Blogs are meant to open the doors to communication among you, your clients and your potential clients. They help your website remain relevant, attract new visitors and make you more accessible. And nothing creates accessibility and communication like blog comments.
But many agents and advisors are hesitant to allow comments on their posts because they run the risk of having unsubstantiated negative feedback posted—which could definitely turn into a PR nightmare. The negative comment might not even be about your agency but about an insurer that you work with or an investment you recommend.
There are two ways that you can deal with this possibility. You can disallow comments altogether or you can moderate your comments.
The Value of Moderated Comments
Before you stop reading and run to shut off your blog comments, let’s explore some of the benefits of allowing commenters on a moderated basis.
- A blog with conversation creates an entirely new level of value as it allows a space for someone to feel comfortable asking questions and giving feedback.
- Comments help you measure whether you are on the right or wrong track with the topics you’ve chosen to discuss.
- Allowing comments creates a transparency that potential and existing clients will appreciate.
- When a potential or existing client leaves a negative comment, it can make you aware of a solvable problem you previously didn’t know existed.
Handling Comments Effectively
Now, before you run and turn your blog comment options back on, let’s talk about the best ways to allow and moderate your comments without making yourself look like Big Brother:
- Have a posted comment policy. On a professional blog, there is no room for explicit language, personal attacks, gross generalizations and other forms of inappropriate communication. Create a page on your site that clearly outlines what is and is not acceptable and let commenters know what the consequences are if they violate this policy.
- Moderate all comments. Instead of allowing comments to be posted if the commenter has a previously approved comment, restrict your site so that all comments must be approved before posting. This may create a lag time in the conversation, but it will also prevent any comments in violation of policy from posting.
- Balance being forthright with being careful. If someone leaves a comment with a complaint that does not violate your comment policy, deleting it and pretending it never happened is not a good idea. That person may have access to Twitter, Facebook and forums and may easily spread the word of the deleted comment. Instead, consider allowing the comment and responding to it immediately. Your response is going to vary based on the situation and potential compliance concerns. Some general complaints may be easily answered in a reply underneath the original comment. For specific issues, you may be better off leaving a reply that you would like to talk to the individual via a more secure method to help them resolve the problem. In other instances, you might want to get your compliance department on the phone to find out the correct way to handle it. In an issue that you think involves compliance, you might also want to leave the comment unpublished until you get your broker/dealer or insurance company’s input.
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