Posted 10.19.2019 by Meghan Crawford

How To Boost Organic Social Media Growth with Comments [+ Examples]

Changes in algorithms are causing a decline in organic reach. Learn how to outsmart them by using comments on social media.

Engagement has become an essential factor for social media algorithms. How users comment and respond to your content influences what they see on their news feed.

These changes to the algorithm have improved the user’s experience: they now engage with content that is relevant to them, and only see posts that they care about.

Brands, however, are having a harder time adapting to these updates. Many are left in over their heads, trying to find ways to boost their organic reach.

So how can you beat the algorithms to reach your customers and promote your brand?

1. Pay.

Or…

2. Embrace the comment.

Read on to find out the top strategies for driving conversation and comments on social media.

What You’ll Learn in This Article:

Let’s dive in! 👊

How Social Media Algorithms Work in 2019

Every social network uses a different algorithm to prioritize content in your feed.

However, there are some commonalities.

Algorithms on social media seem to favor comments and back-and-forth conversation. If your post gets a lot of comments, it will get more distribution (reach). If your group gets activity, it will show up in the news feed.

Here’s how algorithms work for each major social channel:

Facebook Algorithm Signals

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg declared that Facebook would prioritize “meaningful interaction” in its news feed. What does that mean for brands? Facebook qualifies “meaningful interaction” as posts that generate conversation.

Here are the top-ranking signals that the Facebook algorithm takes into account:

  • Comments: High conversation leads to better ranking in the Facebook news feed. This is why the algorithm favors live videos – they generate six times the engagement of regular videos.
  • Comment replies: Facebook also analyzes how people are replying to comments. Posts that generate lots of replies will get consequently favored in the news feed.
  • Reactions: Users on Facebook can respond to posts through ‘reactions’, that represent various emotions – Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad, and Angry. Reactions give your post a small boost in the news feed.
  • Shares: The algorithm favors posts that either get shared publicly or privately through messenger. However, shared posts must also have engagement for the algorithm to take notice.

Instagram Algorithm Signals

Like Facebook, Instagram announced that their newsfeed would favor “the moments you care about”. The algorithm favors content that is most likely to interest the user.

Here are three major ranking signals Instagram’s algorithm looks at:

  • User relationship: Your relationship to others users influences how they see your content. Just like Facebook, the algorithm favors content that users engage with.
  • User’s past behavior: Has the user interacted with similar accounts or posts before? If yes, your post is more likely to show up in their news feed.
  • Post recency: The algorithm will favor recently published posts. Older content gets pushed down the feed (unless the relationship signal is high).

Twitter Algorithm Signals

Twitter’s algorithm spotlights the “what you missed” based on accounts that you interact with most. It also adds extra recommendations of potential interest.

Here are the top-ranking signals that determine Twitter reach:

  • Engagement: The algorithm processes user interaction based on their comments and replies.
  • User’s past behavior: Twitter analyzes tweets the user has engaged with in the past, and how often they use the platform.
  • Recency: Recent tweets get a high ranking on Twitter’s feed.
  • Tweet content: How is the tweet structured? Does it contain an image, video or GIF?

LinkedIn Algorithm Signals

LinkedIn’s mission is to connect the world’s professionals and make them more productive and successful. How? By helping members actively participate in professional conversations.

Here’s how LinkedIn evaluates content:

  • People you know: LinkedIn factors in your past interactions, current employers, and implied interests to prioritize content from people they believe you’ll know. Commented on someone’s post in the past? There’s a good chance you’ll see more of their content soon.
  • Talking about things you care about: LinkedIn rewards authentic conversation with visibility. The more users comment and reply on a post—a signal of a constructive conversation—the more likely it will be shown.

There are other signals they look at to determine the topic of content you’ll find interesting, from hashtags to groups, but a high volume of quality comments clearly stands out as a powerful attribute.

In LinkedIn’s explanation of its “community-focused feed optimization“, the authors note the algorithm’s goal to surface more discussion.

“At the heart of the feed sits a machine learning algorithm that works to identify the best conversations for our members.”

One thing all of these social algorithms have in common? Conversations are king. So think of this way:

Today, your comment is the content.

There are two methods for harnessing the power of comments to boost your social reach:

  • Proactive commenting — increase your brand’s visibility by commenting on popular accounts, trending posts, and relevant topics.
  • Reactive commenting — generate better engagement – and therefore reach – by encouraging conversation and maintaining a responsive presence on your own channels.

Let’s start with the proactive method.

1. How to use proactive comments to grow your brand aka the $1.80 Strategy

Proactive commenting is all about using OPA (Other People’s Audiences) to extend your brand’s reach.

When someone comments on your public post, a few things happen.

  1. You get a notification.
  2. Others see and react to that comment.
  3. Your post may get a lift in reach as a result.

For the commenter, there are major benefits too:

  1. The original poster learns who you are (duh), often leading to a profile view or follow.
  2. Other commenters react to your post, rewarding it with more reach, engagement and follows.
  3. Your comment helped the original post get more popular, lifting your status and the visibility of all other comments.

Social media community managers and entrepreneurs alike have leveraged ‘strategic replies’ as a growth tactic for years. With paid ads getting more effective and organic reach falling, time-intensive activities like proactive commenting often fall by the wayside.

What is the $1.80 strategy?

Coined by Gary Vaynerchuck, the $1.80 strategy is a methodical approach to growing your brand’s audience through comments and outreach. Simply stated, the method consists of dropping a comment (or your ‘two cents’) on 90 relevant social posts in your niche, as a strategy to attract quality followers by adding value 1-on-1.

Here’s how it works:

  • Find the top performing posts in your niche: Search for trending posts in your industry. Identify the most significant and pertinent hashtags your audience uses. On Instagram, it’s recommended to choose 10 topics, and scan all top 9 posts. That’s a rule of thumb so adjust your monitoring strategy accordingly.

When picking accounts to target, remember that quality and relevant engagement is important — not just follower count. This isn’t purely an influencer relations play.

  • Read and scan the posts: Make sure to analyze each post individually. What are they struggling with or asking? What made it appealing? What important information does it make you think of? How are they setting up a response for you?
  • Give your ‘two cents’: Now’s the time to provide value by dropping a relevant comment. Be genuine – nothing is more repelling than spammy, robotic responses. Your ‘two cents’ could be a story, a tip, a complement, or a joke. If it adds value to the post, advances the conversation, or helps someone, you’re doing it right.

Here’s a 35-second explainer on how it works:

Tips for proactive comments on every social media channel

Step 1. Monitor for Opportunities.

The first step is to scan opportunities for quality conversations. Keep an eye on the following:

  • Larger accounts your audience follows: Look into the personal and corporate brands your audience follows and drop a comment. Reacting to their content builds brand awareness and draws visits to your page. Start with a list of 20-50 accounts and track across channels.
  • Trending conversations and topic streams: Platforms such as Twitter have a trending topics page. Take advantage of this and keep track of which topics are trending within your niche.
  • Your customers’ accounts: The goal of the $1.80 strategy is to build a deeper connection with your audience. Browse the accounts of your clients and react to their social posts.
  • Local brands in your industry: Use geotags to find locals in your niche and react to their content.

Step 2. Respond with Engaging and Thoughtful Comments.

Funny and appealing comments garner attention and show up in your followers’ feed. Here’s how to do it for each social platform:

How to get more comment engagement on Facebook?

  • Respond in Groups: Facebook offers the possibility to create groups centered around interests or passions. Groups revolve around discussion and participation, making it a perfect space to build authority through comments. Provide value by contributing helpful comments to posts from members. Be as specific as possible. Hint: Longer-form posts are called “knowledge bombs” for a reason.
  • Respond on Pages: The key to commenting on Facebook pages is to reply fast. The quicker you respond, the more likely your comment is to get noticed. Make sure to turn on your notifications.

How to get more comment engagement on Twitter?

Channel your inner-Wendy’s. Amazing replies on popular tweets get a compelling level of reach and engagement.

  • Respond to trending hashtags: Twitter trends highlight the most popular hashtag-driven topics on the platform. Provide value by offering your knowledge and insights around niche topics. Insightful comments will boost your visibility and drive new people to your account.
  • Respond to tweets that are going to go viral: Monitor tweets that are gaining traction and drop a response. The earlier, the better.
  • Respond to tweets that are already popular: Search on Twitter for tweets that are popular in your industry. Provide value by dropping a funny reply.
  • Respond to tweets from famous accounts (that influence your audience): An effective method to test is to comment on influencer and celebrities’ tweets that you know your audience loves. SeatGeek is a company that’s grown tremendously from earned media—in large part from their influencer partnerships. Their brand (and even employee) accounts generate thousands of retweets from playful replies with YouTuber David Dobrik.

How to get more comment engagement on Instagram?

  • Respond to hashtags you follow: Follow hashtags relevant to your niche. When tagged posts show up in your feed, join the conversation by dropping a comment.
  • Reach out to users in your comments: Scroll through comments on your own posts and visit some user’s pages. Interacting with their posts increases brand recognition with that user and signals to the algorithm that you should show up in their feed more often.
  • Respond on popular accounts: Follow accounts in your niche with good engagement and get in on the action when they post. Leave smart, funny, and useful responses to stand out in the comments.

How to find more comment opportunities on LinkedIn?

  • Respond to audience builders and connections: Your feed is made up of first-degree connections and interesting posts from second and third-degree connections. Comments here matter greatly, but there’s another group that can lift you up higher: Community builders and influencers. Influential voices come in all types and sizes on LinkedIn, from mainstream business executives, to long-time LinkedIn power users. Pick 10-20 people that influence your customer base, and engage with their posts.
  • Find comment opportunities with hashtags: Follow the top 10-20 hashtags related to your industry and monitor them regularly. Comment on posts you can add perspective and value to, or that are performing well already.

Work in B2B? LinkedIn comment engagement is a great way to attract and nurture leads. Just be aware—the algorithm heavily favors individuals over brands (company pages).

This post by Red Bull’s CFO, Marc Rosenmayr, is a great example: it was posted by an individual, not the brand’s page, and made use of popular hashtags. Marc was also very engaged in the comments during the first several hours after posting. The result? Over 14k views on the video in under a day and 400 likes/reactions.

How to get more comment engagement on YouTube?

  • Search for relevant videos: Research popular YouTube channels that your audience enjoys watching.
  • Be authentic: Don’t settle for “I enjoyed watching this video”. Highlight in the comment what the video helped you learn, or what you disagree with. Humor and helpfulness goes a long way here. Pay attention to popular joke and response formats.
  • Share experience and provide value: Add additional information that could interest users in your comment. You’ll not only provide value, but establish yourself as an expert in your industry.

If you’re building an audience on Youtube, the comment section of related videos can be a powerful place to drive attention to your own channel. It is also a space for strong opinions, so choose your words wisely.

How to get better results on Quora?

      • Find the best questions in your niche: When you log into Quora, narrow down your search to topics that fit your business. Make sure that the question has a lot of upvotes – a helpful answer could result in thousands of views per day.
      • Answer with expertise: Now’s your time to shine. Respond to the question by showcasing your knowledge and expertise. Use storytelling, statistics, and visuals to make your response more engaging.
      • Analyze your Quora results: Quora comes with a free analytics tool for its users to measure views, upvotes, and shares. Check your Google Analytics referral sources report to analyze the ROI from your responses based on traffic and conversions.

2. How to Ignite Conversation On Your Own Channels

While proactive commenting is powerful, it’s important not to forget about the audience you already have. That’s where reactive commenting comes into play.

It’s crucial to be responsive within your own comment section – and not just because of the algorithms. High engagement will boost your post’s reach, but it’s also great for getting to know your audience. Cement your brand in your customer’s minds as responsive, helpful, and engaging.

So, how do you create this magical content that gets good engagement?

Use Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways inspire virality, expand your reach, and boost follower count within a short period. Here are the five best types of contests that generate the most comments and engagement:

  • Comment-to-win: Simple but effective. The winner gets selected from all the users who provided their comments, either randomly or based on creativity, humor, etc.
  • Caption contest: Let your audience flex their creative muscles by asking them to come up with a witty caption to a pic you post. Funny behind-the-scenes pictures from your company are great fodder for this kind of post.
  • Fill-in-the-blank: Users love sharing their imagination and feel compelled to comment. For example, a fill-in-the-blank could be ‘My favorite product/service from your company is ___’ or ‘The biggest struggle in my business is ___.’
  • Tag a friend: Encourage followers to tag a friend in the comments for the chance of winning a prize.
  • Trivia questions: Challenge your audience by organizing a quiz on social media. The questions can be about your company or about a topic related to your niche. Reward those who answer correctly with a small prize.

Pearson uses comment contests to boost their engagement. To win $200 worth of back-to-school supplies, users had to follow Pearson’s account, comment on what they were studying and tag one of their friends to share their prize. They could also share the post on their IG story and tag the account as a bonus.

The result? Pearson generated 1,000+ likes and 600+ comments on their post.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Pearson Students (@pearsonstudents) on

Share a Live Video

Many social platforms offer the possibility to host a live stream. Hosting live streams is cost-effective, boosts awareness, and creates real-time engagement. The best type of live video content to generate comments include:

  • Live Q&As with your audience: Live video makes it simple to connect with your audience. Brands can leverage this by organizing Q&As with their follower base. Users can comment their questions and your team will answer them in real-time. It encourages interaction and helps you get to know your audience.
  • Interview with industry leaders: Another good idea is to host live interviews on social media. Potential interviewees can include well-known authors, influencers, or thought leaders in your niche. Put out a call for questions among your audience and theirs to use during the interview.
  • Behind-the-scenes footage: Users love getting exclusive insights into what happens behind a project or product. Offer footage of what happens in your company behind-the-scenes. Not only does it show your human side, but it’s also a great way to showcase your company culture. Shooting live gives it a real, organic feel that more and more customers look for.

Ask Your Audience Questions

Igniting conversation on social media doesn’t have to be difficult – ask your audience questions! Here are the top ways that brands can do this:

  • Ask for their opinion: Inviting your audience to share their opinion tells them that you value what they think. Their opinion also provides insights into how you can improve your marketing strategy.
  • End posts with a question: Instead of asking your audience to ‘leave a comment’, end your post with a compelling question to spark their interest.
  • Get ideas to improve a product or service: Successful brands always strive to find new ways to improve their value proposition. Your audience is a great place to get feedback on your product.

For FilmScene’s fundraiser campaign, we came up with a series of questions tied to their mission that we knew audiences could answer. By asking their audience to share their story, we helped generate great comment conversations:

Create Polls

Most social platforms have a poll feature. It’s a fast, easy way for users to engage and voice their opinions. Plus, they’re tons of fun. Try some of the following poll tactics:

  • Unpopular opinion: Share a lighthearted but divisive opinion and asking your audience members to weigh in. For example, ‘Pineapple on pizza? Good or Good God, no!’
  • True or false: Ask your audience about a true or false question about your brand or a niche-relevant topic. They’ve got a 50/50 chance of getting it right, so odds are good they’ll weigh in.
  • Decision making: Use polls to guide the direction of your next campaign or product release by asking what your followers want to see next.

3 Tips for Optimizing Social Media to Drive Comments

Find Your Best Time to Post

Posting thought-provoking content on social media isn’t enough to drive comment engagement. You have to post when there are actually users around to write the responses. The best time to post on social depends on multiple factors, such as which platform you’re using, timezone, and the audience you’re targeting. To help you get started, CoSchedule aggregated the data from 25 separate studies to compile a guide for the best times to post on each social platform.

These aren’t hard and fast rules, though.

CoSchedule actually recommends conducting some research of your own. By using Google Analytics’ custom report feature to measure your traffic at specific times, you can get a pretty good idea of when your audience is active. Experiment a little with your posting schedule using that data to find your own best time.

Avoid Engagement Bait

Not only does it make you look spammy, but algorithms punish engagement bait. According to Facebook Newsroom, copy that’s used to artificially boost engagement will be detected and strictly downgraded on the platform.

As we’ve discussed, unique content is the most effective when it comes to driving comments. While it’s fine to ask your audience to share or comment on your post, the content itself needs to be genuine. If not, it won’t encourage authentic conversation.

For example, posts with only “COMMENT on this post if you love __” in their description will get disregarded by the algorithm.

In this case, adding a more compelling question such as “If you could interview anyone in your niche, who would it be?” would produce much better results.

Focus on Content That Your Audience Can Relate To

Posting genuine content that resonates with your audience is key to meaningful conversation. Create content that’s relevant, useful, or entertaining to your follower base. Follow these steps to develop authentic content:

  • Create a buyer persona to get inside their heads: Buyer personas are fictional representations of your audience, which include their demographics, job role, and pain points. They’re essential for both product development and content production.
  • Use the right tone: You must adapt your tone to the audience you’re targeting, which often changes from platform to platform. Consider your choice of words, sense of humor, and how you structure your sentences.
  • Follow storytelling best practices: Everyone loves a good story, so content following this formula is great at sparking conversation. .
  • Competitive research: Do research on your competitors and analyze what content formats and topics they use to produce the most comments.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A little over a month ago, we reached out to you, our community, and asked you to share your #boobtruth with us. We heard some incredibly powerful stories. One of those stories was shared by the founder of Inclusive Love @laurahesp. We flew her to Vancouver and spent a few days getting to know her while filming her truth. We were blown away by her vulnerability, bravery, and humour. From being outed for padding her bra by a kitten to the painful process of getting an explant, Laura brought the #boobtruth in a big way. And ICYMI, check out episodes 1-7 of the series on our IGTV.

A post shared by lululemon (@lululemon) on

Fail early, fail often, but always fail forward.

Fail, Fix, and Move Forward

Testing new tools and strategies is crucial to keeping your brand fresh and competitive on social media. Of course, trying new things is intimidating – what if you fail? Well, if you fail forward, that’s not as bad as it sounds. A key part of failing forward is knowing why you failed to begin with. Instead of making guesses at what will work, use data to make informed decisions: define which metrics you’ll be tracking before you begin the experiment, determine what worked and what didn’t, and make adjustments as needed.

Social media is constantly evolving so your strategy should be, too.

Final Thoughts

By using both proactive and reactive commenting, you can define a strategy that will encourage conversation, drive comments, and boost your engagement on social media.
Let’s summarize what we learned:

How to Use Comments on Social Media to Amplify Reach

  • Be Proactive:
    • Find the top relevant posts in your industry and drop your comment – the funniest and most useful comments generate the most engagement so make sure to stand out!
    • Give your two cents on trending topics.
    • Leave comments on your audience members’ posts.
  • Be Responsive:
    • Generate the kind of content that gets engagement, like contests, live videos, and polls to ignite conversations on your own channel.
    • Respond to those comments to keep the conversation going!

Now it’s up to you to test it out and start growing! 🚀

Let’s keep the conversation going. What have you tested or tried to generate more comments?

Meghan Crawford

Meghan Crawford is a travel writer, audiobook narrator, Iowa City transplant (by way of Florida), and SEO/Growth specialist at Sculpt.

new on the blog

That’s us. Now, who are you?

let's get in touch