What brands can learn from the ways creators are using comments to build communities and boost engagement

Posted by Dina Zubi in Comment

1 month ago

Creators are finding new ways to strengthen their communities by utilising the comment section in innovative ways. From playing friend matchmakers and encouraging the exchange of advice to replying to followers and AI-generated messages, the comment section has never been more important.

In March, presenter Chessie King urged followers in their 20s to ask questions and women in their 30s to answer them. One follower said: “I’m 23, is it true when you reach your 30s you start caring less about people’s opinions?” – her question received 275 answers from other women. King’s post raked in 804,000 views, close to 8,000 likes and more than 2,700 comments.

The comment section can also be a gateway to IRL friendships. Podcasters Alex Light and Emily Clarkson encouraged their audience to make friends with other people attending their Should I Delete That? live shows in an Instagram post that gained more than 300 comments. The podcast duo later shared that many of their followers who attended alone made friends at the shows and 25 listeners met up for drinks ahead of the London performance.

TikTok has also championed the act of replying to a comment with a new video, fostering a deeper connection between creators and followers. Lifestyle influencer Ambar Driscoll responded to a comment about her parents looking cool with a selection of images of them from their youth, while Leanne Page shared a skincare tutorial featuring Byoma products, as requested by one follower. Makeup artist Michaela Devaughan has a series where she reviews new beauty launches her followers are interested in, and TV personalities Joe and Lisa Baggs were asked by a fan to debate whether ketchup belongs in the fridge or a cupboard.

Of course, many creators also have a turbulent relationship with the comment section, as it opens public figures up to scrutiny. Chef Poppy O’Toole has responded to comments about her weight and being “too pleased with herself”, while trans activist Charlie Craggs regularly calls out transphobic comments on her account. Beauty creator Elle McNamara (Bambi Does Beauty) has criticised comments about her decision to not get married or have children, and lifestyle creator Shelby Lynch responded to followers saying she has a “victim mentality”.

Though it opens influencers up to scrutiny, interacting with comments is an essential way to build a community, as cleaning creator Jack Callaghan recently told CORQ. He strives to answer as many comments as possible, including questions, criticism and praise, both on Instagram and TikTok. Brands are reaping the rewards of comment interactions as well, as VIEVE CEO Emma Dawson told CORQ about the brand’s Instagram community: “Nine times out of ten someone in the community will respond before we do – they don’t know each other but it’s created a nice level playing field where people are more open,” she said.

Another trend is boosting engagement through the Instagram comment section. Many creators do this through encouraging their followers to comment in order to receive an AI-automated message from the influencer. Irish food creator Sarah Butler asked her followers to comment “YES” to be sent her 90-minute batch cooking instructions. Her video has a 2.45% engagement rate and more than 3,100 comments – significantly more than her other recent posts. Similarly, posing coach Daniel Asante asked his followers to comment “LESSON” if they wished to receive his posing guide; his May Reel has a 4.12% engagement rate and more than 1,800 comments.

Entrepreneur Steven Bartlett also uses this tactic, often to promote new episodes of his podcast The Diary of a CEO. On a recent clip with music manager Simon Cowell, Bartlett wrote “comment ‘SIMON’ and I’ll DM you the episode” – the Reel has more than two million views and 13,800 comments.

Ryanair is famously entertaining in the comment section, often responding with sassy comebacks or self-deprecating jokes, which has made the company a TikTok favourite. Brands can learn plenty from influencers’ comment sections – staying reactive, opening up for constructive criticism and finding the fun in customer interactions can be hugely valuable in building a community and a loyal fanbase.

By Dina Zubi, CORQ news and features writer. Picture credit: Should I Delete That via Instagram