Some people are introverted, shy, quiet types who like to observe rather than participate in conversation, so they devour their social media feeds with gusto, but never engage or comment. Not even on posts or comment-threads they find interesting! And that’s totally cool… if you have no interest in building up a following. But if you’re on LinkedIn because you understand the platform’s potential to help you build a personal brand or promote your business, the ‘timid wallflower’ approach won’t get you far. The smarter approach, is to ditch your stealthy silence and become a captivating commenter instead.
Most LinkedIn ‘Growth Gurus’ will tell you that you need to publish great quality content regularly to earn a reputation as someone who really knows their stuff, and who’s ‘worth’ following because their musings are interesting and valuable.
The problem is that many people — even content creators who write for a living — simply don’t have the time to plan, write and post brilliant posts every day.
But happily, there’s still a way to post regularly and show off your smarts even if you’re brimming with opinions but short on time — and that’s commenting on other people’s posts.
That’s right! On any given day, there are loads of posts published on a variety of topics featuring great content or conversation-starting observations. All you need to do is find one (or a few, there’s no daily limit for commenting on LinkedIn) that’s interesting, inspiring, useful or thought-provoking, et voilà! You’ve got the perfect jumping-off point to add your own insight and draw attention to it not only among your own network of contacts and followers, but also among those who follow the original author of the post as well.
In fact, I have observed that on some weeks when I published a post, I actually gained fewer followers than on weeks where I didn’t publish my own post, but commented liberally on others. It’s a growth-hack I discovered by accident, and I’ve adopted the “captivating commenter” mantra ever since.
Here are some great benefits of commenting on other people’s posts:
1. It’s a GREAT way to grow your following. Whether you leave a short comment or use up the entire 1,250-character limit, if you leave a comment that’s thoughtful and interesting, people who read it will be more inclined to follow you so they can read more of your thoughtful and interesting posts and remarks in future.
2. It’s a great way to connect and learn from others in your industry. The more you connect with fellow industry colleagues and engage with their content, the more it will feel like you’re part of a professional community that you don’t only contribute to, but can also draw inspiration from. Many of the posts I have published (on other platforms as well) were inspired by posts and comments I read on LinkedIn.
3. It’s a great way to build awareness and trust by potential clients and collaborators. The more thoughtfully you comment on other people’s posts without always pushing your own agenda (like promoting yourself or your business), the more your contacts and followers will regard you as a thought-leader in your field.
4. It could lead to actual business opportunities. Even when you comment but don’t promote yourself, people might be so impressed with what you say, they will check you out anyway (your LinkedIn profile, your company page, your website, etc.) which could lead to all sorts of business opportunities, even from lurkers who are impressed but choose not to engage and comment themselves.
5. If you’re really inspired, a comment on someone else’s post can turn into a brand-new piece of content — for yourself! When you write a particularly long comment that approaches the 1,250-character limit, LinkedIn prompts you to consider sharing your comment as an actual post of your own, which means that the ‘thought’ you decided to share spontaneously on something that popped up in your feed can suddenly become a new piece of content you can promote to your own network! Some might call this opportunistic, because you’re ‘taking advantage’ of someone else’s original post. And you know what? It kind of is! But in commenting, or sharing your comment as a post (which also includes the original post you’re commenting on) you’re not only drawing attention to yourself, but also to the original poster, so it’s a symbiotic promotional relationship that’s a win-win for both of you.
Here are a few best-practices to keep in mind when commenting on LinkedIn:
1. Don’t comment just for the sake of commenting. Instead, focus on topics you can speak about knowledgably. First of all, don’t feel like you need to comment on absolutely everything. That would be overkill (plus it’s nutty). Also, remember that anything you comment on is visible to anyone who looks up your LinkedIn ‘Activity’ log, so choose the posts you comment on wisely. Finally, if you ARE going to comment, then comment with purpose: Either praise the post as a way of applauding its author, or add your own insight to provide some additional food for thought (sometimes politely presenting an alternative view is great for generating discussion), or ask a question to engage the author or other readers in further conversation.
2. Write something that’s genuinely brilliant or enlightening to maximize engagement potential and boost your comment’s rank in the post’s comment thread. The more brilliant your comment, the higher the odds that other people will react to it by either “liking” it or adding their own comment in response to yours. And the more people engage with your comment, the higher it appears in the comment thread. That’s important, because when people decide to read comments on a particular post, there’s inevitably a limit to how far down they’ll scroll, so the higher your comment ranks in the thread, the better it is for your visibility and exposure. If you comment on a post that’s already received more than, say, 50 other comments, and the comment you’re planning to write isn’t particularly interesting or useful, it will remain tucked away somewhere in the comment-thread abyss and most likely never be seen (except by folks with LOADS of time on their hands who read comments all day long), so it’s kind of pointless to write it in the first place.
CAVEAT: Some people comment no matter how many other comments a post has already received just because they feel like it, and not because they hope to gain exposure for themselves. I’m always baffled by posts that have accumulated hundreds of comments, because if you consider how few people would ever have the time to scroll through (let alone read) hundreds of comments, it’s amazing to me that the 327th commenter — who surely noted that the post already had 326 comments — still though it would be a good idea to add yet another one. But you know… each to their own.
3. Qualify your own experience to add credibility and relevance to your comment. Depending on the circumstances, when offering criticism or help, it might be prudent to qualify your expertise so that it’s deemed relevant. For example, if you’re commenting on a post about web design, you could preface your comment with “As someone who has worked with web designers on several website builds, I…” etc. If the headline below your name says you’re in the automotive industry and you’re suddenly giving web design advice, people are more likely to take your comment seriously if they understand your connection to the subject matter.
4. Don’t be too promotional or salesy. No one likes an opportunistic show off. People tend to frown on comments that are clearly self-serving and have little relevance to the post they’re commenting on, so if your comments are blatantly promotional, they won’t get you many fans. That said, sometimes if might be relevant to reference your business to reinforce a genuine comment. For example, if you’re commenting on a post about the value of SEO, you can write whatever you want to say, and then refer to an example of how your business was able to use SEO to boost website ranking and pageviews for your clients. By using a real-life example that’s actually useful to readers, it will indirectly serve to promote your business as well. Just be sure to navigate this hack with extra care and tact.
5. Add a relevant hashtag to make your comment searchable. Many people don’t realize that by adding hashtags in their comments, it makes the comments searchable on LinkedIn. Nifty, huh? Just make sure you use hashtags appropriately. If you’re writing a three-paragraph, thoughtful comment about a particular topic, then use them. But if you’re only writing a one-two sentence casual remark, it’s probably best to leave them off.
6. Add an image or a GIF for extra appeal and entertainment value. Okay, okay, I’m an ultra-nerd who speaks GIF, I admit it. But sometimes a funny GIF is a great way of reinforcing the point of your comment. So, if I’m writing a comment about why I think a post is awesome, I’m going to hop on to GIPHY.com, find the perfect ‘awesome’ GIF, and add it to my comment. In fact, sometimes it’s the well-chosen GIF (or image) rather than whatever you’ve written that will compel someone else to ‘like’ the comment and push it up the comment-thread ranking.
So, are you a LinkedInLurker or a Captivating Commenter? Again, if you’re happy to stay completely out of the limelight, that’s totally your prerogative. But if you’re willing to put yourself out there a little in the name of attracting some attention, building a personal brand and growing a following, consider ramping up your commenting activity. You never know what doors it might open!