You have followers, but do you have listeners?

Social media is supposed to be about communication, but do people listen to you when you use the medium?

Followers, friends, connections, buddies, whatever-they’re-called-on-LinkedIn (sorry, I just can’t bother with it)… whatever they’re called on whatever services you use, they’re not what you think they are. Chances are, they’re not listeners – and you need them to be.

Let’s use Twitter terminology from here. There’s a huge difference between a follower and a listener. A follower is a statistic. A follower is merely a part of a tally found on your Twitter page. A listener is engaged. A listener takes the time to read what you put out there. A listener may not always answer your call to action, but at least he hears your call to action – a follower doesn’t.

There are lots of ways to ensure that you have a great follower-to-listener ratio. Be personable. Be passionate. Be likable – or at least notable. Be witty, funny or thought-provoking. Be interesting.

How do you ensure that nobody listens to you? Here’s two examples. Both of these people started following me, and I always check out the streams of those who follow me before following them back (or not).

Don't be these people. Nobody will listen.

On the left, someone who never interacts, and updates his status with the most inane, boring statements someone could make. On the right, someone who only ever retweets other people while occasionally posting tech headlines that are readily available from places like TechCrunch or Mashable.

Don’t be these people. More importantly, let’s send a message that this is the wrong way to use the medium by not following them back – even if you’re planning on ignoring them. Accounts with 20,000 followers that look like the above examples only encourage others.

So there’s that. Are you working to turn followers into listeners?

Spread it around!

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