Building a Comment Strategy

Article 6 min
Discover the specifics of a solid comment strategy and how to implement and maintain one.

What is a comment strategy?

A comment strategy is a plan units should develop in their overall social media strategy and implement during the planning and creation of content. Along with their unique value proposition (UVP) and commander's intent, it serves as a roadmap for public affairs professionals to maintain control over the narrative of a post, and communicate important information to audiences who are already on hand. It is the guidelines for speaking with the audience in a conversational fashion.

In this mock post reflecting a real issue, the command spells out what was and was not allowed during the COVID19 pandemic. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION Team
Mock Facebook post from PAVILION's account that reads, "Reminder: Under HPCON C-, Sailors are expected to limit stops outside of work to “essential businesses” including food, medical, gas, and childcare. Visiting off-installation swimming pools, gyms, dine-in restaurants, and non-essential commercial retail is all prohibited. Also off-limits: public beaches, concerts, taking part in team or organized sports and going to any event designed to promote large gatherings. Sailors are allowed to get take-out from restaurants under HPCON C-.
In this mock post reflecting a real issue, the command spells out what was and was not allowed during the COVID19 pandemic.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION Team
VIRIN: 201113-D-PA656-0001

The ideal response is one that indicates the message has been received and understood. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION Team
Mock Facebook post from PAVILION's account with a response that reads, "Alex Luvander Comment: Thank you for looking out! Official PAVILION page response: Stay safe!"
The ideal response is one that indicates the message has been received and understood.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION Team
VIRIN: 201113-D-PA656-0002

This is the ideal scenario. The information is received positively and the response is equally positive from the large majority of the audience.

For the positive comments, you'll still want to reply and engage with your audience, make them feel appreciated and want to come back. The more comments and conversations that are on your post, the more elevated your post will be against the algorithm.

The likely response to a post like the one shown would be asking for a specific answer to a unique scenario. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION Team
Mock Facebook post from PAVILION's account that reads, "Tammy Ramoz Comment: Is the home improvement store considered essential? Official PAVILION page reply: Home improvement stores meet the guidelines of essential business. Please follow the store requirements for face coverings."
The likely response to a post like the one shown would be asking for a specific answer to a unique scenario.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION Team
VIRIN: 201113-D-PA656-0003

This kind of exchange will make up the bulk of your social media. Users will comment in very specific ways, relevant to their self-interests. The likely path is always some positive and some negative; you'll need to be prepared with a response for both. When posting new or easily misunderstood information, there will likely be questions. Be prepared for those, too.

When a question comes up, respond with truthful answers. Let the audience know you're looking into the question. This may require some research but be timely in your response to ensure no one can answer with false information or troll the post before you respond.

The worst scenario is one where the response comment is inflammatory. Photo by DINFOS PAVILION Team
Mock Facebook post from PAVILION's account that reads, "Clint Frederick Comment: This is garbage. My wife can go to the beach, why can't I? Official PAVILION Page response: Understand your frustration but under HPCON C-this is not allowed."
The worst scenario is one where the response comment is inflammatory.
Photo by: DINFOS PAVILION Team
VIRIN: 201113-D-PA656-0004

This is where your skills in crisis communication will serve you well. Remember, address the post but not the poster. Focus on dispelling misinformation.

Social media can get dicey and turn negative really quickly. Conflict makes it hard to get the message across. Try to stay focused on just answers that are relevant to the post.

After posting, the exact response can be decided on a case-by-case basis but all responses should abide by your comment strategy and incorporate your commander's intent through the use of command messaging.

Tips for Maintaining Your Comment Strategy

  • Disassociate personal feelings from the unit or command presence that you represent. Think beyond the immediate reply to the 2nd and 3rd order effects that could come from commenting. Does this comment open a door somewhere you don't want to go? Does this comment create an opportunity to further messaging? Is there an opportunity to leverage other organizations who can comment as well by tagging them in? Care about your brand but keep a thick skin.
  • Be a good storyteller in your comments. People are used to skimming and have short attention spans, so you'll need to draw them in fast. Still, respond like a person, not like a robot.
  • Have a good understanding of the platforms and how they work. Develop an intuition about posting using what you know about the environment and the players.
  • Ask yourself whether or not you own the narrative you are promoting. Is this your lane to speak on, or should you leverage the SMEs available.
  • Always have a second set of eyes, even if it’s in the middle of bomb threats, incidents, urgency, NOW NOW NOW, make sure someone else is checking.
  • Have a diverse team to run things by people that don’t think like you, to vet your info.
  • The minute you hit send, read it again. You’ll see your mistake and can edit/delete it.
  • Engage with other pages and profiles:
    1. Comment on and engage with other pages.
    2. Tag other pages.
    3. Ask other pages to tag your page.
    4. Go live and ask public figures or other relevant organizations to engage by commenting.