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Are You the Friend Who Never Shuts Up?

This guest post is by Daniel Smith of Propaganda House.

You know who I’m talking about: that friend who makes you wince whenever you see them pop up on your phone, or makes you dread social events that you know they’re going to be at. They’re like Jerry’s friend Joel Horneck in the Seinfeld episode “Male Unbonding“—the person who never shuts about themselves, and doesn’t pay attention to a single word you say.

I was becoming that person on social media

Not listening

Image copyright Renee Jansoa - Fotolia.com

Yes, I was becoming a Joel Horneck on social media. I was getting too absorbed in my own stuff, only caring about how many people viewed my posts and shared them with others. Scheduling posts on Facebook and Twitter, and not even looking at the timeline to see what other people were sharing.

Meanwhile, I was missing out on all the fantastic content that others were posting, and also missing out on developing relationships with these like-minded content creators.

Communication is 50% listening, 50% talking

The number one tip in the Social Media Examiner article “6 ways to become likeable with social media” is to “listen and never stop listening”.

Everyone wants to be heard, including your customers and clients. Listening to people is the best way to make them feel important, and it’s also the best way to build their trust in you. Don’t think this just applies to individuals; businesses can be good listeners as well, and can reap just as many rewards—potentially many more.

If it’s good enough for social media success stories, it’s good enough for you

How do you think people get successful on social media? I can assure you it’s not by constantly talking down to their followers.

One thing I’ve noticed with the majority of my favorite content creators on social media is that regardless of the size of their followings, they take the time to thank you or reply when you share their posts or leave a comment. The really good ones even personalize the experience by taking the time to check out your site and comment about it.

Don’t think they’ve got some magical advantage which allows them to engage better than you—there are only 24 hours in their days as well. Think of it this way: if you’re really efficient, you could check out someone’s site and comment about it in less than two minutes. I know those minutes add up pretty quickly, but if it creates a long term fan/subscriber/client/customer, isn’t it worth it?

Show that you’re listening

Reacting when people comment on or share your work is only a start, though. You should be aiming to be proactive.

Take some time each day to check out other peoples’ work, leave a comment, and share it to show them how valuable you found it. Not only will you make them feel good about what they’ve done and motivate them to do more; there’s a fair chance they’ll return the favor at some point down the track. Some simple ways to be proactive and show that you’re listening include:

  • Take some time out each day to retweet other peoples’ tweets. Be authentic, though: don’t just retweet for the sake of it. Retweet the stuff you like and think will be valuable to your audience.
  • Subscribe to peoples’ blogs and comment as often as you can.
  • Promote other peoples’ content by sharing with your audience on networks like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
  • Create conversations and engage others by replying to their tweets, commenting on Facebook posts, etc.

If doing these things doesn’t come naturally, it might help to create a list. Set yourself a number of retweets and comments that you’ll make each day, and eventually it will become second nature.

Start now

How can you start doing it right away? Leave a comment on this post, or share it! Obviously that’s what I want you to do, but it’s also a good way to see if I’m practicing what I preach. Will I reply to your comment? Will I thank you for sharing it? Let’s find out…

Daniel Smith is the founder of and social media consultant at Propaganda House. Hit him up on twitter @propagandahouse.

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Comments

  1. The “give to get” strategy seems to me to work best not only in social media but in a much broader spectrum of relationships.

    Help people out with a mention, link, tweet, and most of the time it always comes back your way.

    Do this enough, and you’ll have people mentioning you because they know there’s a good change you’ll reciprocate, and this give and take is a great way to spread any sort of brand that you are working on.

    • Daniel says:

      Exactly Gregory – and while you start out giving “to get”, soon enough your online relationships get to a level where it’s natural to share other people’s content because you want to, and you won’t even think about the getting part anymore (but it will still happen).

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Wasim Ismail says:

    With so much happening on Socail Media, and one trying to catch up with everything it can seem that one is drowning in this stream of posts and activates, and feels obliged to keep talking. I know what you mean.
    Sometimes we just need to take a step back, be natural, and look at Socail Media again, its a place to be social and network with each other, rather than just seeming like a constant robot.
    Thanks for the article, enjoyed reading on my Sunday off.

    • Daniel says:

      Exactly right Wasim – it can be very draining. I think when interaction starts becoming a chore it’s definitely time to take a step back and have a look what you’re doing.

      Glad to provide some light entertainment for your Sunday off ;)

    • Netzonpk says:

      Hello ‘With so much happening at Socail Media, and try to catch everything it can seem like you’re drowning in the flood of messages and activate, and feels compelled to keep talking. I know what you think.

  3. irene says:

    Many things can happen when we are communicating in cyberspace, but the most important thing is the social relationship between them and mutual understanding. together we are able to move forward and also sometimes need to be a friend kita.tidak always have to patronize the audience, but sometimes enough to listen and guide

  4. I really enjoyed this post. I have actually found myself unfollowing people on Twitter, or canceling subscriptions when I feel that the person is in it solely for themselves. Luckily, this has only happened a handful of times out of the hundreds that I follow.

    • Daniel says:

      Pretty sure you’re not the only one doing this Ashley – now that Twitter’s been around for a while, and people have learned that your follower count isn’t the be all and end all, they’re less afraid to unfollow.. The fact you’ve only had to remove a couple indicates you were smart with who you followed from the outset though. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Leah Goodman says:

    Thanks. Great post! Sometimes I find it hard to figure out where to start a conversation in Twitter. Any guidelines? I’m still a little afraid of butting into ‘private’ conversations.

    • Daniel says:

      Think of it like a real life situation. People who’re desperate to get attention and make friends usually have trouble making them as they try to hard to be something they’re not – whereas people who’re relaxed and just be themselves find it easy.

      How does this relate to twitter? Don’t scour the timeline looking for conversations to jump in on – just keep an eye on the timeline, see what people are talking about – and eventually you’ll see a conversation you have something valuable to contribute to, there’s your chance.

      There’s no precise recipe for it, but hopefully this helps :)

  6. Well you have definitely summed up my web activity for the last 6 months, I will take note and make sure I pay more attention and communicate a bit more instead of keeping it one sided. Thanks for the nudge, I’m not sure I would have realized I was doing it otherwise ;-)

  7. Thanks for the reminder to promote other peoples content on sites like Facebook and Google+.

  8. Amanda says:

    Thank you, Daniel! It’s easy to get wrapped up in my Facebook and newsletter stats and look at them as the most important markers of success, so I appreciate your encouragement to remember that it’s all about people! There’s a real, live person behind every comment and every page view. My site’s all about building community–I’d better walk my talk then!

    • Daniel says:

      Absolutely Amanda – I too get caught in that trap! Maybe we should include a picture of someone’s face on our reports just so we remember..

  9. I build this into my daily blogging schedule. I try to be very honest with the comments I make about others’ work too. Not only is it more meaningful to them, but it also shows my readers I am trustworthy in my recommendations. I even keep a “following” tab on my blog where my readers can see reviews of blogs I love and think are share-worthy.

    Jenna
    callherhappy.com

    • Daniel says:

      Honesty is so refreshing online Jenna, even if it’s negative (as long as it’s constructive) – so many people just go with the flow and keep their head down, quality feedback can be hard to find.

      The following tab is a great idea too!

  10. Fred Tracy says:

    This is some really good information. I was becoming much too much of “that friend” for a while on twitter too.

    It’s time to start re-tweeting and sharing more of other people’s content. :-)

  11. Robby G says:

    I noticed I used to be the Joel Horneck of social media in the beginning but overtime I genuinely became more interested in other people and their posts and sharing them. Now my traffic is high and I have many more interesting friends who I help out and they sincerely like to help me back.

    • Daniel says:

      It’s a natural progression isn’t it Robby – you can only listen to the sound of your own voice for so long, and it’s much more fulfilling when other people get involved.

  12. Sean Davis says:

    Awesome reminder. I used to feel that way on Facebook sometimes. I was way too concerned with what I was doing on there and didn’t give a damn about my feed.

    In fact, I mentioned multiple times that Facebook was annoying because of the amount of crap in my feed. That was a direct insult to my “friends” and probably made me look snobbish.

    I eventually left Facebook because I didn’t like what it did to socializing in general. I’ll keep this advice in mind when it comes to the other social networks, though.

    Thanks.

    • Daniel says:

      I know where you’re coming from Sean, and to be honest I’m still an offender on Facebook – I don’t mean to be snobbish, I just don’t prioritize it as highly as other platforms. Thank YOU for the reminder ;)

  13. Colby Keeler says:

    I actually think that communication is more than 50% listening. There is simply no way, unless you are incredible at discernment, to find out what exactly a client needs if you are talking half the time. It’s seems that many “salespeople” still have the stereotypical car salesman image when it comes to selling; I’m not going to try to sell you what you want but rather what I think you want (or will make me the biggest commisison possible).
    This actually re-enforces your next point about how the biggest bloggers etc. that you follow take the time to respond (acknowledge) their readers. It’s about the client, not the seller. It’s about the reader, not the writer. Great post!

    • Daniel says:

      Agreed Colby, very good point. At the same time though – it can sometimes take a bit of prodding to uncover people’s true thoughts and desires. For example, if this post was simply one line that said “Are you rude?” Most people would answer no. However due to the depth of the post, many people have commented they were being rude and didn’t even realize it, see what I mean?

      Great thoughts and thanks for the comment!

  14. Bougie Girl says:

    Amen. I have always shared blog links on my Facebook page, but I rarely left comments on those sites. A couple of weeks ago, I started leaving comments on my favorite blogs and I noticed that my readership has increased as a result. Great post!

  15. Great post. Thanks for the reminders.

  16. Sherrilynne says:

    I’m really working on the listening aspect of social media. I’m trying to focus more on blogs than on social networks for a while. I am enjoying hearing some different voices.

    • Daniel says:

      Nice idea Sherrilynne – the noise of the social networks can be a bit overwhelming at times, so it can be good to sink your teeth into the longer form content of blogs – you generally get greater insights.

  17. Yvonne says:

    I’ll admit I came back to the twitter and blogging world with some hesitation. I got so overwhelmed by how much was out there and wanted to keep up with everyone but ended up getting so lost…
    I like reading what others have to say about the world and their part in it and I do need some help with blogging and what to actually do on twitter so I will continue to follow your posts and hopefully learn something from you. Thanks

  18. About your point “Communication is 50% talking and 50% listening” – I have another thinking of it – “You have 2 ears and 1 mouth, so listen twice as much as you speak”.

    I strongly believe in that and also the other factors laid out by you, a better blogger is one who reads and respects what others have to say.

  19. Michelle says:

    I love the “give to get” policy. I read that oh so many years ago when I was starting my business (http://naturallymaidcleaning.com) and have never forgotten it. One guy who spammed my comments and I removed them..took to emailing me to tell me that *I* had no business ethics. “You give out cleaning recipes your natural cleaning site! That’s bad business ethics and stupid too!!” I don’t see his site around the web anymore.

    Thanks for sharing reciprocity with others. It’s necessary in ANY relationship.

  20. I have to agree that we would benefit greatly if we would only become less self absorbed. I did a test and stopped retweeting posts of blogs that I regularly comment on. Guess what? The tweets on my posts went down as well.

  21. Ling says:

    With hundreds of thousands of blogs around us, we also need to focus to which blogs we’re going to build relationship with. Otherwise we’ll be slowing down our own blog.

  22. peter says:

    Very interesting read, great site thank you…cheers Peter
    PS I have selective hearing only sometimes :)

  23. James Greg says:

    Listening to what others have to say is more important than just delivering what comes to your mouth. In many of such cases people have been observed swerving off track and still rampaging the public and confusing the whole plot. There are many friends who have the habit developed only to get avoided after a time and then they are lonely only to search a new prey.

  24. Netzonpk says:

    I worked hard for the part of social media listening. I’m trying to focus more on social networking blog for some time. I love to hear some different voices.

  25. Bob Garrett says:

    Hey Daniel

    Do you hear me now? I love Puffy Shirts by the way – great post

  26. Janet Huey says:

    The headline should be featured in a “Great Headlines” post. There was NO way I was going to scroll past that!

  27. Caylie Price says:

    Listening and ONLY then responding is vital. Through responding to a Kirsty Dunphey tweet I got the opportunity to guest post in her newsletter. Listening definitely works. Great reminder. Thanks Daniel.

  28. naijadotcom says:

    Listening is a virtue we all should adopt.

  29. Its great to be reminded every once in a while to get off your high horse. Facebook is filled with self sbsorbed people that brag to others about their lives. Twitter, OMG…..Lets walk around all day assuming people care about every mundane task you perform. These are the same people that wouldn’t shut up in high school..”LET OTHERS PUT IN THEIR 2 CENTS”.

    • Daniel says:

      I know exactly the kind of people your’e talking about Gary.. Maybe direct any you know to this post? Thanks for the comment ;)

  30. Barbara says:

    A one-sided conversation eventually becomes uninteresting and boring – even to the speaker. Much better to have conversation that flows from one person to the other. That’s how comments should be – and we can learn from other people’s comments, it’s a two-way thing. We can all help each other in the bloggosphere by sharing posts on social media etc.
    Great post Daniel, and I’d love to re-post if I may.

    • Daniel says:

      Exactly Barbara! There’s a lot more benefit to having open ears AND mouth rather than just the latter.. Thanks for the comment and re the re-post you can shoot me a message via twitter or my site.

  31. Mark Aylward says:

    I like the “call to action” emphasis and the complete transparency of it too. Lessons within lessons!
    And none of us listen enough…
    Thanks
    Mark

    • Daniel says:

      Thanks Mark – Transparency is definitely the key, if you treat your audience like idiots they’ll treat you like someone who treats people like idiots (if that makes sense!).

      Cheers
      Dan

  32. DavGit says:

    You are right. Listening to like-minded content creators is very important. Listening helps others feel important. Thanks for sharing this – I hope you are listening.

  33. This is a great reminder in our Live Out Loud world. It doesn’t mean you’re not there if you turn it down, you know, like a ‘close talker.’ Great post.

    David

  34. I have really enjoyed finding this site. It is very helpful. I am a Mom of 7 and I really need my blogging to make a difference in our lives right now. SO keep up the good work.

  35. lalan says:

    thank you very much! You are right. Listening helps others feel important. Thanks for sharing this – I hope you are listening.

  36. Shana Putnam says:

    I get people who tell me they can’t believe I reply to every single comment on my blog. Why wouldn’t I? Maybe it is my Southern roots but when someone talks to you, you answer. Now I don’t get as many as some people but when I have big giveaways going there do tend to be a lot of comments. I just answer them as they come in and not a canned reply. I always make it personal. I love the relationships and interaction between myself and other bloggers. I just don’t understand people who don’t value the actual communication part of it. I do get discouraged sometimes because it seems like the ones being this way have thousands of followers and get all the best products and companies to work with but I don’t want to give up on being a real person behind my writing you know? Anyway, loved the article. Thanks.

  37. Lusine says:

    Thanks for the great information. I want to agree with the statement you made about posts being read and shared, as much as possible. We all would love to see that happen. However, Social media world consists of people, and everyone needs attention being heard and understood, and thus each of us should highly value other’s posts, as we would do our own.

  38. Adam Sloope says:

    Nice work. I think social media can become an ego boosting tool is not used properly, some see it as a forum to just talk about themselves, instead of a forum to promote their brand which is always best done by following some of your wise words.