How to suck at social media

I have a confession to make: I suck at social media. Yes, your humble servant (maybe that is one reason why) who advises thousands of IT workers how to implement the fanciest technologies can’t do squat when it comes to FaceTwitLinkbooking. Or whatever.

Yes, I have a blog, and a Twitter account, and do all sorts of stuff on LinkedIn and Facebook. And I have even learned how to tie them together, so one blog post proliferates the Twitterverse et naseum. But I fail when it comes to something that is so basic, so un-tech, so easy, that is almost embarrassing.

I am not a good listener.

I realized this the other day when I was interviewing one of Dell’s big honchos in social media, who was talking about how he (and by extension, the greater Dell) has become better at listening. To social media. And interacting with its customers.

By and large, I don’t interact with my readers. Yes, I get some emails, Tweets, comments on my blogs and Facebook and other messages. Sometimes I respond, if they ask me a direct question that has a reasonable answer. (Unreasonable question: I am doing a report for my class on firewalls, can you tell me how to evaluate their features? Yup, I sure can: go find some other sap.)

But most of the time, I don’t really listen. Sure, I do a lot of listening when I am on the phone with a source, typing madly as I try to record for posterity their words of wisdom for all ITkind. But that is a very selective form of listening, reserved for when I am doing the research phase of whatever it is that I am assigned to write that particular day or week.

I even subscribe to a few different email listservs, that traditional form of group grope before we got that kid from Harvard unbelievably rich (and on stock options that he can’t even sell for real hard cash money either). But do I post and engage the audiences there? Nope: most of the time, I just lurk and read whatever is going down on the ‘boards (dating myself here, I know).

Sure, I tune in to the Twitstream and check my Facebook wall to see what is happening. And sometimes I even scroll down a few screens to see what my peeps are up to. But that isn’t what this social media thing is all about.

At a lecture today by another professional speaker, he spoke about how he uses Facebook for positioning – meaning he lets his followers/friends know what he is working on. I usually don’t do that – if you look at my posts, they are links to when the articles and other good stuff that I have produced is actually in a finished state. By then, the listening room has moved on to something else.

So my moral for today is this: spend some time listening to your clients, customers, partners, colleagues.

Okay, time to practice (a little) of what I am preaching. What do you want me to write about next week? I am all ears.

4 thoughts on “How to suck at social media

  1. Hi David: Very much enjoy your columns. I would like to see you address the NEW hot issue of Crosschannel or multichannel marketing. IE tie in between Brick & Mortar, E-Commerce, Mobile Commerce, etc.
    Best Regard.

  2. Pingback: The Week in Small Business – 02.12.11 | Intuit Small Business Blog

  3. I don’t think you suck at social media. Not at all.

    You’re busy and you’re spread thin across a lot of communities right now. You also have to make a living, which is a tad more difficult these days than it was in 2008. You can’t engage in deep conversation with every person who might want to talk to you. You have to pick your spots.

    Most businesses still look at their blogs, Facebook pages and Twitter streams as channels for their marketing messages. The fact that you even know that you can do better puts you ahead of the pack.

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