Listen First

If You Want People to Listen to You - Listen to Them

Last August I wrote a series of posts dealing with the four most common objections to social media:

My purpose was to “handle” each objection – which is really a salesy way of saying I wanted to counter each objection with logic, facts and common sense. I hope I succeeded. But in the past few days I’ve been asking myself (what is it about a new year that makes us talk to ourselves?) a more basic question about social media .

Why Do We Do It? Why Do We Really Do It?

There’s an urban legend that’s floated around Hollywood for years. (Note: I’ve never been to Hollywood.) The legend has it that a young Dustin Hoffman once asked his idol, the great Lawrence Olivier, “why do we act? I mean really, why do we do it?” Pausing for a moment, Olivier looked at Hoffman and said, “there are three reasons why we do this. Look at me, look at me and look at me.” Dustin, it seems was hoping for a deeply philosophical answer. What he got instead was a heavy dose of honesty. For businesses the objective of social media is simple – to connect with your customers in a way that increases your potential to sell whatever it is you sell. For the millions (or is it gazillions by now) who tweet and twitter for personal reasons, I suspect the motivation has more to do with Olivier’s response to Dustin Hoffman’s question. Make no mistake, there is ego involved here. We do it because in doing so we are exercising our very human need to be heard, to be validated. And in the world of social media there is no greater validation than to have people follow your tweets and comment on your blog posts.

How to Increase Your Following

Ah! The holy grail. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet here. There is no “one thing” that is guaranteed to build your following and have hordes of consumers clambering for more. But as Oprah would say, here is what I know for sure. You will NEVER get anyone to follow you if you’re not following anyone. You will NEVER get anyone to read your posts and comment on them if you don’t read and comment on theirs. Keep this word in the front of your brain: Community. To get people to participate in the conversation (and that’s how you should be thinking of your social media efforts) you must participate. Think two way street. Habit number 5 in Stephen Covey’s wildly popular and important book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People states “seek first to understand, then be understood.” I’m sure Mr. Covey would not mind my slight adaptation: Seek first to follow then be followed.

And Now Back to You

Do you blog or tweet on a regular basis? Do you have followers? Do people comment on your posts? If so, how are you building your community? Who do you follow? Do you participate? Talk to me.

Photo credit: Joe M photo

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