This is a continuation of the last blog post about blog commenting.
Well, the last time I shared what my initial feelings were about being a virtual medical assistant doing a blog commenting task, as well as what I thought about it. It was a hard task to accomplish, especially for a newbie with no concrete background in health and medicine.
It’s like I faced a horde of zombies without guns or knives, or even just any kind of sharp object. I felt lost and confused for a while, but I did it anyway. And judging by the feedback I got from my supervisor, it didn’t seem all that bad.
For the succeeding months, I think I’ve done this sort of project three or four times now. I can say, I’ve gotten the hang of it. Although it is still challenging, I now know more how to do it, only the actual comments are the really tricky part since I have to make sure they stay relevant to the topic and must sound professional.
How to go about a commenting task…
On the technical level, there are certain guidelines you need to follow when doing a commenting task for a marketing strategy. The task didn’t come with a manual, I had to learn and teach myself how to do it. I was given a Google Spreadsheet and a short list of instructions and that was that. I had to learn everything myself while doing the task.
The instructions included:
Make a comment and link tracker on another spreadsheet document. (I had to decide the details of what it contains as well.)
Make comments that sound like that of a professional or a person who knows the topic by heart on different sites suggested by the client. (This was easy – not!)
Promote the client’s product at the best opportunities. (This is probably the hardest. People in forum and blog sites can be harsh if they want to be, so you need to make sure that you don’t sound too pitchy or else you could be reported.)
To accomplish this task without a hitch like a professional medical virtual assistant, I needed some guidelines to follow to do it right or at least with as little mistake as possible. Here they are:
- How to choose a forum or blog site to comment on:
- Timeliness of websites – On the spreadsheet I was given, there were several sites with accounts already set up. The first thing I did was to monitor the site for the frequency of activity, meaning there should always be new posts and comments from other members. Does it have several posts in a week? I always checked if the site is updated before logging in and posting comments. I always made sure I chose the sites that are more updated than the rest, otherwise the effort will be a waste of time. Who is going to bother looking for posts and comments made two years ago. People always want to read the newer ones, only working their backwards when they can’t find what they’re looking for.
- Presence of experts – I also look for the presence of experts or medical professionals in these sites. Why? Their presence makes the site legit. I feel that it is convincing enough to attract even the experts. Plus they usually have this really lengthy and experience-based comment which you can read to understand better what’s going on in that particular thread before making your own. This way you wouldn’t come off as clueless or inconsiderate. The downside of this is that you need to compose your own comments in a way that the experts will not smell your marketing agenda a mile away and call you out for it. Oh, yeah! I forgot to mention that is the scary part – to be caught being a marketer in the guise of a regular member.
- Relevance of posts – Do the posts relate to my ultimate aim and the products I have to promote? Of course, I also had to make sure that there will be post where I can logically insert the products I’m trying to promote. I look around to see how sound the posts people make are as well. I have to admit, some posts are neither here nor there, or to put it mildly, they just seem lost and even silly at times. I avoid those kind of posts.
- How to do the actual commenting:
- Always be courteous. Even when others are not, I always try to be as polite as I can be. I am never rude in my comments. Instead I try to show concern. No need to be sugary sweet with the words, just be sincere. I only want to sound helpful, supportive, and sincere. No matter what my end goal is, I try to be as sincere as possible. People on health forums often need help or someone to talk to make them feel better. They don’t need to be judged or patronized. Give them a little shake if they are being illogical, but always in a manner that will not offend them. Rather, one should make them see sense. Nobody, after all, no one likes being offended. We all tend to be defensive when that happens, on the other hand, we appreciate when we are gently steered to see reason – it shows that others care.
- Make sound comments. I always read and understand the post thoroughly or enough that I can make a well-thought out observation and judgement before I make the comments. It does make the process slow, but it also makes the margin of error miniscule. I don’t make hasty comments, especially in forums where people have serious problems. I always craft my comments in a way that they will be understood and that they are helpful even in a small way. When all else fail – do research! When I can’t fully understand or still be a bit lost after reading the post, I research about it. I try to learn more about the topic at hand. That, or I just look for another one that I can digest easily. I want to sound either like a curious reader or an informed professional not a blundering idiot.
- Know the product you want to promote. I see to it that I understand the concept or the products of the client. I read the fine print on the client’s website that talks about what it is for, what kind of health conditions and diseases that particular product is related to before even trying to promote it. I also make it a point that the threads or posts I comment on are related to the product I’m trying to promote at the moment. I don’t want to screw things up by placing a product in a thread it does not belong to. It will be like putting a product on female reproductive health in a post on a self-harm community. That kind of scenario is just asking for trouble – there are members who will not let you live down that kind of mistake.
- Monitor and reply. Every once in a while I check my past comments to see if anybody replied to them. When I find any, I also respond to them even when they are slightly rude. More importantly, I take the time to thank those who were appreciative of my comment.
I really like it when the people who originally posted on the community to ask for advice make a reply to my comment. By this, I know that the effort was worth it because the comment was read. There are some, who actually seem to have abandoned their own posts, not bothering to see if other members had taken time to reply to them. On the other hand, there are some who try to respond to all those who left a comment on their post.
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