Are you one of those people who still thinks that social media marketing is all about having a Facebook page and updating it occasionally, having a Twitter page and tweeting each day, and having a blog which is maintained pretty regularly? In essence, is your social media marketing all about pushing your thoughts, comments, special offers, invitations and advice out through a number of social media channels? If so, just how social is that?

SocialiseImagine being in a bar with a few friends. Now imagine interrupting your friends’ conversation and telling them something completely unrelated. Then ignoring what they say and telling them something else. Then immediately getting up to go to the toilet. Then coming back and immediately telling them something else which may or may not have anything to do with what they’d just been saying while you were away. Then ignoring them again and telling them another thing you just thought of. Then leaving to go and get some nuts. The chances are that next time your friends met up at the bar, you wouldn’t be on the list.

In real life being social is as much about listening as it is about talking, but even talking should be as much about responding as it is about initiating new topics or thoughts. But how exactly do you do this through social media?

Let’s imagine you run a men’s clothing store. Let’s imagine that you have a sale on. You could post that information out through a number of channels, and you may well have some success. But how about using Twitter to search for people who may be looking to get a new outfit for a party, or who are planning a holiday, or who have just lost weight? Imagine sending them a tweet, suggesting that they take advantage of your sale. Each tweet could not only convert into a sale, but you might then gain a regular customer, and someone who is likely to go on to share their experience online, spreading the word – free marketing for you.

This is just one example of how listening is an essential part of using social media. Listening, responding, saying things which are relevant to what people are talking about and responding to other people’s responses is all good practice, and yet amazingly easy to overlook, ignore or forget.

Have you had success in this way? Let us know if you’ve managed to achieve success through responding to people through twitter or other social networking platforms by using the comments form below.