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A few weeks back, my supervisor asked me to do a blog on my experience as a virtual medical assistant doing a blog and forum commenting task.

While most of you would probably start your blogs like: “ It was a summer of firsts. It was my first time all by myself to travel to a land unknown. Or, it was my first time to fly in a plane.” Followed-up by: “ I clasped the hand rest tightly as little shivers ran up and down my spine. I could hardly breathe. I felt the plane lift into the air, our bodies were suspended on nothingness.”

Well, it wasn’t how mine was supposed to start; my task as a virtual medical assistant at that time was more technical than creative. On the other hand, I didn’t want it to sound dull and monotonous, so I managed to inject some creativity and, this is how it ended up. What follows is the more technical account of that experience that was actually asked of me.

What is a forum and blog commenting task?

This is a task that asks you to go into any forum or blog site that is in relation to your client’s line of business. There, you will make an account which you can use to make comments or join discussions. These comments is a subtle way to market the business without outrightly selling it. Most of the time, you will need to insert keywords or links that are in accordance to what your client needs other people to know – always, it is anything that has to do with his business.

Why is commenting relevant in marketing?

Forums are a kind of virtual community that act as a support group most of the time. You can find them in the web on practically every topic imaginable. Some develop virtual friendships, over time, from the little support group they have created. Blogs, of course, are written anecdotes and prose of people’s experiences, opinions, or knowledge they want to share with others. People flock to these sites to either get or give feedback and advice to each other.

However, nowadays, forums and blogs have become an effective target for online marketers. Their large number of membership gives such an ideal platform to get a brand or a business known. Online marketers or business owners would join this forums to subtly advertise their products or services to reach a more specific audience for their marketing pitches. There are also those who are callously blunt to just directly promote their business.

In my opinion though, if you want it to work, you need to be more discreet. You would go a long way if you try to earn the trust and respect of the site’s population than using bluntness. For one, your account could get reported and maybe even banned if any one of the members flag a post or comment you made.

How to properly make a commenting task:

  1. Always show courtesy. Even when others are not, I always try to be as polite as I can be. I am never rude in my comments. Try to start with a greeting as much as you can: a simple “Hi!” will do. If you are doing blogs, make it a point to do some ego stroking – meaning, praise the author’s work when it deserves praise. You can also do a general appreciation for the article – as a whole. For forums, on the other hand, always make them feel your concern through your words. People in medical forums are almost always there to get answers for their health problems or at the very least, some words of sympathy.
  2. Make positive and smart comments. Who likes hearing from a downer? It doesn’t mean that just because your bottom line purpose is to market something, you can be callous or careless in making comments. You have to sound like a professional or a concerned member. If you can, learn a little about the topic before composing your comment. Be a helpful ally to others, not an obnoxious idiot.
  3. Use only subtlety. Your foremost reason for being in a forum or a blog is to promote a business or a product. This does not, in any way, mean that you bluntly tell them to buy anything. The best strategy here is the power of suggestion. Do not impose; suggest. For example, a friend of yours has a headache, you don’t just say: “Hey, go out and buy this or that medicine!” Instead, you will probably tell him/her, “I tried this product once, and it really surprised me how it worked so quickly for me.” Right? You didn’t go here to make demands on people; what you need is to earn their trust and respect. That is the only way this marketing strategy will work.
  4. Make an effort to respond. Monitor your comments to see if anybody has replied. The polite thing to do will be to respond back and thank them for having read your comment. If they made any inquiries, try to give a corresponding answer that can help them. If anybody made a rude remark, do not respond in the same vein. Either ignore it entirely or explain your side if there is a need to do so. Never stoop down to their level, because you are a professional who just wants to reach out and help others by sharing what you know. These are what you need to establish in these sites.
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