10 of My Favorite Reader Comments From 2011

by Mack Collier

It seems that every blogger is doing a ‘Best of 2011′ list on their blogs, and almost all of these posts are a list of their 5 or 10 most popular posts for the year.  For me, that seems like too much horn-tootin’, and if I’m gonna do that, y’all are coming along for the ride 😉

So instead of posting the 10 Most Popular Posts of 2011, I wanted to share what I think are 10 of The Best Comments Y’all Left Here.  These posts were so good cause of the comments y’all left, so you deserve the spotlight as much as I do.  Here’s 10 of the Best Comments Left Here in 2011 (Ranked by most recent first):

10 – Tom MartinOne Way You Can Be a Better Blogger Than Seth Godin:


Great helpful post here. Something I’ve been thinking about lately is how you can use the post headline to help you in Google and then use your Tweets, FB posts, G+ posts to test and push click-worthy headlines. Meaning, the headline you tweet doesn’t have to be the headline of the post.. it could be something more titillating to garner a click and then when a person comes to the post they are rewarded with good content.



9 – Jeff HurtPlanning for 2012: Which Social Media Conferences Should Your Company Attend?:

“As a conference organizer, I’m not sure that Regional is better than National. I often find more innovation and cutting edge ideas from a national/international audience than I do from the regional folks. As for networking, I don’t see that a regional or national/international provides more or less. To me, location is not a boundary to networking today.

i want to go to conferences where I can be challenged and stretched by ideas. I often find that regional conferences are echo chambers of ideas because everyone is sharing, borrowing and adapting, especially those in close proximity. I find totally new ideas from people across the states or from around the globe.

here’s another tidbit I like to suggest to people. When we go to conferences with coworkers, we often take the “Divide and conquer” route to get as much info as possible. I like to shift that thinking. Become peas in a pod…go to a couple sessions together. Then discuss each other’s point of view and how to implement back in the office. Their is more likely a benefit for the organization when there is two or more of you tacking an issue together than just one of you. That’s the best organizational learning around…IMO.”


8 – Bobby RettewWhat Rockstars Can Teach You About Creating Kick-Ass Online Content:

“Mack…you know i love it when people use stories in their blogs. Whether it is a business blog or a personal blog…stories create such palatable context for the audience. The second point of this post is a great reminder to us all…we have to hear, see, and feel as our audience. We have to pear at life through their (the audiences) eyes and ears…then write with them, telling stories that connect us together. Blogging is one of the most wonderful opportunities for our very own personal editorial…connecting with our audience in complete symphony. I am a fan of point number 2.

This point makes think of a story the other day. I am working on a series of stories and I was doing a pre-interview with the main focus of the story. He was explaining his point of view, sharing that his experience was like a symphony. He was saved by numerous healthcare providers and first responders, flown to a hospital, and received a life saving procedure. He described this event as a moment where everyone worked as a symphony. The instruments were the technical tools and the healthcare providers were the musicians…and they created beautiful music. Imagine if we could do the same with words…telling stories that bring life to our blog where the audience and the writer work together as a symphony.

Thanks for your great writing!


7 – Sean McGinnis – Planning for 2012: Which Social Media Conferences Should Your Company Attend?:

“I can see your concerns and they make a lot of sense.

My experience was in a slightly different industry. I sent about 10 SEO consultants to various conferences across the country between 2006 and 2009. During that time I attended only one conference. I felt sending my top employees was more important because they were doing the front line work and also because they really valued the experience of attending these industry events. These were the senior people on my large team (we were about 40 people by 2009) and the feedback I got when sending them was they really appreciated the opportunity.

In fact, as I recruited new employees, i used conference attendance as a job perk, which I know had an effect. I know my replacement has taken the opposite view and only attends conferences himself, and team morale has suffered as a result.

During the report out, I was far less interested in hard core specifics and more interested in their analysis of the event. What were the trends? What should we be aware of as a business? Did they uncover any product opportunities we should consider? What should we be doing that we were not, and what should we possibly not doing any longer that we had been doing. It was a real opportunity to influence policy and change the behavior of my team as well as the business (because SEO was such a big part of our business at that time).”


6 – John MooreThe Promise of Social Media Isn’t in Leveraging Your Customers, it’s in Better Understanding Them:

“What gets measured, gets manufactured.” That’s a line I’ve used many times to describe how companies are making a game out of social media. If Facebook “likes” are being viewed as a measurement of successful customer engagement then, by golly, companies can find ways to make that happen.

I believe social media is making companies lazy as it relates to meaningfully connecting with customers. It’s easy to quickly respond to a customer in “real-time” on Twitter or Facebook or whatever. However that response pales in comparison to a business connecting meaningfully to customers in the “real world.”

At the FIRE Sessions #Blogchat a question came up about how to take customer engagement to the next level using social media. It was then I jumped in the fray to say my HMO (hot marketing opinion) that picking up the phone and calling a loyal customer to thank them was the true school way to take customer engagement to the next level. That’s not the easy way to engage, but it’s a meaningful way that I hope more companies find ways to make happen.

Mack, thanks for the post and for sharing my FIRE Sessions #Blogchat HMO.”


5 – Lisa Petrilli – The Promise of Social Media Isn’t in Leveraging Your Customers, it’s in Better Understanding Them:


I can understand where Jim Farley was coming from having sat in a room full of CEOs listening to them discuss social media. The overwhelming sentiment was fear – which thoroughly surprised me.

I had expected them to be open to the power of social media to connect them more closely with their customers, to deepen loyalty, and to help them understand customer needs – all of which would lead to significant ROI. Instead, what I observed was fear due to a lack of control.

This lack of control over the message (what will our employees say about us? what will our customers say about us?) is not something that they learned to deal with early in their careers, and so they’re well outside the boundaries of the comfort zones. Even the quote from Toby’s Facebook page reflects this. The Big PR Firm VP says their job is no longer control, but that’s exactly what they’re trying to do by arming their fans with talking points.

When a CMO like Jim or the Big PR Firm VP steps in the CEO’s office and presents a message that implies a bit of control…”we’ll do social media this way and then our customers will spread OUR message” that’s something that feels better – less risky.

So, I can see how this perspective would become common in the corporate environment – it’s the one that gets buy-in.

On another note, I don’t know if you saw the link I shared on Twitter earlier today via eMarketer, but it showed that the majority of companies either don’t know if their customers are commenting about them online or are convinced they’re not, and a high percentage don’t respond consistently when they do: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1008686&ecid=a6506033675d47f881651943c21c5ed4&R=1008686

I think this further shows that the mindset of companies is still, “What’s in it for me?” instead of, “What’s in it for you, the customer, and how can I help you with that?”

Excellent, thought-provoking post, Mack!”


4 – Mike AshworthThe Key Feature That Neither Google Plus or Facebook Really Addresses:

“hi mack, you raise a valid point though i’ll answer by way of coming at this from a few angles.

1. i dont think its about “content”. when I follow people rather than say an rss feed of a website, its something else that’s on offer. for want of a better word lets call it your essence, your mojo, the things you post say a lot about the person. recently i’ve been taking a look at behaviours we exhibit in the real world with regard to our interaction rituals and making sense of how this translates to the online world (which in many ways is trying to do just the same except the tools often get in the way). so its more than about content, its about the person. my take on this is that if you want just the “content” subscribe to their blog / rss feed or similar, if you want the “essence” of the person you follow them on twitter (or elsewhere)

2. its all about balance. if i’m connected to someone on twitter then i generally expect to get more than “content”, as explained above. however, and this is an example, if i was following a “thought leader” and pretty much all their tweets seemed to be lame jokes, or updates about reality tv, or all about something other than the passion for which i followed them, then yes, their is a problem. the dilemma for the person hitting enter and tweeting is that the balance between “content” and “other stuff” will always be determined by the person on the other end, always. some ppl will accept / tolerate more non “content” others wont.

3. filters. now this is very interesting and i’ve been reading some research material recently about this, prepare yourself. we don’t need better filters! the reason is simple we only have so many hours in the day to process information. bizarrely as the filters improve, the more “good stuff” is received and then we have to devote more time to processing it, which becomes less efficient. what i’ve discovered is that missing a few things here and there doesn’t actually stop the world revolving, and if it really is something earth shattering, i will definitely hear it from someone, somewhere.”


3 – CKThe Importance of Creating Your Own Blogging Path:

“The beauty of blogging is that it gives us all a way to share our voice.”

YUP! And to share it in different ways: video, slideshows, audio, infodoodles!

I had to make a choice: I could either write a lot more short posts–or be able to create infrequent posts with new tools. For instance, I’m including a ton more video which is great… but it takes time to videotape, then edit, then post them. And I really like creating much larger ‘special’ pieces (like the http://b2bmobilerevolution.com paper = 15 pages!) and that takes time to make a quality piece. Same thing with creating slideshows… they take more time to concept and create–but I sure love doing them.

And after years of doing more posts that were smaller (still a great strategy), I decided to try some different formats that may take more time–and lead to less posts–but I’m enjoying it and learning soooo much. I am so happy to now have a full archive of videos (and that was a BIG step for me to do a full video channel — scary!). But video works for my mobile site as well as my blog–as mobile users need video over longer posts. And it’s fulfilling to look back at a suite of slideshows (love both slideshare and audio-enabled brainshark which lets the slideshow be more ‘personal’). And more, bigger papers and the like are planned… but again, these things easily take a month of planning so the tradeoff is not as much blogging.

But it’s not a sacrifice, it’s just a different choice… and a different way to share my voice, as you so adeptly hit on.

So I learned a lot by trying a different formats/tools and a different frequency. In this ‘era of choice’ with so many tools, it’s good to experiment (as our friend Ann Handley underscored at B2B Forum!). As for the future? We’ll see if it’s still the same strategy but I do know this: the future holds more experimentation, more new lessons and many more valued colleagues to meet, learn from, and cherish.

Sending you a virtual hug and thank goodness I got to see you this month–a year without seeing you IRL is far too infrequent! I want a strategy of seeing MORE Mack :-)

P.S.: Gini, it’s great to meet you :-)


2 – Michiel Gaasterland –Wait, My Blog’s Search Traffic is Down, What happened?:

“Hi Mack,

Thanks for all your posts. I am one of your 3324 RSS subscribers and read most of your posts.

I blog 3x a week myself. Fixed schedule Monday, Wednesday, Friday. My content strategy is simple: I write about the tactical questions my clients have about ‘business’ & ‘social web’ (we help our clients become publishers of great content).

Blogging more would definitely help increase my search traffic for the sheer reasons of having more content out there. But I do think that the keyword aspect is really important.

I always try to visualise my target audience, figure out how they will search and translate that to full keyword phrases (incl verbs, etc). Example: I recently wrote a post about converting your Facebook profile to a page. I knew my keywords, but found out through research in forums, comments, etc that all these people used different words. I translated these words to my post. Ended up getting loads of traffic from people who where searching for solutions to this specific problem.

I can’t comment much on the ‘dip’ in your traffic, because I don’t have enough data to compare.

But as for ‘general advice’ (if there even is such a thing ;-) here’s a thought:

You are writing really conversational. You also have a pretty large following. A lot of people on your blog are people you have met in real life and online. (so keep writing conversational!)

But search engine traffic is mostly from people who don’t know you. They might be more solution oriented. They are looking for specific things. You are offering LOADS of great and specific advice in your posts. I think you also optimise and write well. But the one thing you don’t do (at least from what I see) is pay special attention to your Title Tag. If you use the keyphrase you want to be found on in there, you have a much better chace of getting in that search engine traffic.

Tip: use the ‘Custom title tag’ option in wordpress. You can then keep on using your nice conversational headers (they become h1).

Hope this helps. And thanks for all your great blog posts.

(“Sorry for writing you a long letter: I didn’t have time to write you a short one” – Mark Twain)

All the best from Amsterdam,



1 – Margie ClaymanWhat’s the Real Business Value of Comments?:

“Here’s where I come down on the plumber issue. It’s a radical, potentially sacrilegious point of view for which I could be very easily burned or thrown into the river.


Not everyone needs to blog. You might be in an industry where a blog, as in, something that invites back and forth communication, is not really needed. Talk to your customers. See how THEY want to learn from you, and then deliver it that way.

We work with a company whose industry still prefers print publications for the most part. In fact, the publication’s readers threw a fit when the newsprint was abandoned for glossier paper. If you try to blog for folks who are on the road getting their hands dirty all day, you need to ask yourself not just about comments, but you need to ask yourself when your customers are going to wipe off their hands, take time out of their busy schedule, and read for 20 minutes.

If you’re worried that your audience won’t take the time to comment, you need to ask if they’ll take the time to read. If that’s a concern, maybe a better channel would make more sense. That’s why research on the front end of a Social Media campaign is so darned important.

Just my $1.50 :)


So there’s 10 of my favorite blog comments from y’all this year!  To clarify, I decided to limit it to 1 comment per, or a few of y’all would have had multiple entries on this list 😉

In reviewing these comments it really made me appreciate the value that y’all create here every day by sharing your smart thoughts and opinions.  I appreciate every one of you, and look forward to hearing more of your #smartitude in 2012!

Happy New Year everyone!

Davina K. Brewer December 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Been working on my own ‘horn tooting’ post, will have to find a way to do one of these too. Just a great idea, good way to highlight posts AND recognize the commenters who make a blog work. Otherwise I’d have missed John and Lisa’s comments on the Understanding Customers post, many others, and the reread of Margie’s excellent $1.50 on Value of Comments. Have a good New Year.

Sean McGinnis December 30, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Key learning for me in 2011 – leave the filter off a bit more….

I damn near deleted that comment prior to sending it. I was really concerned you would see it a bit on the confrontational side.

I need to be less concerned with appearances and more concerned with engaging in good, quality, healthy discussion and debate.

Happy New Year Mack! And thanks so much for including me. I’m honored!

Mack Collier December 30, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Hey Sean, I think differing viewpoints enhance a conversation because they give others the opportunity to chime in.

Besides, I can tell when someone is disagreeing versus trying to be disagreeable 😉 Happy New Year my friend!

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