Twitter has often been called a conversation, but how often do you listen compared to how often you talk? Too many businesses think that using Twitter and other social media sites is all about publishing regularly updated comments relating to the business, about what they’re developing, what is just about to be introduced, what they would like people to purchase, reasons why people might want to purchase from them, and other business oriented statements.

If you were in a bar chatting with someone who only ever talked about themselves, and seemed utterly obsessed with their own little world, you would probably very rapidly try to find the exit, and head straight for it. Such people are hardly likely to be considered socially skilled in the real world, so why does it seem to be so much more acceptable in the online world?

The answer is, it isn’t. Businesses using Twitter need to make sure they’re listening at least as much as they are talking, and perhaps in some cases, even more. How often when you visit Twitter do you carry out a search for keywords relating to your business or industry?

Listening using Twitter is not just about reading a few of the updates posted by those people you may be following, but about actively listening as well, which involves you actively searching for industry or business relevant keywords.

This may give you the opportunity of picking up new leads, responding to potentially harmful comments relating to your particular business or brand, or simply taking advantage of emerging thoughts, feelings and attitudes.

I remember at school being told that we had two ears and only one mouth so that we could listen twice as much as we spoke. Online we only have one monitor to listen through, but around eighty keys on a keyboard to talk. But try to get over this imbalance by doing more than just passively listening – try actively listening by searching for what other people may be saying.

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