The explosion of Social media in our culture has accelerated the number of conversations to an unprecedented level. Many would agree that there is so much conversation going on that it is impossible to keep up. The benefits of participating in these conversations should no longer be in doubt, except by those few that refuse to adapt to change.
A productive conversation has two required components: speaking and listening. Much of the conversation in the early stage of social media is speaking. If you were/are one of the early users of Twitter, you will most likely agree. Lot’s of ‘speaking’ going on – words being pushed out into the Twittersphere. As we learn how to use this medium more effectively, it has become apparent that the more strategic use of these tools is as a listener. Please note that I am an advocate of doing both, as often as time allows.
The term “lurking” is used to describe the online activity in which someone hangs out in the background, never speaking and never visible. You will gain very little by using social media tools this way. If you have read earlier posts of mine you know I believe the most important activity in social media is listening. However, if you are only listening, you are being cheated of the opportunity to expand your knowledge, connections and your business.
There are numerous reasons to “leave footprints” as you travel the web:
1) You are building name recognition with the people that you respect enough to read their information or follow in social media.
2) You are building your expertise on the subject matter that you are commenting on. Obviously this assumes that you have left a well thought out comment on the topic of the post, Tweet, video or photo.
3) You will gain additional connections or followers that are noticing your footprints.
4) You are developing and exercising your online “voice”, gaining experience in putting your thoughts and ideas into words.
I recommend “leaving a footprint” as frequently as you can. Leaving a footprint simply means to let others know you stopped by. A reply to a tweet, a comment on a Facebook wall and/or a comment on a blog post. As a blogger I can tell you that those readers that leave a comment after their visit are much appreciated and valued. If you want to achieve an active, productive social media experience, leave a footprint of your travels. You will stand out in the crowd, others will begin to recognize your involvement, follow you and your thoughts and expand your network of connections. If you want to stand out, to gain the attention of those that you follow, and potentially of those that you seek a conversation with, leave your footprint. Try it, you will surprised with the results.
What do you do to leave your footprints? Will you share an interesting story about what has happened to you after someone followed your footprints? Have you had success by doing this already? Might I suggest that you start now by leaving your footprint on this article in the comment area below.
How can I not leave a comment after reading this? Probably one of my favorite “footprint” stories for myself is as follows:
A client of mine asked me to do some research on a topic that I was not familiar with so I set off with the almighty Google and my search inquiries. In the process of the project I found a website (Dave Doolin with Website in a Weekend; @websiteweekend on Twitter) that was one of those “gems”.
I spent a number of hours then reading through the many posts he has about WordPress – some technical beyond my comprehension. I commented on a number of them, asked questions on a few, etc. He, of course, visited my website and left comments on some of my posts.
Where this really turned into an opportunity though is that now I post as a “staff author” on his blog once a month and we email back and forth on other things. We chit chat on Twitter from time to time and I’ve actively promoted his e-book on Blog Post Engineering because it’s something I’ve purchased myself and believe the content will help anyone who wants to have a structured format for maximizing their blog posts for both humans and the search engines.
I never leave comments on blogs with the thought of them becoming some type of opportunity – the fact that I was presented with one from Dave – a true surprise and an honor. Rather when I do comment I do it to either a) show support for a friend to let them know I was there b) to offer ideas/resources that the author may not be aware of.
All that being said — I find that I do more lurking than I do commenting mainly because commenting and really contributing takes time.
On a side note – I do enjoy seeing Disqus display the number of comments I’ve left on Disqus enabled commenting systems….primarily because I am a number freak and I enjoy seeing my contributions on the world wide web growing….or as your would say it….the number of footprints I am leaving behind.