Take a look at the phrase “social media” – what would your response be if you were asked its literal meaning?

The most obvious answer would be media that is social – whether that’s participating in an online group, sharing your views on a topic or leaving a comment on a blog, offering your opinion and insight. So why do so many proponents of social media come across as anything but social?

I’m mainly talking about blogs that either have closed comments, or require you to register with the site to leave a comment. Maybe it’s just me, but personally I feel that takes away the whole social aspect of social media.

My take on social media is that it’s a combination of different tools and communities, all coming together to offer an invaluable and co-operative journey with online friends. Even business social media is more about how businesses can reach their customers effectively and pro-actively, therefore building a loyal online database that ensures the company’s growth and sustainability.

So why potentially ruin this new world by sticking with the old cliquish approach of invite-only commenting?

I know that it’s down to personal choice as to whether you allow comments on your blog or not – after all, one of the negative sides of the blogosphere (at least in the early days) has been the puerile comments that are often left.

(Although thanks to the likes of BackType, the quality of blog comments should hopefully improve to a consistent level of maturity along the lines of those found on the leading social media blogs).

But isn’t this what comment filters are for? Having the option to approve all comment posts before publication eliminates (or at the very least, greatly reduces) playground-level comments.

Perhaps the blogs that have closed comments or require membership to post a response do so in the belief that it helps build their own specific community. This seems plausible, since the majority of blogs that I’ve come across with closed or member comments only do seem to be of the business variety.

I can’t help but feel that they’re missing out, though. Sure, a members-only comment option may encourage a number of people to sign up so that they can join in the discussion. Yet at the same time, you can pretty much guarantee this is a far smaller number than the amount of commentators you’d get with an open comment policy.

And if you don’t know what your readers are really thinking, aren’t you missing the whole point of building your brand and voice through the social media medium? Doesn’t seem like good business to me…

What do you think? Does it matter if comments are closed? Do you feel the need to share your opinion on something you’ve just read, or are you more interested in what’s being said as opposed to what you want to say? I’d be interested on your views.

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Danny Brown
Co-author Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Brand Influencers in Social Media Marketing. #1 marketing blog in world as per HubSpot. Husband. Father. Optimist. Pragmatist. Never says no to a good single malt. You can find me on Twitter - Google+ - LinkedIn.
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