You aren’t part of that social media conversation if you’re not listening.

popcorn conversationRight towards the end of my short book, Popcorn Content, I talk about the importance of putting your finger on the pulse of any social media conversation.

Let me expand on that a little.

I think for most of us our default setting with social media is to jump in and take part in as many conversations as possible, across multiple sites, like Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

We just want to be out there, in front of as many people as we can.

But deep down, I think we all know there is a problem with that approach.

When we try to spread ourselves across multiple sites, and add something to each on a regular basis, we quite naturally take the path of least resistance. And that means we simply tweet the headline and link to one of our own posts or articles, or a headline and link to something else.

In other words, we just throw stuff into the conversation, and move on. We can share that link in about 10 seconds flat. And then we are off to do something else.

By the time we come back a few hours later, our tweet, update or post has disappeared beneath the fold, maybe just one or two people have responded to what you shared…and there is a ton of other stuff, shared by others, which you haven’t even read.

To put this into a real-life context, this is like being at a party where several different groups of people are having their own, quite different conversations. If you dive into one group and immediately tell them something you find really interesting, like a new book you just read…and then immediately turn your back and walk away…you’ll probably get some odd looks.

After all, chances are they weren’t talking about books at all. And they’ll all notice you didn’t bother the pause and listen to what they were really talking about before you opened your mouth, and then walked away.

What they will really notice is that you actually have no real interest in their conversation.

The same thing happens when we use some cool tool to auto-tweet something, and share something on Facebook before taking a few moments to see what other people are talking about and excited about.

The key, whether you are hosting a party, or participating in social media, is to listen carefully and keep your finger on the pulse of the conversation. And don’t worry, you’ll still have a chance to talk about that book. But not before there is a lull in the conversation, and not before you have contributed to what other people are already talking about.

If you are active across multiple social media sites, you’ll probably find it hard to get this right. You’ll always be in a hurry, and you’ll never have the time to be a good host, or a good participant.

My advice is to pick just one or two social media sites, and spend more time on those. Forget the others. Unless you spend half the day on social media, you won’t have the time to listen and contribute. You’ll only have the time to throw in some quick tweets, updates and posts…and then wonder why other people don’t pay you much attention.

And that’s what we want, for one reason other another…attention.

NOTE: If you don’t yet have a copy of my Kindle Single, Popcorn Content, you can get it at Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

About the author: Nick Usborne is an online writer, copywriter, author and coach.

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