say and, even more importantly, responding promptly.
Don’t Just Read, Reply
Simply reading the responses your posts get has an incredible number of benefits. It lets you know which posts your customers do and don’t like, which helps you craft a more effective social media strategy. It helps to identify any potential problems your customers may have and allows you to address them instantly. Listening to your customers makes it much easier to deliver exactly what they’re looking for.
By replying to the comments, you can create an authentic connection with your customers. If something goes wrong, dealing directly with someone on social media can help retain them as a customer. Getting involved in conversations is a great way to create deep brand recognition and trust. It’s also a great way to generate word of mouth interest and reach your followers’ friends with no additional budgeting required.
In short, if you’re a business owner, always read the comments. Go out of your way to generate as much input as you can and read all of it. Sure, you might have to wade through an occasional tornado of misspellings and a few pitches to make $20,000 working from home, but the benefits are well worth the cost. Don’t worry, though, you can still avoid the comments section on those random YouTube videos. No one should have to deal with that.