I’ve been seeing more and more business people hit the social media streams lately. More Indigenous businesses are Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagraming and LinkedIn-ing about their business, their crews, their products and services, and news with their networks. It’s fantastic!

However in addition to all that activity, what I’m occasionally seeing is a sense of frustration that all that activity doesn’t seem to be returning anything – there aren’t quite as many comments and likes as they thought they’d get (or think they deserve).

My question to those new to social media is, hey it’s great that you’re here, but in thinking about the silence you’re getting, ask yourself, what kind of audience member are you? If you have been pretty much silent on social media in the past, and are now suddenly a-flurry with activity but you haven’t taken the time to look and see what other people (your followers, your peers, your clients) are doing; if you aren’t liking and comment on your peers’ activities, there’s a chance they won’t be commenting on yours.

When I was teaching, we used to note which students were the great listeners. They were the audience members who participated in their peers’ presentations. They were the curious, generous and they recognised that it wasn’t just enough for them to focus on their own work, but to acknowledge the effort that others put into theirs. I think there are few people who are new to social media that haven’t quite worked out that focusing on yourself isn’t the key to success in this context.

Now this comment probably doesn’t apply to folks who have tens of thousands of followers, you’re already in the zone. I’m also not talking about those who have solid public profiles and use an Oprah-esque technique of having followers without actually doing anything to get them. I’m directing this comment at the micro-businesses like myself. Some of us with sub-200 followers.

When I started using social media in 2009, I started reading Chris Brogan‘s work pretty much straight away. He, and others, say the way to make it in social, in addition to producing your own awesome original content, is that you should also talk about others, what a great job they’re doing, respond to others and acknowledge them. All this in addition to talking about you.

If you’re not getting the ROI you think you should be, why not give this approach a go for a bit. See what appears …. you might be surprised.

What kind of an audience member are you? Are you generous with your attention? Or are you content to hog the stage? 


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