The Best Response

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It’s getting harder and harder to respond back to everyone.

I often send out tweets, Blog comments or Facebook messages thanking people for leaving comments on this Blog, retweeting my tweets or linking to me (and my content) in one way, shape or form. I’m also very candid that I suck at the repartee and the back and forth online. I read each and every piece of content and I see all of the Blog comments, but I grapple with how to respond and feel silly simply saying, "thanks" to each and every comment. I’ve also Blogged about this topic quite frequently.

Comments, content and conversation is everywhere. 

While recognizing, acknowledging and accepting that this Blog would probably be that much more popular if I did engage, respond and connect to each and every comment, I’m now grappling with a world of comments that are everywhere and anywhere. This is a real-life scenario that made me realize how fragmented content has become and how challenging it will be for brands to truly stand up and be as active as possible. We used to live in a world where consumers said something, somewhere online and a brand could engage and connect and have it live there for others to see. No more. In the past few months, I’ve noticed a trend that will make it increasingly difficult for a brand to be successful in reacting and responding to a consumer. Through the power of notifications, I’ve seen multiple instances where one individual saw a Blog post of mine and then…

  • Posted a comment on my Blog.
  • Tweeted about the Blog post.
  • Posted about it to their LinkedIn profile.
  • Posted about it to their Facebook page.
  • Posted about it to Google+.

That’s five different and diverse spaces from one person for one piece of content.

Flattering? Yes! Thankful? Of course! Blown away by their interest in my content? You know it! But how does one respond? Do you thank them everywhere? It seems a little "stalky", no? Especially if you’re a brand. Respond in only one place? In that case, do I do it on my own Blog versus their own spaces? It seems a little narcissistic to only respond in my spaces (instead of theirs). Now, the biggest challenge/problem: what if the majority of this person’s interactions happen on Google+ and I don’t respond or comment there? Isn’t that a cardinal Social Media sin to not have any acknowledgement?

If every person creates five times the amount of content, how (and where) does a brand respond?

It’s going to get worse and more complex. More and more places to publish in text, images, audio and video. We can do it in real-time. We can do it from our mobile devices and publish it across multiple platforms. When it first came to content we talked about "filter failure"… we’re heading into a world of "response failure." It will be challenging for brands to not only have positive outcomes with these types of scenarios, but then to benefit from all of the virtual foot traffic that comes from the other people traipsing in and around these comments and posts (so if the brand doesn’t respond in all spaces, there could be both a negative perception by people like you and I along with not getting any sort of search benefit).

It turns out that there may not be any kind of best response if this type of multi-platform commenting becomes the norm.


  1. If commenters determine that by posting reflection on Mitch Joel content on 5 different mediums they increase their chances of being acknowledged by you some/many will do so. To discourage this you would have to keep track of commenters across those mediums and play fair dishing responses out. Sounds like even more work (sounds like parenting in multi child families!).

  2. Mitch,
    I’m one of those people who may find your content solid enough and relative enough to post it to several different social networking channels. I don’t expect any recognition from you for one of those, let alone several. Is it nice to get a nod or an acknowledgment? Sure. But I’m sharing the content because I think it’s worth sharing, not because I’m seeking your attention. Anyone who is upset about not getting a thank you from you is obviously not sharing for the right reasons.
    As for corporate brands trying to keep up, I agree it’s going to become more difficult, but as long as they are engaging with a person somewhere, I don’t believe they need to engage with that person everywhere. If people take offense that a brand seems to ignore someone in one social networking stream, they need to relax. How do they know there isn’t a full-blown conversation going on somewhere else and they just weren’t invited?
    ~ Ari (@aribadler)

  3. I am a small fry. I am happy to get comments, let alone have anyone share my stuff. I thank people as soon as I become aware of it, and in those instances where they shared my content on more than one channel, I feel that saying “thank you” once is really sufficient.
    I am not famous, but I do reply to all of my comments on my blog and this is why – for me, I love interacting with whoever the blogger is. I met and became close friends with wonderful people like Danny Brown and Gini Dietrich because they took the time to answer my comments. Even when they disagreed, they would ask me a question and ask me why I felt the way I did. What did that do? It created a sense of loyalty for me.
    Now that I have my own blog, I make it my business to reply to everyone. I am thrilled that I have people reading me, so I guess that to me replying is how I express that gratitude.
    Everyone is different though, and maybe some folks don’t feel that way. That is fine too.

  4. Mitch, I am so with you on the challenge in keeping up with comments in so many places. I feel the need to put the content out in different places so that people can consume it in their preferred venue, but then as you point out, you are challenged to respond in all those places.
    There is a real business opportunity here for one of the share-anywhere tools to provide the reverse functionality so that the comments from items shared anywhere, get consolidated back to the author for response. And if that already exists, I’d love for you or a reader to comment back. Thanks for your observations.
    Dan Kraus

  5. Mitch,
    Thanks for this clear post about a very real issue.
    When traffic starts to build up, should one strive to answer every comment or only extract the gist of what is being said overall and answer in another blog post? I would definitely balance for the latter solution. And you’ll create amazing content if you can share with the community what you observe in terms of reactions, maybe debates, and how that participates to build knowledge. And ultimately, engagement.
    I don’t believe that you need necessarily to engage with each and everyone to be able to engage with a community.
    Thanks for launching the debate!
    I look forward to your response to that one ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Mitch:
    I think that when people post everywhere, they are pointing to your site, so a response there is best. It’s funny how, as things get more widespread and the opportunities to post content grow, the imporatce of your “home base” (blog, site, etc) becomes more important than ever. That one place where people know they will hear from you.

  7. There was a period of time in the past two years when you decided you going to respond back to comments on your blog regularly (I can’t remember when exactly). That encouraged me to leave comments. Not to get anyone’s attention but to continue the conversation and offer feedback. *While I’m not giving credit to all the comments you’ve responded to before and after, this week in particular got me engaged.
    Out of habit I think, I tend to comment less when there’s little chance of discussion.
    That doesn’t lead me to share any less though.
    Writing blog posts that no one comments on sometimes feels like no one is listening. Feels kind of similar leaving a comment and no one comments back. Agreeing with Ari, I would never get upset if I don’t get a thank you. And like Nancy mentioned, there is definitely a sense of loyalty building with comment discussions. Although great content builds loyalty too. And with that…
    I often share your blog and podcast offline. Chalk that up for a 6th space! Just this week I referred a friend to the OWS Media Hacks…He listened to it three times. It’s probably a little challenging to respond to conversations that never get heard though…
    We still need to work on humanizing companies. This I think would help minimize the negative perception created by lack of feedback or gratitude. The more that people recognize that companies have real people behind the avatar, they would hopefully recognize that the volume of comments/tweets/status updates etc. is just too much to keep up with. Is that expecting too much? Is the answer more so in managing expectations rather than keeping up with volume?

  8. I don’t really expect thank yous either. In fact, I find them awkward and sort of contrived unless there is a conversation after that. Also, if I am managing five social sites and you respond to one or none I’m good. I re post or re tweet because it is interesting and educating myself and my followers.
    thank you

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