Blog comments go in and out of fashion and in many respects, it’s considered only important for bloggers. However, it’s just as important for small business websites who publish. That’s you, right?
Postmatic – We’re about conversations reimagined.
By now you know we’re all about blog comments and make them a true part of the blogging/content experience as opposed to just an afterthought. This isn’t just for bloggers or affiliate marketers. It’s also a great business tool.
From our flagship plugin Postmatic, through to Epoch and Elevated Comments, as well as Crowd Control and Postmatic Social Commenting (and now a little thing we like to call Replyable), our goal has always been simple: reinvent engagement and make commenting fun again, for content creator and commenter alike.
We’d like to think we’re well on our way to doing that if the feedback and praise from our users are anything to go by.
But as much as we’re happy to see how well our reinvention of commenting has been received, there’s much more to Postmatic than “simple blog comments.”
What’s our Why?
It’s a little-known story that Postmatic came about in the same way most services and plugins do — there was a problem that needed a solution. Postmatic is that solution.
Back in 2013 we were working with Global Citizen Year – a program for high school grads to spend a year overseas doing aid work before college. The destinations were remote and internet connectivity scarce.
As a way to share how the students were doing, and the work they were carrying out, each student was required to blog at least weekly about the experiences they were having.
The problem was, not all the parents (or grandparents) back home understood how RSS worked. There was no easy way to receive much anticipated updates.
We came up with a solution by asking – what if email could be used to not only publish posts and send the updates but allow parents, grandparents, and students alike to comment back and forth on the post via email?
After all, pretty much everyone with even rudimentary connectivity knows how to work email – it’s why it’s seen so many attempts to pronounce it dead year after year.
So we came up with some ideas, put together a proof of concept, and set it to work. Soon, posts and comments were flying around left, right and center. Not only did this let the students share their endeavors with the world, it gave the parents and other family members back home peace of mind, as their child was now only an email away.
From that small moment of need and experimentation, the idea of Postmatic as a wider service was born.
Your customers want to participate, too.
Small business owners have websites and often make the mistake of creating brochure sites they never change. For findability (SEO), you need to publish regularly. This is done on the blog.
Engaging with your customers, updating them on your new offerings, and answering their questions and concerns is an important part of any small business marketing. Sure, you can post to Facebook. But what if it shuts down? Though unlikely, the more likely move is that your customers tire of Facebook’s ongoing privacy issues.
Owning your content and articles on your WordPress site and engaging with your customers in a way that is easy for them (email) and you is a win-win.
Create Your Own Community
One of the reasons Facebook continues to remain valuable, is because of their universal user experience and through the way it encourages private groups. Private or closed groups allow communities to thrive and gives a small business even more opportunities for engagement.
Whether users need a safe space to talk about private or sensitive matters or they want a haven from political posts, Facebook groups are essentially micro-networks within the bigger social network.
The problem is, users are signing away so many layers of privacy and data collection just by having a Facebook account. And let’s not be naive in thinking their algorithms aren’t continuing to build your personal graph in the confines of a private group.
This is where Postmatic comes into play.
By using the password-protected feature of the Private setting for a WordPress post, you can publish content that only those you invite will be able to see.
Now, instead of the post being public – and, by association, all the comments being public, too – the content is only visible to your invited guests. This goes for the comments too.
It’s a simple yet hugely effective way of creating your own mini-network of like-minded people around pretty much anything you wish to share:
- Early, exclusive access for beta users of a new web product, where the comments are the ongoing feedback hub
- An exclusive video performance of your indie band’s latest song, with comments being used to pick a CD cover, and plan special intimate gigs in the hometown of these “super fans”
- A political discussion board where commenters adhere to a strict policy of open but fair dialogue
- A draft post of a sensitive topic, where invited commenters can discuss where the topic may be encouraging the very thing it’s trying to counter.
These are just some ideas on how you can create a mini-network of commenters, creators, and everyone in-between, and truly foster open dialogue in an environment and communication method that everyone knows well.
All without the privacy concerns of Facebook groups.
Comments are just the beginning
As you can see, these are just two simple examples of where we go a little bit beyond simple comments on a blog, and actually create experiences around a multitude of uses.
But we’re not stopping there.
We’re always looking at ways to continue to push the boundaries of what we think blogs, comments, and engagement looks like, especially in political and societal climates where free and open speech is challenged.
We’ve been noodling away on an idea around this for a while, and we’re almost ready to share.
For anyone that believes like we do that comments are just the start of a two-way discussion and more, we think you’ll particularly like this “new use.”
But that’s for the future.
For now, we’re here simply to make your website and its blog the true engagement platform it deserves to be. If you haven’t taken a look at how we do that yet, maybe now’s the time.
Let’s get the conversation going.
Major contribution of this piece by Danny Brown. Many thanks.