This is a great reminder that blog posts get seen by the whole world. It’s easy to forget that when we’re blogging in our safe communities. Let me share a story that may help you edit a little more, or less, given the topic…
Shakirah Dawud is one of the most fantastic writers I know, and her blog at Deliberate Ink covers a bunch on writing, words, copywriting, and other topics. She asked me to guest post on a topic I couldn’t address, and it took me weeks to stretch my thinking to come up with a topic relevant to her audience, her blog’s theme, and something I thought I could speak to.
The post I wrote was along the lines of whether marketing can write for PR. It’s not something I ever think about, but I stuck my neck out to write in Shakirah’s safe community and promoted it within my network.
The post was well received with in-depth discussion in the comments, lots of questions, lots of friendly debate, and more RTs than I’ll ever see at my house. (Very cool.)
Then, an editorial assistant from Ragan.com sent an email at the end of the day asking to re-publish my post. Ragan Communications is a national company delivering PR, marketing, writing and other content, products, workshops, training courses, etc. to our industry. I gave my approval, and the post went live at 5 p.m. last week.
The next morning, the first two comments were negative from anonymous folks, called trolls, who are keen on negating most of what they read but never add their name to their statements. That didn’t feel good, but I thanked each for their heartfelt negativity and said something like “all comments welcome.”
The next eight or so comments were more in-depth; some negated the writing, the concept, the “blanket statement” and even argued, in not so many words, I was full of it. A professor of public relations made some decent remark in a neutral way. I took my time responding to each person and thanked them for their comments. All the while, I was hoping for no more responses.
That community on Ragan.com had no idea who I was, had never seen me, didn’t know my qualifications, had never seen my blog, etc., etc. It was really easy for them to negate me, rag on me, call me stupid, or whatever, because they didn’t know me.
Think about that…when you write a blog, people in your community begin to get to know you, your traits, quirks, personality, tonality, and they form opinions. They determine whether to come back and keep reading or whether you truly aren’t the flavor of the month. When a post is published as a one-off in a community accustomed to who knows what and there’s been no prior engagement, the opportunity is ripe for the bombs to fly. Not saying I got bombed over there at all, but I can say it felt uncomfortable, for sure.
What I learned from this experience:
>>I am more grateful for YOU, this community we’ve developed. When people disagree, it’s obvious, yet daggers aren’t sharp and pointed.
>>When you launch a blog, there’s safety in obscurity. Don’t hope for stardom before you’re ready; in fact, I’d like to hide under my rock a bit longer (not that this single blog post is going to change my life).
>>The tonality and ‘raderie are what make blogging fun for me. Upon reading those comments from complete strangers, I was cringing, although no one really fired any bullets. It was just uncomfortable, and I wasn’t used to it!
>>The content we write as bloggers can go anywhere — on portals, on other blogs, on ‘zines, be fodder for reporters/media, employers, and more. This story is a reminder that anonymous eyes read our material.
>>I’ve lurked on a few occasions when a guest blogger writes malarkey on a national business blog, like Forbes or Fortune. I watched as she/writer was taken to task so strongly that I felt badly although I agreed with the comments. The funny thing was the writer was nowhere to be found…she never responded to anyone’s comments.
If you’re going to take a position in your writing which could be construed as other than mainstream, stand up for your beliefs. It’s more damaging to let commenters control the message than it is to be front and center engaging people in comments as you protect your brand.