About the conversation?

Every day, every hour, every minute somebody is tweeting what social media is all about. It’s all about engagement. It’s all about conversation. You get out what you put in. I’ve seen it all and mostly agreed. I enjoy the conversational element from the banter to the thought provoking post that screams out for comment but the only ones talking seem to be a noisy few, and I’m one of them!

Here is a question for you though, if it’s all about the conversation, why is hardly anyone talking?

I make this statement based on two things. Quite often, when I look at the twitter streams of new follows the messages are mostly broadcast. The interaction, questions and conversation tends to come from the same 150 or so voices. (On the plus side I average 100 mentions or RT’s). I’m followed by close to 4500 people and follow 3,500. That’s a lot of people for very little conversation and engagement.

On Facebook I have about 1900 “friends”, but it is usually the same 50 or so that are posting, commenting or liking on more than a very occasional basis. On linked-in I have 1800 contacts and 700 members of my linked in group. I get no more than 3 messages a day from my connections, very occasional comments on my status and a handful of posts that aren’t jobs in the group.

My blog averages 700 visitors a post, but usually attracts no more than 10 comments. (Last post excepted.). Most established groups or communities have less than 2% of the members actually contributing.

 Wherever I look in my social media channels the numbers look the same. No more than 2% are actively involved in conversation or engagement. The majority are “lurking”, looking, reading and passing by.

Now either I’m doing it wrong or don’t really get it or are the sound bites on conversation and engagement just that?

The numbers say it is not about engagement or conversation, and if that is the case, how do you appeal to those lurking and looking without contributing? I guess if the content was wrong, they would just stop looking, so what is it all really about?

Be ambassadors of whatever path you choose,


11 comments on “About the conversation?

  1. Bill,
    this will be probably the shortest comment you will see me make..

    Plain and simple – Many in this industry don’t like when people disagree with them.. and it creates fear.

  2. Good post, Bill. It’s true. I always get a boost when I do participate in the conversation , but probably don’t do it enough. I notice that during the work day, most of the comments are made by us recruiter/hr/job folks because we’re the ones on-line. My friends, people I’ve known from school, jobs, etc., tend to be the early morning or late night commenters, if they do. Or when I see them in person, they might mention that they liked something I posted. Are we all getting a bit weary of it being so open? Are we afraid to say the wrong thing? Or is it that sometimes we just don’t feel like we have anything of importance to say? Guess I felt like I did today. ; )

    • Kari,
      I just think maybe the experts have got it wrong. For the vast majority, social media is not about conversation or engagement. It’s mostly about viewing the channel and dipping in for areas of interest on an occasional basis.
      I’m going to be thinking this through as part of my strategy.

  3. Bill, for me it’s about too much information to review and consume readily and regularly. I’m all about transparency and making connections and Tweeting and fraternizing on Facebook and linking up on LinkedIn, but social media are paths by which I then develop relationships off-social-media-line and off-line in person. Period. You can’t really have extensive long-term convos with social media in any medium — phone calls, video calls and face-to-face is where it’s supposed to go.

    • Kevin,
      I agree with you on this one. Social is the route to relationship. I use social on line to get social off line, although geography and time zones can get in the way.
      My point is that maybe all the “its about the conversation” talk is not quite right.

  4. Hi Bill!

    What you’ve mentioned is a fact I’ve been bemoaning for some time now. I am blessed with a large following, but I struggle with the fact that I can’t make the number of personal connections I once could.

    Building relationships via social media takes time and effort and I feel like I am neglecting many of the followers I do have.

    I think Kevin makes a good point too – there is an overwhelming amount of information to consume. The fact is we only have so much time and we have to prioritize how we use it.

    • Alicia,
      Time is a factor. There is a point where your channels move from conversational to broadcast. i find the best way i can engage with new people now is through events, hashtag communities and hashtag events like #jobhuntchat and #TNL.

  5. Bill, I believe its all down to the capacity of the individual to hold a conversation with more than 8 or 10 people. Even in a face to face situation, it is difficult for everyone in a group of that size to be part of a conversation. Imagine 20 people standing in a circle in a networking event, or at a pub. It would be impossible for everyone to have their say, and the usual suspects, by dint of being loudest, most interesting, or funny, end up taking charge.
    Its not a bad thing, and its only natural, but it does mean that a significant number don’t get heard, or don’t speak up.
    If you really want to engage more people, and get wider input, I’d suggest finding ways to use the technology to manage clusters of 8, and get the conversation to percolate through.

  6. Great point Bill and I’d like to add a few words if I may on what I’ve observed in my own use and that of others of Linked In, Facebook, Twitter etc:

    Many people are on social media sites, to do what everyone else is doing, rather than actively wanting to participate in a conversation. Instead, many seem to dip in and out and observe (and plagiarise in many cases) the stuff that is being talked about

    Many people don’t wish to be so open about their thoughts and feelings – particularly true of us reserved Brits – and view those who do communicate this way in some way negatively

    Some people don’t feel it inappropriate to be seen to be on social media sites at all hours of the day and have other things to do with their time than follow the various streams that are ongoing.

    Some people have no clue how to use Social Media and aren’t engaged enough with it to learn

    I don’t say these are my views, but I must say that I’ve taken a backwards step in my own use of Social Media, where sometimes the noise seems to be that little bit too loud…and the sun’s come out!

    Enjoy the conversation

  7. You should really look at this Bill it is old but sums it all up well


    The internet has always been like this from way back when it was mainly bulletin boards and forums. You should never presume that people will behave in the same way as each other and it is wrong to think that they should.

    There are lots of different ways to get value from the social web as its staggering growth proves. So why should you set rules for people to follow especially if those rules are that everyone should be a participator in exactly the same was as you?

    There is a rule of thumb that says you are likely to get one blog comment per 100 readers, it sounds like you already ahead of the average. No point worrying about lurkers, just get on with what you’re doing and your audience will all take value from it in their different but equally valid ways


Leave a Reply to Kari Quaas Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: