Scroll to the bottom of an online article, blog post or video and you’ll often find a second article, not one written by the author, but a rolling commentary of complaints, comments and conversation between readers. The content is usually juicer than the story and the viewpoints and opinions are sure to raise your blood pressure a point or two.
About once a week, I wade into the comments section of an article. I try to pick an article I do not agree with or one that contains either misleading or all together incorrect information. I select a commenter that seems at least a bit rational and offer up a bit of counter evidence and advice. It’s an exercise in keeping your calm and offering fact-based, accurate information on farming practices and agriculture products.
As an agriculture advocate, I am constantly urged to interact with the consumers, tell my side of the story and set the record straight when I come across inaccurate information. Emailing the author of an article is one way to go about it but interacting with readers in the comment section can often be a very trying but effective effort.
With practice, I have honed my commenting and online interaction skills and just today was told by a fellow commenter that he appreciated my cool, levelheaded comments and counter-comments.
Just like many people outside the social media world, many online commenters have no intentions of listening to logic or changing their way of thinking. But, it doesn’t hurt to put the information out there, let people know you are a source for agriculture information and begin what could be a very valuable conversation with another person perusing the comments section.
So, how do you go about commenting on a story? Here the tips and tricks I’ve learned from many successful – and a few failed – attempts at making friends in the comment section.
(1) Comment using your Twitter or blog handle. Select a name that you commonly use online so people can follow you long after the article has been taken down. I often log in and comment using my Twitter handle. If they want to know more, they know where to find me.
(2) Tackle one issue at a time. There will often be several different commenters discussing several different issues, don’t try to take them all one at one. Select one piece of incorrect information and do your best to correct that person and the facts. Don’t attempt to engage every commenter on the page or you’ll run yourself ragged.
(3) Remain cool, calm and collected. The last thing you want to do is lose your cool while trying to establish yourself as an expert in your field. If the other person wants to call you names and belittle your industry, let them. But please don’t return the favor.
(4) Make sure you are presenting facts – and not your opinion. Many people confusing fact for opinion. Stick to the facts and leave your thoughts out of it.
(5) Learn when to end. There are people that live on the Internet. They spend their days commenting on articles and blogs and engaging them means you could end up spending your entire day defending your post. Know when to excuse yourself from the conversation and simply walk away.
Becoming a frequent commenter is a great way to engage people you would not normally interact with and also establish yourself as an agriculture advocate. Best of luck and I’ll see you in the comment section!